[INDOLOGY] sanskrit and computers?

Antonia Ruppel rhododaktylos at gmail.com
Sun Apr 12 13:43:37 UTC 2020

Dear Patrick,

This is something I have been engaging with on and off, partly to see
whether one can actually do anything with the idea, but mostly to use it as
a hook with which to get people to think about their conceptions of what
language is and what it can be used for.

I am not aware of anything cogent by any stretch of the imagination, but
I've attached an article about Sanskrit use for NLP that I've sometimes
seen referred to as 'proof' that this is a respectable/serious subject for
academic study. (It is IEEE, but from the proceedings of a conference
rather than one of their own (prestigious) publications.)

You already mention Briggs' article; I am curious to hear what else people
may be able to contribute. This is mentioned so often that there *have* to
be some efforts to make more of the idea.

All the very best,

On Sun, 12 Apr 2020 at 11:27, patrick mccartney via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear Friends, I'm wondering if I might be directed towards any objective
> discussion specifically related to Sanskrit and computers.To give some more
> context, this is an evolving component of my Imagining Sanskritland
> project. It links in with assertions like Sanskrit is the "language of the
> rural masses." The idea that Sanskrit is the best language for computing
> holds particular currency. I'm keen to look into it more. I'm guessing most
> are likely aware of the factoids circulating, which are ultimately based on
> the infamously disembedded NASA article by Rick Brigg's from 1985. It is
> consistently recycled as a means to justify several cultural nationalist
> assertions, one being that Sanskrit is the most "computerable" language. To
> illustrate, here is a very recent assertion,
> The language deserves to be treated much better than it has been so far,
> more so when it has been called the best ‘computerable’ language.
> Sanskrit’s credentials to be a language of future India are definitely
> better and greater than we have realised so far. Its revival will not
> only renew and revive the pride in our own cultural heritage, but will also
> bring about spiritualism and the concept of a meaningful society and
> polity, thereby bringing order and peace all across the country, a
> desideratum for any developed society.
> Since I'm not in any way a computer scientist, I'm curious to learn from
> members of the list. I have found many articles from obscure online
> journals and countless blogs that repeat the same things, quite often copy
> and pasted...just like the "Sanskrit-speaking" village rumors.
> I'm not, necessarily, curious about the intricacies of using technology to
> understand Sanskrit's grammar or digitize the humanities, but, rather, the
> aspiration to apply it to other machine learning/AI projects that compete
> with other conlangs specific to the task of coding. However, what I'm
> ultimately looking for is cogent discussion of the sociological side of
> this phenomenon, if it exists.
> Any advice is appreciated. :-)
> All the best,
> パトリック マッカートニー
> Patrick McCartney, PhD
> Research Affiliate - Organization for Identity and Cultural Development
> (OICD), Kyoto
> Research Associate - Nanzan University Anthropological Institute, Nagoya,
> Japan
> Visiting Fellow - South and South-east Asian Studies Department, Australian
> National University
> Member - South Asia Research Institute (SARI), Australian National
> University
> Skype / Zoom - psdmccartney
> Phone + Whatsapp + Line:  +61410644259
> Twitter - @psdmccartney @yogascapesinjap
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> <https://patrickmccartney.academia.edu/> Linkedin
> <https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241756978&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile>
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> *bodhapūrvam calema* ;-)
>    -
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Dr Antonia Ruppel

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