[INDOLOGY] Question on Diacritical Marks

victor davella vbd203 at googlemail.com
Tue Sep 6 07:24:01 UTC 2016

I mistakenly did not send this to the whole list last night, although it
seems it is  mostly paunarutka at this point.  I would, however, repeat
that there are simply many places where the lack of diacritics obscures the
meaning entirely. For example, *it and iṭ *in Sanskrit grammatical

Regarding the use of the original script, if I were to have my druthers,
all longer quotations would be in the original script. Anyone who can read
the language can read the script, and many of the people who can read it
best, cannot read transliteration or only with difficulty. It's also worth
noting that despite the typographic difficulties, many earlier publications
were printed with Devanāgarī instead of transliteration. Kielhorn, for
example, published many studies (Kâtyâyana and Patanjali (sic!), his
translation of the Paribhāṣenduśekhara, etc.) with minimal transliteration,
mostly for proper names.  The two scripts blend rather elegantly even in
the same line.

[image: Inline image 2]

All the Best,

On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 8:39 PM, victor davella <vbd203 at googlemail.com>

> Dear All,
> I never understood the rational behind dropping diacritics, especially for
> Indian languages. For Classical Sanskrit there are but three diacritical
> marks: (the macron (ā), the under dot (ṣ), and the acute accent (ś)), none
> of which obscures the original shape of a roman letter and all of which are
> used consistently to indicate a specific point of articulation or the
> length of a vowel. The only oddity is vocalic r.  The macron may very well
> be known to many readers already. Other notes on pronunciation are of
> course necessary, lest the reader pronounce candra as kandra, but a simple
> list or table takes care of this within a page.
> Usually the author who decides to dispense with them adds a note intended
> to placate those who would wish to have them, and asks for dispensation
> because a more general or non-specialist public will find diacritics
> overwhelming, confusing, distracting or the like. Is this true? If one
> wishes to read a book about Indian philosophy, literature etc., why is it
> assumed  that the reader would NOT want to have information about the
> language's pronunciation and that the reader would be so put off by
> presence of diacritics. If some readers do in fact think in this manner,
> why should they be the ones to determine which information is suppressed?
> In any case, I don't believe that there is actually any harm in having
> them, only benefit.
> I am pro-diacritics and have yet to see a convincing reason for leaving
> them out in the transliteration of Sanskrit terms in the realm of scholarly
> publications.
> All the Best,
> Victor
> On Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 6:13 PM, Jeffery Long via INDOLOGY <
> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>> _______________________________________________
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>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> From: Jeffery Long <dharmaprof108 at yahoo.com>
>> To: Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
>> Cc:
>> Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2016 16:12:54 +0000 (UTC)
>> Subject: Question on Diacritical Marks
>> Dear Colleagues,
>> I have a somewhat delicate question on which I would appreciate your
>> candid opinions.
>> Imagine a doctoral dissertation in the field of philosophy.  The
>> primary audience for this dissertation is other philosophers, most of whom
>> are likely to have little or no expertise in the field of Indology.  The
>> dissertation does, however, engage quite extensively with Indic
>> philosophical traditions and texts, and does so in a serious and
>> responsible fashion.  Because the author him or herself is also, however,
>> primarily a philosopher and not an Indologist, s/he does not deploy
>> diacritical marks in presenting Sanskrit terms.
>> How would such a dissertation be regarded by most of you?  Would the
>> non-use of diacritical marks alone disqualify this work from being taken
>> seriously?  (My own reaction: I would personally find it distracting and
>> irritating, but not disqualifying if the scholarship were otherwise sound.)
>>  Your thoughts?
>> With thanks in advance,
>> Jeff
>> Dr. Jeffery D. Long
>> Professor of Religion and Asian Studies
>> Elizabethtown College
>> Elizabethtown, PA
>> https://etown.academia.edu/JefferyLong
>> Series Editor, *Explorations in Indic Traditions: Theological, Ethical,
>> and Philosophical*
>> Lexington Books
>> Consulting Editor, Sutra Journal
>> http://www.sutrajournal.com
>> "One who makes a habit of prayer and meditation will easily overcome all
>> difficulties and remain calm and unruffled in the midst of the trials of
>> life."  (Holy Mother Sarada Devi)

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