[INDOLOGY] Sandhi and grammar

Hock, Hans Henrich hhhock at illinois.edu
Sat Feb 24 17:11:54 UTC 2024

Michael Witzel’s suggestion that a laryngeal may be responsible for the lack of sandhi in the dual endings -ī and -ū may be on the right track; but note that the nominative singular endings -ī and -ū likewise contained a final laryngeal but do undergo sandhi.  Moreover, early Vedic is less consistent as regards sandhi (especially the form of early Vedic inferrable from poetic structure). So there must have been some kind of grammatical standardization (or grammaticalization). The criteria motivating this development are not clear to me. Perhaps somebody has a suggestion or a reference to one?

All the best


On Feb 23, 2024, at 22:13, Harry Spier via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

Hi Rajam,
I meant "grammar" in a very loose and general way.  I.e. things about the language other than the sounds of the language.  So for example  I wondered why  in sanskrit should  ī ,ū or e when dual terminations (and only when dual terminations) remain unchanged before vowels.. In other words why should whether a termination is "dual" or not effect its being changed by following sounds.  Or why should internal sandhi be any different from external sandhi.

I received this response from Michael Witzel and I don't think he would mind if I share it.
one  has to look at Sandhi as the product of various historical sound changes, some Indo-Iranian (RUKI rule), some pre-Indo-Aryan, some Vedic…

Thus: ī ,ū or e when dual terminations  remain unchanged before vowels.

This is historical:  ī, ū are  from < i+H (laryngeal), u + H  > with regular change to ī,ū.  The laryngeal disappeared with regular  lengthening of the vowel, but speakers “remembered” the gap it left.

Like French Le Havre, not l’Avre. (from Germanic H-)

Harry Spier

On Fri, Feb 23, 2024 at 10:57 PM rajam <rajam at earthlink.net<mailto:rajam at earthlink.net>> wrote:
Kindly pardon my ignorance. Please let us know how you define “grammar.”

Thanks and regards,

On Feb 22, 2024, at 7:02 AM, Harry Spier via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>> wrote:

Dear list members,
I've wondered for a long time why sanskrit sandhi has any dependence on grammar and is not solely determined by preceding or following letters/sounds.

For example why should internal sandhi have any differences from external sandhi. As MacDonell says, "The most notable divergence from external sandhi is the unchangeableness of the final consonans of verbal and nominal stems before terminations beginning with vowels, semivowels and nasal

Or why should  ī ,ū or e when dual terminations (and only when dual terminations) remain unchanged before vowels.

In other words, in these cases why should grammar and not just adjacent sounds determine whether sandhi occurs.
Harry Spier

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