[INDOLOGY] sanskrit and computers?

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Mon Apr 13 22:31:46 UTC 2020

Backus-Naur notation is often cited as a re-discovery of Pāṇini's
notational methods, not entirely without justification. This 1967 letter in
CACM by Ingerman started this particular hare:
https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/363162.363165.  Ingerman's assertion rests
on a simplified view of how Pāṇini's grammar works, ignoring many features
such as rule-ordering, blocking, and scoping.  Nevertheless, the general
idea of BNF-style rewriting rules is there.


Professor Dominik Wujastyk

Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity

Department of History and Classics <http://historyandclassics.ualberta.ca/>
University of Alberta, Canada

South Asia at the U of A:


On Sun, 12 Apr 2020 at 03:27, 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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> *bodhapūrvam calema* ;-)
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