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PANINI'S GRAMMAR - A FEW CHARACTERISTICS
Anirban Dash, Ph.D.
PANINI'S GRAMMAR - PRAISED BY ALL
The ASTaadhyaayii of PaaNini (5th Century B.C) is a monumental work, comprising about four thousand short aphorisms, best known for its technical excellence.
VyaakaraNa is a term for grammar in Sanskrit. It means a set of rules by which the language is analyzed ( for example, vyaakriyate'neneti vyaakaraNam).
The Sanskrit grammatical tradition has always been praising PaaNini for his exactness in compiling the rules in a particular order, his minute observations and precision in his descriptive technique.
Eminent linguist L. Bloomfield described Panini in his book Language as "the greatest monument of human intelligence".
NATURE OF PAANINI'S GRAMMAR - THE SUTRA STYLE
Panini's grammar is written in a sutra style. The term sutra means string or thread. It represents a particular type of style in Sanskrit literature.
The definition of sutra is follows:
alpaaksaram asandigdham shaasvad vishvatomukham
aStobham anavadyam ca sUtram sUtravido viduh //
It means that the scholars who know what a sutra is understand sutra to be holy, consisting of a few letters, containing clarity, having the essence, open on all sides, without ambiguity.
PaaNini's sutras are regarded as the most ideal illustration of the sutra style. However, the sutra style of the composition came into existence even before him. Many had composed their grammars in sutra style.
ECONOMY OF EXPRESSION
PaaNini has made use of a number of devices to achieve economy of expression. It is because of these devices that PaaNini could compose the grammar of the Sanskrit Language, both Vedic and non-Vedic, only in 4000 rules. The technique of anuvrtti and adhikaara, the use of Anubandhas, the use of pratyaahaaras are some of the prominent devices employed by PaaNini to achieve brevity.
IT IS A DERIVATIONAL GRAMMAR
PaaNini's work is devoted to the description of Sanskrit language. At the outset, it must be pointed out that, PaaNini's avowed goal was to provide an adequate descriptive grammar for Sanskrit and not to make a semantic analysis of the language. As a result, PaaNini focused only on deriving grammatically correct phrases and sentences, and not on the derivational process involving a number of syntactical, morphological and phonological operations. Thus, PaNini's grammar is primarily a derivational grammar.
PaaNini reduced almost all the grammatical notions to the level of morphemes. For instance, from the PaaNinian point of view, concepts such as person, tense and case are nothing but a set of suffixes expressing these ideas. For example, his declaration, TiNasrINi trINi prathamamadhyamottamaaH P.1.4.101.
PANINIAN APPROACH TO LINGUISTIC PHILOSOPHY - A STOREHOUSE OF LINGUISTIC THEORIES
It is known that PaaNini's ASTaadhyaayii is not philosophical in nature. However, this does not mean that it totally lacks the philosophical import. PaaNini's ASTaadhyaayii is storehouse of linguistics theories. Though PaaNini did not write any theoretical treatise on language, his ASTaadhyaayii uses and presupposes linguistic theories. PaaNinian sutras reveal that a strong and full-fledged system of linguistic concepts underlies them. Therefore, all the linguistic philosophers and grammarians like PataNjali, Katyaayna and Bhartrhari, et al. drew upon PaaNinian sutras and quoted them as proof for various kinds of linguistics theories and philosophical concepts.
For example, PataNjali, while discussing two-fold nature of the meaning as universal and particular, quotes PaaNini as authority behind his assumption. According to Patanjali, PaaNini has accepted both views, Universal and particular, as the import of word. PaaNini's Sutra 'jaatyaakhyaamekasminbahuvacanamanyatarasyaam' (P. 1.2.58) is based on the assumption that the primary sense of word is universal. On the other hand, the sutra 'sarUpaaNaamekasheSa ekavibhaktau' (P. 1.2 64) is based on the view that the primary sense of it is the particular.
LANGUAGE IS A TOTAL AND INTEGRATED SYSTEM
PaaNini views language as a total and integrated system. He gives due importance to its parts as words existing in the total structure of language and not in isolation or wholly independent. The sentence is the kernel item of derivational process in PaaNini. This process starts with sentence and ends in sentence construction.
PaaNinian padas also never stand in their absolute and isolated position, rather always in syntactic structure. He has concerned himself with the syntactical, morphological, and phonological description of Sanskrit. He has also given due consideration to accentuation, which is a very important characteristic of any spoken language. However, semantics is one such branch of linguistics, which is left unattended by him.
SEMANTICS AND PANINI
Patanjali in his MahaabhaaSya, declares in unambiguous terms that grammar is a science of words (shabdaanushaasanam). Meaning is not a subject matter of grammar; it is learnt from the worldly usages. Patanjali remarks that usage among people gives the sense; the science of grammar only determines the use of correct words with a view to achieve merit: LokataH arthaprayukte Shabdaprayoga shaastre dharmaniyamaH.
Thus, we see that the consideration of meaning was kept in the backseat in the early days of PaaNinian grammatical tradition. Therefore, PaaNini was not led away by semantic considerations, but he used them in his grammar so far as they do not go against formal considerations. Thus, for instance, PaaNini provides rules to derive the verbal and nominal forms through affixation, conditioned in part by the semantics categories. The fact of the matter is that PaaNini clearly understood the importance of semantic features in grammatical analysis, involving only formal features.
PANINI'S USE OF SEMANTIC ASPECTS
PaaNini made use of semantic aspects in his grammar in three main ways (Proceeding of the International Seminar on studies in the ASTaadhyaayee of PaaNini, "PaaNini's Uses of Semantics" P.S. Subrahmanyam, P. 127-128, University of Pune.)
- PaNini used semantic concepts, i.e. vartamaana (present time), bahutva (plurality) as a starting point in his grammar to derive the corresponding phonological forms by a series of replacement rules.
- As far as it was possible, he used semantic concepts for grouping words and stems to form class system (for example, varNa 'color words').
- The shades of meaning were conveyed by the whole derived words (consisting of the root and suffixes or compound).
In addition, PaaNini utilized semantic markers to distinguish members of groups of semantically related words when this is required for the correct description of the data.
- Domestic animals (pashu) P. 2.4.7
- Tree (vrkSa) P. 2.4.12
- Grain (dhaanya) P. 2.4.12
Thus, it can be said that PaaNini's use of semantic aspects of the word was limited to the derivation of correct forms, and therefore can be called as secondary.
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LANGUAGE AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA | THE ROOTS OF LINGUISTIC REORGANIZATION OF INDIAN PROVINCES - DR. ANNIE BESANT AND HER HOME RULE MOVEMENT | MALAYALAM - HOW TO ARREST ITS WITHERING AWAY? | PANINI'S GRAMMAR - A FEW CHARACTERISTICS | LEARNING CLASSICAL STYLES OF LANGUAGES - A BRIEF REVIEW OF HOW BIBLICAL LANGUAGES WORK | RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VERBAL ABILITY AND STUDENTS' ACHIEVEMENT IN SECONDARY SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA | COMBATING TERRORISM - CONFLICT AND POWER EQUATIONS - A Sociolinguistic Perspective - WHAT CAN INDIAN MYTHOLOGY AND PROVERBS OFFER? | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
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