[INDOLOGY] FYI: Spoken Sanskrit blog entry plus discussion at "Language Log"

Jean-Luc Chevillard jean-luc.chevillard at univ-paris-diderot.fr
Mon Jan 11 11:21:20 UTC 2016

Dear Patrick,

thanks a lot for this very interesting account.

It helps building a precise mental linguistic global landscape,
concerning which the EARLIER blog by Victor Mair
/Sanskrit resurgent/, dated August 2014)
also provided one with a wealth of information,
further enriched by a multiplicity of insights
concerning "Literary Sinitic (Classical Chinese)".

As far as I am concerned,
it also helps me in clarifying my ideas
concerning what I nowadays tend to call the "Tamil TRIGLOSSIA"
(i.e. the Tamil diglossia, haunted by Classical Tamil)

My mother tongue being French,
you might of course need to normalize
(into śāstric English ...)
some of the tentative statements made by me ;-)

I believe I know what I am try to say, although my success is dependent 
on my grasp of the linguistic vehicle of the current Zeitgeist :-)

I tend to think that we live in interesting times,
being able to combine real travel opportunities (for instance to 
Shillong and other places) and virtual travel opportunities (for 
instance thanks to YouTube ...).

Best wishes for 2016

-- Jean-Luc (in Paris)




On 11/01/2016 11:47, patrick mccartney wrote:
> Dear Jean-Luc,
> After several years of wondering I finally found my way to the village
> of Jhiri, Madhya Pradesh. Jhiri is one of the better known 'Sanskrit
> villages'. It was during the deadly heatwave last April/May that I found
> myself in the village with no running water or electricity sleeping on
> the oven-like roof and bathing amongst the buffaloes. In this village I
> recorded some footage and made a short film about non-śāstric spoken
> Sanskrit and code-switching. Here
> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy6lVABgjmg> is the link. I intend to
> make more films about Jhiri. Stay tuned.
> I was inspired by this rather ambiguous media report that says
> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHLIy-WHDew> ‘almost all the people
> always converse in Sanskrit’. However, I can tell you that out of ~600
> villagers I found only about 15-20 people who could hold a conversation
> in Sanskrit in various domains. Many more were able to recite a
> memorised Sanskrit sentence / salutation but were unable to hold a
> conversation without prompting and/or translation. Regardless, this
> community of predominantly Sondhiya Rajputs has intentions of
> transitioning to Sanskrit. However, there are very interesting reasons
> as to why this project is essentially failing/has failed.
> The current superordinate language is Umawadi Malvi. Hindi is also
> spoken. There are no first language speakers of Sanskrit in this
> village. We can consider that Sanskrit in Jhiri is in a moribund state
> as there has been no teaching of Sanskrit by the Samskrita Bharati
> teachers who were sent to the village 10 years ago from the Bhopal
> office but they have not taught in the past 5 years, even though they
> continue to live in the village.
> The future of this language nest is in doubt. The community's elders are
> slightly bemused at why the media has misrepresented them as a
> homogenous group of fluent speakers. They are the first to admit this is
> not /yet/ the case. Still there was one particular individual who
> emphatically repeated on several occasions that '/asmākaṃ grāme sarve
> janāḥ saṃskṛtaṃ vadanti/'. This attitude in itself is fascinating.
> Of the many things that fascinate me about spoken Sanskrit, one thing I
> am interested in concerns how Sanskrit is spoken from the perspective of
> 2nd language acquisition. I am especially interested in how it mixes
> with the substrate (1st/2nd) languages to create what we can consider a
> creoloid (like Hinglish or Singlish). From a sociological perspective
> the linguistic and cultural hegemony of Sanskrit fascinates me. The
> purifying puristic prism within which Sanskrit is imprisoned affects the
> attitudes of aspirational Sanskrit speakers. It is also the reason for
> its aesthetic charm. The people in Jhiri regularly told me '/asmākaṃ
> saṃskṛtam atiśuddhaṃ bhaviṣyati'/. The main reason given for this
> attitude was that without speaking Sanskrit in a 'pure' form the
> metaphysical benefits and accumulation of /puṇya/ would remain
> unobtainable. They also felt that to be a good /deśabhaktaḥ/ one ought
> to speak the /devabhāṣā, /which incidentally Samskrita Bharati package
> as the /janabhāṣā, /while asserting its final incarnation will be the
> next global lingua-franca or /viśvabhāṣā/.
> It is worthwhile mentioning that sociolinguists don't really think in
> terms of 'grammatical errors' or 'purity' but instead see instances of
> imperfect learning as signposts to understand the acquisition process
> itself. However,I can understand and appreciate the position of
> individuals more focused on their soteriological and patriotic aims.
> While the 'pure' yet simplified register (dialect?) of Sanskrit promoted
> by Samskrita Bharati is embedded in a quest for national unity and
> pride, moral rectitude and a cultural renaissance with global
> aspirations for India to become the /viśvaguru/; how, why and where
> Sanskrit is spoken ought to be given more attention. Which is my intention.
> ###Shameless self promotion###
> Having completed my PhD I'm now in the process of trying to find a
> post-doctoral position and funding so I can return to India and conduct
> extended multi-sited comparative ethnographic field work on non-shastric
> communities of Sanskrit speakers across North India. I have a list of 16
> potential field sites. Please contact me off list if you have any
> interest in helping me with this fundamental part of the project. Here
> <https://www.academia.edu/19566419/Post-doc_Research_Proposal> is a link
> to a draft research proposal. I would be grateful for any constructive
> feedback on how to make this project better.
> Thank you ☺
> All the best,
> Patrick McCartney
> PhD Candidate
> School of Culture, History & Language
> College of the Asia-Pacific
> The Australian National University
> Canberra, Australia, 0200
> Skype - psdmccartney
> Phone + Whatsapp: +61 414 954 748 <tel:%2B61%20414%20954%20748>
>   * _https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241756978&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_
>   * _https://anu-au.academia.edu/patrickmccartney_
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy6lVABgjmg
> <http://goog_371544488>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVqBD_2P4Pg
> http://youtu.be/y3XfjbwqC_g
> http://trinityroots.bandcamp.com/track/all-we-be
> On Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 10:06 PM, Jean-Luc Chevillard
> <jean-luc.chevillard at univ-paris-diderot.fr
> <mailto:jean-luc.chevillard at univ-paris-diderot.fr>> wrote:
>     Inside that blog entry, see one statement made by David Shulman:
>     // Spoken Sanskrit uses the classical morphology (the verbal system
>     perhaps somewhat reduced in its range), but its syntax often follows
>     whatever spoken mother tongue the speaker uses. In this, however, it
>     is continuous with medieval written Sanskrit which, despite what one
>     reads in various primers and other works, is actually a
>     left-branching language (like all other South Asian languages in the
>     Dravidian and Indo-Iranian families), unlike Vedic, which is
>     right-branching (like Greek, Latin, English, German, etc.).  Also,
>     medieval Sanskrit has the same profusion of modal and aspectual
>     forms that we find in other South Asian languages, although these
>     forms have largely gone unnoticed by scholars trained in the old
>     Indo-European paradigms. //
>     ((David Shulman, inside "http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=23412")
>     That statement reminded me of earlier remarks, on INDOLOGY,
>     concerning the features labeled "left-branching" and
>     "right-branching", discussed in August 2015 on this list.
>     See for instance Hans Henrich Hock's message, dated 18th August
>     which started with:
>     "Let me add a few more cents’ worth.
>     The idea that Indo-Aryan, including Sanskrit, fundamentally differs
>     from Dravidian in its syntactic typology, though sanctioned by a
>     certain “tradition” in South Asian linguistics, is problematic on
>     several counts. [...]"
>     (("http://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology_list.indology.info/2015-August/041998.html"))
>     I, for one, would welcome seeing more pointers towards published
>     literature
>     -- Jean-Luc Chevillard (in Paris)
>     "https://univ-paris-diderot.academia.edu/JeanLucChevillard"
>     "https://plus.google.com/u/0/113653379205101980081/posts/p/pub"
>     "https://twitter.com/JLC1956"
>     On 10/01/2016 11:59, Birgit Kellner wrote:
>         FYI: Victor Mair posted an interesting entry on Spoken Sanskrit
>         on the
>         weblog "Language Log" (that some of you might already follow):
>         http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=23412
>         It's related to a recent workshop in Jerusalem ("A Lasting Vision:
>         Dandin’s Mirror in the World of Asian Letters"), and also includes
>         reports and reflections by some of the workshop participants.
>         With best regards,
>         Birgit Kellner
>         -------
>         Prof. Dr. Birgit Kellner
>         Director
>         Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia
>         Austrian Academy of Sciences
>         Apostelgasse 23
>         A-1030 Vienna / Austria
>         Phone: (+43-1) 51581 / 6420 <tel:%28%2B43-1%29%2051581%20%2F%206420>
>         Fax: (+43-1) 51581 / 6410 <tel:%28%2B43-1%29%2051581%20%2F%206410>
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