[INDOLOGY] training in Sanskrit composition

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at umich.edu
Tue Sep 1 09:02:45 EDT 2015


Dear Dipak,

     Speaking about the situation of "second" languages in the University
of Michigan, we have a general rule for all undergraduate students that
they all must learn at least one non-English language for four semesters (2
years).  The university teaches 67 languages, including modern and
classical languages, and any one of these can satisfy the under-graduate
language requirement.  The most popular "second" language is Spanish, with
something like 3000 students for first and second year Spanish.  I could be
wrong about the specific number, but it is very high.  Within my Department
of Asian Languages and Cultures, Chinese and Japanese have enrollments
above 500 students.  Hindi attracts somewhere near 100 students, while the
enrollment for First Year Sanskrit in the upcoming Fall semester is 12.
     This refers to the general requirements for all undergraduates.  Of
course there are specialized departments for modern and classical languages
etc. and there are students, graduate and undergraduate, who are studying
those languages and cultures as their primary focus.  The numbers of
students specializing in various languages differ widely.

Madhav Deshpande

On Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 8:01 AM, Dipak Bhattacharya <dipak.d2004 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> This makes quite a different situation from that in India. "Composition"
> meaning translation *into* Sanskrit *from* a diffrent language is in the
> Indian curricula from the secondary stage. I thank Professor Gombrich for
> the clarification.
>
> I point to a relevant topic. The position of Sanskrit in the Indian
> schools has now been touched upon in the List. This calls attention to the
> European Classical languages in the Western schools. Can it be expected
> that someone threw light on the position of the Classical languages in the
> European and American schools. As I knew indirectly French/English was the
> general preference as the second languaghe and Classical as the third. Is
> it still the preferred combination?
>
> On Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 4:52 PM, richard gombrich <richardgombrich at mac.com>
> wrote:
>
>> I am afraid that what recent contributors have written about "Sanskrit
>> composition" in the Oxford final exams is a bit misleading. In this
>> context, "composition" meant translation from a set passage of English,
>> usually from a literary work by a well known author. This precisely
>> followed how Latin and Greek were taught in schools when I was young -- and
>> for centuries before that. No originality was involved.
>> Richard Gombrich
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-- 
Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA
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