[INDOLOGY] A question on critical edition

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan palaniappa at aol.com
Fri Sep 17 13:34:51 UTC 2021

Dear Indologists,


I have a theoretical question related to creating a critical edition. An editor of an ancient text in an Indian language dated about two millennia ago published an edition of the text in the 1920s. The text described a particular geographic area and calls it by a generic name (G1) which really contradicts the description that goes with it. But, G1 was found in all the manuscripts available. None of the manuscripts was more than 300 years old. Then he published another edition of the same text in the 1930s in which G1 is emended to G2. We do not have a clear idea as to why he did it. By this change, the internal contradiction between the description of the geographic area and G1 is eliminated. G2 also is a synonym of a specific geographic area mentioned in the text elsewhere. Finally, using a sandhi rule, one can get G2 from G1. It is as if the editor has assumed that all the manuscripts contained an error, which occurred as a result of someone sometime in the transmission line, misunderstanding the sandhi in G2, ended up with G1. In other words, he seems to have reconstructed G2. After the 1930s edition, many other scholars accepted G2 as the correct reading. This editor passed away in the 1940s. In the 1970s, a 6th century inscription was discovered which mentioned G2 for the first time. 


Should G1 or G2 be selected to be the ‘correct’ reading in a critical edition? Have you used such emendations in critical editions yourself or have you come across such emendations in other critical editions of texts?


Thank you for your comments in advance.




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