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The Sanskrit Language

The Sanskrit Language
Item Code: NAT888
Author: T. Burrow
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9788120817678
Pages: 438
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.69 kg
About the Book

The Sanskrit Language presents a systematic and comprehensive historical account of the develop- ments in phonology and morphology. This is the only book in English which treats the structure of the Sanskrit language in its relation to the other Indo-European languages and throws light on the significance of the discovery of Sanskrit. It is this discovery that contributed to the study of the comparative philology of the Indo- European languages and eventually the whole science of modern linguistics. Besides drawing on the works of Brugmann and Wacker- nagel, Professor Burrow incorporates in this book material from Hittite and taking into account various verbal constructions as found in Hittite, he relates the perfect form of Sanskrit to it. The profound influence that the Dravidian languages had on the structure of the Sanskrit language has also been presented lucidly and with a balanced perspective. In a nutshell, the present work can be called, without exaggeration, a pioneering endeavour in the field of linguistics and Indology.

About the author

Professor T. Burrow was an Indologist and the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at _ the University of Oxford from 1944 to 1976. He contributed to all the branches of philology, linguistics, and Dravidian studies. He was seminal thinker and collaborated with Professor M. Emeneau in the preparation of A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary — a magnum opus in the study of Dravidian languages and Indology. He also contributed to the study of Middle Indo- Aryan languages. His other works include The Problem of Shiva in Sanskrit.


The discovery of the Sanskrit language by European scholars — at the end of the eighteenth century was the starting point from which developed the study of the comparative philology of the Indo-European languages and eventually the whole science of modern linguistics. In spite of this there does not exist. in English any book presenting a systematic account of Sanskrit in its relation to the other Indo-European languages. One may even go further and say that there is no work in any language which adequately fulfils this purpose. Wackernagel’s great work, begun sixty years ago, still remains to be completed, although, with the recent appearance of a further instalment, its completion has been brought nearer. Thumb’s Handbuch des Sanskrit which was of service to many generations of students is now very much dated, and always fell between the two stools of trying to be an elementary text-book of Sanskrit and a treatise on its comparative grammar at the same time.

On account of its antiquity and well-preserved structure Sanskrit is of unique importance for the study of Indo-European, and an up-to-date account of its comparative grammar is necessary, not only to students of Sanskrit itself, but also to those interested in any branch of Indo-European philology. Consequently when I was asked to contribute a book on Sanskrit to the series The Great Languages, it was clear that by concentrating on the study of Sanskrit from this point of view the greatest need would be met. This is particularly true since for the history of Indo-Aryan inside India, from Sanskrit down to modern times, students already have at their disposal the _ excellent work of Jules Bloch.

Providing a reliable account of Sanskrit in its relation to Indo-European is at the present moment not altogether a simple matter. Forty years ago there existed a generally agreed doc- trine of Indo-European theory which had been systematically presented in the early years of the century in Brugmann’s Grundriss. At that time it would merely have been a question of adopting this corpus of agreed doctrine to the needs of the student and general reader, and of the particular language described. Since then the discovery of Hittite has revolution- ised Indo-European studies and a considerable part of the older theory has been unable to stand up to the new evidence. Consequently Indo-European studies can now be said to be in a state of flux. New theories have appeared, and are clearly necessary, but the process is not yet completed. There is no generally received body of doctrine replacing the old, and many of the fundamental points at issue remain disputed. Further- more attention has tended to be largely concentrated on phonetic questions raised by Hittite, and matters of morphology, on which its evidence is also of fundamental importance, have been less exhaustively studied.

In these circumstances I have attempted to present a reason- ably consistent account of the comparative grammar of Sanskrit based on the evaluation of the new evidence. A work like this is not the place to enter into discussion of the various conflicting theories that are in the field, if only for reasons of space, and bibliographical references have been systematically omitted, What has been written in recent years on these problems has been taken into account, and such theories as appear acceptable are incorporated in this exposition. It is hoped that it will go some way to providing an up-to-date synthesis of a subject which in its present state is hardly accessible outside the widely scattered specialist literature.

The study of Sanskrit has advanced recently in another direc- tion also. Investigation of the influence of the pre-Aryan languages of India on Sanskrit and on Indo-Aryan in its later stages, has shown that this is considerable and solid results have been achieved. As far as the structure of the language is concerned, particularly in its early stage, which is the only one relevant to the comparative study: of Indo-European, this influ- ence hardly counts at all. On the other hand in the field of vocabulary it is very important that the Indo-European and non-Indo-European elements should be separated. The last chapter of the book contains a summary of the main findings on the part of the subject so far as established at the present stage. Future work will no doubt add more.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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