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Re: ARTICLE : SANSKRIT- A CULTURED LANGUAGE

Posted By Sankar Jayanarayanan (kartik@Eng.Auburn.EDU)
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 00:43:44 -0600

<itechsom@voicenet.com> wrote:

> SANSKRIT - A CULTURED LANGUAGE
>
> According to the Forbes magazine (July,1987), "Sanskrit is the most
> convenient language for somputer software programming".

The following URL provides some information on Panini's contribution to
Sanskrit grammar:

http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Panini.html

Here's is what it says:

----------------------------
Panini

Born: about 520 BC in India
Died: about 460 BC in India

The dates given for Panini are pure guesses. Experts give dates in the 4th, 5th
and 6th century BC.

Panini was a Sanskrit grammarian who gave a comprehensive and scientific theory
of phonetics, phonology, and morphology. Sanskrit was the classical literary
language of the Indian Hindus.

In a treatise called Astadhyayi Panini distinguishes between the language of
sacred texts and the usual language of communication. Panini gives formal
production rules and definitions to describe Sanskrit grammar. The construction
of sentences, compound nouns etc. is explained as ordered rules operating on
underlying structures in a manner similar to modern theory.

Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language
theory used to specify computer languages. The Backus Normal Form was
discovered independently by John Backus in 1959, but Panini's notation is
equivalent in its power to that of Backus and has many simolar properties.

References:

1. P Z Ingerman, 'Panini-Backus form' suggested, Communications of
the ACM 10 (3)(1967), 137.
----------------------------

> Sanskrit (means "cultured"), is the classsical language of Hinduism. It is
> the oldest and the most systematic language in the world. It is vast and
> versatile.

"Sanskrit" or "samskR^itaM" is derived from "saM" = a prefix for "good," and
verb root "kR^i" = "to do."

So "samskR^itaM" (in samskR^itaM) approximately means "well done!"

[..]

> Panini's Sanskrit grammar, produced in about 300 BCE, is the shortest and
> fullest grammar in the world. According to Sir Monier-Williams,
> (Englishman, Sanskrit scholar 1819-1899):
>
> "The Panini grammar reflects the wondrous capacity of the hyman brain
> which till today no other country has been able to produce except India".
>

I believe Leonard Bloomfield (Famous linguist of German origin and also known
as the father of American Linguistics) commented on Panini's Astadhyayi :
"Monumental piece of human intelligence."

-Kartik

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