the sanskrit tradition n.
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  1. The Sanskrit tradition Pānini – the first “modern” grammarian

  2. Pānini, inspired by Shiva • Born in the north-west, in a town near the Indus river, in what is now Pakistan • It is unclear when he lived, perhaps around 500 or 400 BC • Not the founder of grammar in India (P. mentions names of other grammarians) • Main work: Aşţādhyāyī, a grammar consisting of almost 4000 sutras

  3. Panini:Sutra in the Hindu Scriptures • A Sutra or an aphorism is a short formula with the least possible number of letters, without any ambiguity or doubtful assertion, containing the very essence, embracing all meanings, without any stop or obstruction and absolutely faultless in nature. (Excerpt from All About Hinduism by Sri Swami Sivananda)

  4. Pānini grammar is devoted to Sanskrit, the ‘purified language’ of religion, philosophy and learning, as it was in use around 500 BC. • Sanskrit is a variety of the Indo-Aryan language spoken in the north of the Indian subcontinent from 1500 BC onward. The oldest forms of this language are known as Vedic Sanskrit, the language of the Rigveda, and the other Veda’s.

  5. Even in Pānini’s time, Sanskrit was not the language of everyday life, but Pākrit and Pāli. • Pākrit is the language of the oldest inscriptions, Pāli the language of many Buddhist texts • Sanskrit was closely associated with Brahmin priests and the Hindu religion

  6. Types of rules in Panini • definitions • metarules • headings • operational rules

  7. Format operational rules • context-sensitive rule A → B / C __ D (replace A by B when preceded by C and followed by D) Panini version: A: genitive, B nominative, C ablative and D locative.

  8. Other types of rule • AB → C (coalescence rule) • A → AA (reduplication)

  9. Affixation • is done by context sensitive rules of the first kind, but because nothing is replaced, there is no genitive • modern version could be: ø → aff / C __ D (note that P. already used zero elements, e.g. by defining deletion as replacement by zero) • distinction made between roots, stems and words for affixation

  10. Compounding • A: nominative, B: locative • A is compounded with B

  11. Terms • distinction between object language and metalanguage (ordinary terms vs technical terms)

  12. Metarules • Rule ordering: feeding principle (tacitly assumed by P. ): assume that rules are ordered in a feeding relation • ‘Elsewhere’ principle (special rules supersede general rules)

  13. Feeding and Counterfeeding (1) A →B (2) B →C Input: {A, A, A, B, B, C} Output: {C,C,C,C,C,C} when (1) and (2) are in feeding order (1 < 2) Output: {B,B,B,C,C,C} when (1) and (2) are in counterfeeding order

  14. Bleeding and Counterbleeding • 1. A → B • 2. A → C Rule 1 bleeds rule 2 iff rule 1 removes some of the environments where rule 2 may apply

  15. Thematic Roles • Kārakas expressed generalizations about thematic roles such as Agent, Goal, Recipient, Location, etc. • E.g. Agent is expressed either by active endings on the verb or by instrumental case on the noun. Only one mode of expression is allowed, so if the verb is active, use the endings, if the verb is passive, use instrumental case.

  16. Modern terms from Sanskrit grammarians • sandhi (stuff happening at the edges, English: an apple / a pear, the answer/the question) • dvandva (coordinative compound: poet-painter) • bahuvrihi (possessive compound: longlegged, narrow-minded) • svarabhakti (epenthesis)

  17. Background reading • George Cardona, Panini – His work and its traditions, 2nd ed., Delhi, 1997 • J.F. Staal, Reader on the Sanskrit Grammarians. South Asia Books, 1986