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#1 2013-03-14 20:25:14

Registered: 2013-03-14
Posts: 1

Toward a Modern Sanskrit

Hello All,

I am interested in formulating a modern Sanskrit language, roughly paralleling what the Israelis have done with Hebrew. Please note that this is not an effort to supplant Vedic or classical Sanskrit. My initial proposals are:

1. Eliminate all external sandhi. Sandhi was arguably a device formulated as an aid to precise verbal transfer of the language and as such was needed then. We don't need it anymore. Sandhi only acts as a barrier for beginners to acquire proficiency in the language. A beginner who delves into Sanskrit and is moving along at a good pace is brought to a screeching halt when he or she encounters sandhi and more likely than not will give up at that point. An example from one of the forums here: na hi prapaśyāmi mamāpanudyādyacchokamucchoṣaṇamindriyāṇām --> na hi prapaśyāmi mama apanudyāt yat śokam ucchoṣaṇam indriyāṇām. See how much clearer and less ambiguous the sandhi-less sentence is. Is it any less easier to enunciate? Probably not. In any case we can always have IMPLICIT (caps for emphasis) SPOKEN sandhi. For example, we can write, saH Agachhati and say sAgachhati. This kind of elision for the purposes of euphony is in all languages, including English. But written language should be Sandhi-less.

2. Eliminate dvivachanam, 'nuff said.

3. More direct, active constructions. Samskrita Bharati, while doing wonderful work in popularizing Sanskrit, is pushing a rather convoluted form of past tense: krtavan instead of akarot, for instance. While the former is simpler it is the equivalent of someone saying in English, "I am an eaten man" instead of I ate. The former is fine for poetry but not for direct prose. The same goes for using Bhavan and 3rd person when addressing some one instead of tvam and 2nd person.

That is all for now. I would like to start a discussion on this topic. Also, I would like to hear if anyone is working on Modern Sanskrit in India.  Thanks for your patience.

Last edited by tbhagom (2013-03-14 20:26:36)


#2 2013-03-16 21:09:05

Registered: 2010-08-18
Posts: 256

Re: Toward a Modern Sanskrit

Nice topic. Thank you.

The desire to modernize Sanskrit usage has been around for a while and only folks who have made some headway in that direction is Samskrita Bhararti (SB).  As you have pointed out, their approach may not been perfect and that is not without a reason!

1) External Sandhi - Most Sanskrit prose published today from India has hardly any external Sandhi applied. You can see that in some of the short-story collections or novels from SB (e.g. व्यूहभेदः - collection of short stories 2007). Occasionally you will see a story or two in Chandamama which uses some sandhi exotica but we must realize that a these few are really targeted towards those who do want to exercise their Sandhi knowledge (e.g., Univ. students/graduates & experts)

2) Dual forms - Complete elimination is not really an option. One cannot use plural form when referring to a pair of objects; that will violate grammar! The trick is to use 'a pair of' and use singular form. Eg. जनद्वयं तत्र अस्ति । However we still have to live with आवाम्, भवन्तौ, etc. I cannot think of good clean way out of this fix :-(   

3) Using कृतन्त form, namely कृतवान् as opposed to अकरोत्  is not without reason. The standard form is not usable for all prefixes. E.g. Past tense of प्रक्षालयति cannot be अप्रक्षालयत् ; that is incorrect. However the कृतन्त forms of verbs is uniform and can be used for all verbs with or without prefixes.

From my view point, the key issues are synonyms and redundancy in Sanskrit. Sanskrit simply has too many of them (e.g., 200+ verbs to indicate 'go') and so it takes years before one has a sense of progress. This issue is a big-turn off for many folks, particularly the younger generation, who want to see some payback for their efforts as they progress through the course.

The issue of synonyms and redundancy in English language has been addressed already (http://ogden.basic-english.org/) , but we need something like this for Sanskrit so that we can get interested folks on board quickly. I started looking in that direction few months ago. If anyone is interested, we can discuss it further. This probably can be a good final-year project in Linguistics!


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