Talk:Sanskrit

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What do we do in this article that ToW doesn't already do, and better?[edit]

Don't get me wrong, this is a nice little article. What does it do that the Wikipedia version doesn't? PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 21:42, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Just getting started here. Will collect some of the "Sanskrit is the first language of humanity" material and add it once I get a better handle on it; that much is out there. It also seems a reasonable place to cover "om" for the time being. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 21:49, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Okay. I have what I imagine is a pretty unpopular opinion about mission creep/mistaking RW for an encyclopedia/the notion that a third to half our articles exist only because they let people write about stuff that they think is cool or happen to know something about and add little value to the project/how RW would be better at its job if we got rid of most everything having to do with general knowledge, or politics, or economics, and focused on a few hundred really really good articles on woo and pseudoscience. But I probably don't want to start that fight today. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 21:54, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm with PS&L. Don't see how this, or any of Smerdis's other articles about the history of languages, serve our site missions. WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:02, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I guess there is something I still am not getting here. There is a minor but real body of woo attached to Sanskrit; Hindu fundamentalists want to claim that Sanskrit is the first language of humanity, the ancestor of all the world's languages, and indigenous to India. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 04:18, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
So add a paragraph to Hindu nationalism, with links to a couple of good websites. SophieWilderModerator 21:26, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
It's really about me, isn't it? This sort of thing seems to dog many of the articles I've sought to add. I've yet to derive anything from the discussions, or those at Essay talk:English spelling reform, or Talk:Romanticism, an article created from the to-do list, what exactly are the aspects of these subjects that make them off-mission or off-topic. I'm also a bit confused as to how articles on Latin or British English are judged worthy while an article on Sanskrit, a subject that has in fact drawn more eccentric speculation than either of those does not belong. (Latin has a fair amount of woo attached, actually; I'll dig a bit of it up if my edits are in fact welcome.)
At any rate, if this article belongs anywhere else, it probably belongs in an article about Indo-European languages, an article I'll wager we don't have. That article could cover a variety of related pseudolinguistic concepts that we probably either don't have articles on (Proto-World, Nostratic hypothesis. Joseph Greenberg) or some small articles that are mostly about Indo-European and related concepts (Aryan, Marija Gimbutas). This would involve creating more articles about the history of languages, though. If you don't want it done, or you just don't want me doing it, let me know. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 04:19, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
This really isn't a linguistics wiki. I don't foresee any of those things fitting in well here. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 09:15, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Smerdis writed: "It's really about me, isn't it?" No, it really is about the articles. The other language articles the wiki has are of somewhat doubtful "legitimacy" as well.--Weirdstuff (talk) 09:24, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I think the problem here is that Smerdis has a tendency to digress, heavily. Sometimes, as here, before even getting to the reason an article exists in the first place.
RW exists to debunk. That's our goal; everything else is secondary. Smerdis' articles have a distinct tendency to provide much more background than is necessary. It's hard for us to criticize your work, though, because you really are a terrific writer, and what you write is always interesting and enlightening. I think you should look first at debunking, and reduce the amount of content that isn't relevant to that. In this particular case I agree with Sophie; adding the relevant parts to the page on Hindu nationalism and scrapping the rest makes sense to me. (As much as I as a lover of languages would hate to see it go.) Wehpudicabok [話] [変] 10:09, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Smerdis: " I'm also a bit confused as to how articles on Latin or British English are judged worthy." I don't think they are worthy, and they should be deleted. PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 13:52, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

I do find it hard to march straight into These writers will take exception to the usual claims of historical linguistics.... without first providing some context as to what those claims are. Debunking the Hindu nationalists is not particularly complicated, but it requires a bit of technical background. I'm also not convinced that a bunch of stuff about centum and satem languages would really read well in Hindu nationalism either. I still think that a page on Indo-European languages would be useful, and that it should go into some detail about encyclopedia stuff concerning the methods of historical linguistics. I don't see a large difference here between talking about creationism, and the evidence that establishes evolution. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 17:00, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Or you could link to a site that does that already. SophieWilderModerator 11:37, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

At this stage, I am damned proud of this....[edit]

... and would propose to give it a brainstar. The article as it stands is on mission, establishes the existence of a body of pseudo-lore, and explains the rather complicated and technical evidence that shows why it is wrong in prose that I've done my damnedest to make sure that an educated layperson could follow. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 05:44, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

This BON agrees. Excellent work. From an insider's view, it is essentially correct (not gonna nitpick on minor details nobody here cares for anyway). Not sure about the outsider's view (the specialist myopia is strong with me), but as far as I can tell, it should make sense to the educated layman, even if it cannot answer all possible objections in detail. --84.151.168.158 (talk) 01:13, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the vote of confidence. If you think there's anything technically wrong in there (I'm entirely an amateur at this, and the article pretty much has to paint in broad strokes) this is a wiki, so go ahead and improve it. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 06:13, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

NASA says Sanskrit is "the ideal language for AI"... not[edit]

This story looks suitable for incorporating into the article in some form: http://smritiweb.com/navin/miscellaneous/what-is-so-scientific-about-sanskrit-seriousquestion , since apparently it's been making the rounds for quite some time (example). --ZooGuard (talk) 13:43, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Looks interesting, will check it out. Similar claims have been made for Esperanto, I think. - Smerdis of Tlön, A ⇒ ¬A. 18:12, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes. Guarani is so logical, it seems more like a language created in a laboratory (like Esperanto) than a natural one.--04:01, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

Aryan invaders quotemine[edit]

That material probably belongs in Indo-European languages rather than here, and I see that a bit more was added here than there, but the sections seem to be duplicated. And I'm not sure what the point is; that Indo-European speakers migrated seems to be generally accepted, and the article already shows that the language Sanskrit originated out of can't be native to India; but their portrayal as military conquerors imposing a language of empire is quite wide of the mark. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 15:50, 6 October 2017 (UTC)

Ok, I agree that the material should not be duplicated. I have put it below for reference. Cheers. --Stargazer (talk) 16:14, 6 October 2017 (UTC)


Removed Quotes[edit]

  • Why do serious scholars persist in believing in the Aryan invasions?... Why is this sort of thing attractive? Who finds it attractive? Why has the development of early Sanskrit come to be so dogmatically associated with an Aryan invasion?… Where the Indo-European philologists are concerned, the invasion argument is tied in with their assumption that if a particular language is identified as having been used in a particular locality at a particular time, no attention need be paid to what was there before; the slate is wiped clean. Obviously, the easiest way to imagine this happening in real life is to have a military conquest that obliterates the previously existing population! The details of the theory fit in with this racist framework... Because of their commitment to a unilineal segmentary history of language development that needed to be mapped onto the ground, the philologists took it for granted that proto-Indo-Iranian was a language that had originated outside either India or Iran. Hence it followed that the text of the Rig Veda was in a language that was actually spoken by those who introduced this earliest form of Sanskrit into India. From this we derived the myth of the Aryan invasions. QED. The origin myth of British colonial imperialism helped the elite administrators in the Indian Civil Service to see themselves as bringing `pure' civilization to a country in which civilization of the most sophisticated (but `morally corrupt') kind was already nearly 6,000 years old. Here I will only remark that the hold of this myth on the British middle-class imagination is so strong that even today, 44 years after the death of Hitler and 43 years after the creation of an independent India and independent Pakistan, the Aryan invasions of the second millennium BC are still treated as if they were an established fact of history. (...) Common sense might suggest that here was a striking example of a refutable hypothesis that had in fact been refuted. Indo-European scholars should have scrapped all their historical reconstructions and started again from scratch. But that is not what happened. Vested interests and academic posts were involved. Almost without exception the scholars in question managed to persuade themselves that despite appearances, the theories of the philologists and the hard evidence could be made to fit together. The trick was to think of the horse-riding Aryans as conquerors of the cities of the Indus civilization in the same way that the Spanish conquistadors were conquerors of the cities of Mexico and Peru or the Israelites of the Exodus were conquerors of Jericho.
    • Sir Edmund Leach. "Aryan invasions over four millennia. In Culture through Time, Anthropological Approaches, edited by E. Ohnuki-Tierney, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1990, pp. 227-245.
  • The Indo-Aryan invasion(s) as an academic concept in 18th- and 19th-century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of that period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archaeological and anthropological data.What was theory became unquestioned fact that was used to interpret and organise subsequent data. It is time to end the "linguistic tyranny" that has prescribed interpretative frameworks of pre- and proto-historic cultural development in South Asia.
    • Jim Shaffer, 1984, ‘The Indo-Aryan Invasions: Cultural Myth and Archaeological Reality’ in Lukacs JR (ed) The People of South Asia: the Biological Anthropology of India, Pakistan and Nepal, Phenum, NY. p.88.
  • Although the overall socioeconomic organization changed, continuities in technology, subsistence practices, settlement organization, and some regional symbols show that the indigenous population was not displaced by invading hordes of Indo-Aryan speaking people. For many years, the ‘invasions’ or ‘migrations’ of these Indo-Aryan-speaking Vedic/Aryan tribes explained the decline of the Indus civilization and the sudden rise of urbanization in the Ganga-Yamuna valley. This was based on simplistic models of culture change and an uncritical reading of Vedic texts...
    • JM Kenoyer, quoted In The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Edwin Bryant, 2001,p.190
  • One thing which keeps on astonishing me in the present debate is the complete lack of doubt in both camps. Personally, I don’t think that either theory, of Aryan invasion and of Aryan indigenousness, can claim to have been "proven" by prevalent standards of proof; even though one of the contenders is getting closer. Indeed, while I have enjoyed pointing out the flaws in the AIT [Aryan Invasion Theory] statements of the politicized Indian academic establishment and its American amplifiers, I cannot rule out the possibility that the theory which they are defending may still have its merits."
    • Koenraad Elst, Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate, (1999)
  • Several people who have examined Indo-European scholarship have drawn parallels between research about the Proto-Indo-European world and myths, in the sense of narratives aobut origin. Indo-European research has, in many ways, been an attempt to write the origin narrative of the bourgeois class - a narrative that, by talking about how things originally were, has sanctioned a certain kind of behavior, idealized a certain type of person, and affirmed certain feelings. Certainly, there have been some scholars who have not identified themselves with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, but they are few.
    • Arvidsson, S. (2006). Aryan idols: Indo-European mythology as ideology and science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p.319-320
  • To be sure, neither Jones nor anyone else was wrong to perceive strong and systematic similarities among Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, and the rest. The question is what one makes of these similarities, and one steps onto a slippery slope whenever analysis moves from the descriptive to the historic plane of linguistics. In specific, reconstructing a "protolanguage" is an exercise that invites one to imagine speakers of that protolanguage, a community of such people, then a place for that community, a time in history, distinguishing characteristics, and a set of contrastive relations with other protocommunities where other protolanguages were spoken. For all of this, need it be said, there is no sound evidentiary warrant.
    • Lincoln, B. (1999). Theorizing myth: Narrative, ideology, and scholarship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p.95

Reason for reversion?[edit]

I'm a little confused at why my deletion of the following was reverted:

  For instance, because there is disagreement among linguists about the Indo-European homeland, claiming that it is native to India is as likely as any other explanation:[1]

This is odd because the subsequent sections, "Sanskrit is not the first language" and "Sanskrit origins" show why it isn't "as likely as any other explanation," and why it isn't an argument from ignorance but from evidence. Naiant (talk) 19:41, 28 October 2017 (UTC)

The scholarly consensus is that Sanskrit comes from a language that originated outside India. FWIW, that link is broken. It's quoted in the article as an example of a standard woo argument, and a pretty obvious example of argument from ignorance; from a Hare Krishna apologist, not exactly a trustworthy source. - Smerdis of Tlön, LOAD "*", 8, 1. 01:52, 29 October 2017 (UTC)
  1. Stephen Knapp, Sanskrit: Was it the Original Language?, Haindava Keralam