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Latin vs. Sanskrit

 
Monday, February 18, 2008, 14:22 - Books, dictionaries and texts, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern, Learn Latin Language
Posted by Administrator
Interesting article:

http://info.anu.edu.au/mac/Newsletters_ ... nscrit.asp

Iíve seen a figure of 1.4 million Sanskrit manuscripts currently in existence. For Classical Greek and Latin combined, there are 30,000 manuscripts. This is Sanskritís monument, that vast scope of surviving, hand-written documents sitting in peopleís libraries and temples. The size of the corpus is absolutely enormous. And the breadth of material boggles the imagination. Everyone knows the Kama Sutra, for example, which is a manual on sexual technique. But there are also texts on elephant-raising, architecture, astrology, medicine, grammar, spiritual traditions, geography Ė the vast scope of subjects covered by Sanskrit documents is amazing.

An elderly Sanskrit scholar, who had spent 50 years studying the language, was once asked what it was like to have spent so long on the subject. He replied, ďSanskrit is a boundless ocean, and I am still standing on the shoreĒ. There is no such thing as finishing Sanskrit. You donít have to worry about getting anywhere. You should always look behind you and get your satisfaction from what youíve done, because itís a journey without an end.

What is its future?

I am the only person, possibly in the world, who truly believes that Sanskrit is the language of the future. We canít easily read Shakespeare without a glossary. Thereís no way you can read Chaucer without a glossary because English is changing so quickly. But I can pick up a Sanskrit document written in the last 2,000 years and make a good fist of it. It hasnít changed. In 1,000 years time, Sanskrit will still be the same, but every other language will have changed beyond in recognition.


How fortuitous! I was just thinking about picking up another book on elephant raising! Seriously, I have deep respect for Sanskrit literature, but my allegiance forever lies with Latin. I also know a few people who are convinced that Latin is the language of the future, of which I am highly doubtful. There is also a small discrepancy in saying that Sanskrit is a boundless ocean (and even an elderly scholar feels like he is only standing on its shore) and proclaiming that Sanskrit has not changed and one can easily understand ancient texts. True, it must have been better codified early on, but Classical Latin ain't changing either. Besides, if you know Classical Latin you can read with ease many medieval texts. Anyway, I just don't see the point in saying that a certain language is so much better and more important than others. Those other languages are equally important linguistically (kudos to Mr. Chomsky!) and may have produced great literatures, even if the people who wrote in those languages did not have much to say about elephant raising!

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