[INDOLOGY] Monier-Williams and Spoken Sanskrit

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at umich.edu
Mon Jun 15 12:42:32 UTC 2020

Dear McComas,

     What a beautiful quote.  Somewhat similar to my first encounter with
American English.  After studying in English for years in Pune, I traveled
to New York on a ship in August 1968, and when my ship docked in the
harbor, the dock workers helped me get my ocean trunks down to the shore.
To my absolute shock, I could not understand a word of what they said to me
and they could not quite follow my Puneri English.  My pride in being able
to communicate in English in Pune was completely shattered, and only the
intervention by a Marathi acquaintance who had come to receive me saved the
day.  Best wishes,


Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies

[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]

On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 11:56 PM McComas Taylor via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> One of my students, Alex Watt, found this interesting passage in MMW's
> 'Modern India and the Indians' (1878), p.38
> "... a deputation of Brāhmans is seen approaching. They have come to greet
> me on my arrival; some of them are Pandits. A mat is spread for them in a
> vacant tent. They enter without shoes, make respectful salaams and squat
> around me in a semi-circle. I thoughtlessly shake hands with the chief
> Pandit, a dignified venerable old gentleman, forgetful that the touch of a
> Mleccha (English barbarian) will entail upon him laborious purificatory
> ceremonies on his return to his own house. We then exchange compliments in
> Sanskṛit and I ask them many questions, and propound difficulties for
> discussion. Their fluency in talking Sanskṛit surprises me, and certainly
> surpasses mine. We English scholars treat Sanskṛit as a dead language, but
> here in India I am expected to speak it as if it were my mother-tongue.
> Once or twice I find myself floundering disastrously, but the polite
> Pandits help me out of my difficulties..."
> The original is online here:
> https://books.google.com.au/books?id=se49AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
> *McComas Taylor*
> Associate Professor
> Reader in Sanskrit
> College of Asia and the Pacific
> The Australian National University
> WSC Website <http://www.wsc2021.com.au>| McC Website
> <https://sites.google.com/site/mccomasanu/>
> Tel: +61 2 6125 3179
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