Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Panini - the ancient Sanskrit sage behind Chomsky

Panini was one of the most inventive and original people who helped in the development of knowledge of Sanskrit grammar. He is considered to be the founder of literature and language. This famous Sanskrit grammarian gave a scientific analysis of Sanskrit phonetics and morphology. Being the language of Gods, Sanskrit was considered to be a complete and the perfect language. Panini analyzed the classical Sanskrit language, which was the language of all literary works, and more light was thrown on the phonology of this language.

Among Panini's works, the most famous and major one is called "Ashtadhyayi". It is a thesis that consists of eight chapters and each chapter is divided into quarter chapters. This treatise basically highlights the difference between the language of holy texts and the language used for communicating in normal lives. A basic set of rules and grammar was given to describe Sanskrit grammar. He went on step by step and explained the use of nouns, vowels and verbs and divided them into classes. He then went on to explain the construction of sentences and the use of compound nouns and tenses. It is very similar to the principles of Mathematics as the construction of this grammatical pattern function mathematically.


D - Panini is the key thinker behind all the great modern Western linguistics, including (even especially) Chomsky.

Modern linguistics

Pāṇini's work became known in 19th century Europe, where it influenced modern linguistics initially through Franz Bopp, who mainly looked at Pāṇini. Subsequently, a wider body of work influenced Sanskrit scholars such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Leonard Bloomfield, and Roman Jakobson. Frits Staal discussed the impact of Indian ideas on language in Europe. After outlining the various aspects of the contact, Staal notes that the idea of formal rules in language, proposed by de Ferdinand de Saussure in 1894 and developed by Noam Chomsky in 1957 has origins in the European exposure to the formal rules of Pāṇinian grammar. In particular, de Saussure, who lectured on Sanskrit for three decades, may have been influenced by Pāṇini and Bhartrihari; his idea of the unity of signifier-signified in the sign is somewhat similar to the notion of Sphoṭa. More importantly, the very idea that formal rules can be applied to areas outside of logic or mathematics, may itself have been catalyzed by Europe's contact with the work of Sanskrit grammarians.[19]


Know’im Chompski.
## ^ that’s almost as mean as Nim Chimpsky
Mathematician by background. Under the employ of MIT, which is partially funded by the US Army. Ironically, also an anarcho-libertarian.
Chomsky made grammaticality a focus (existed in Panini’s work, but wasn’t a focus)
##However, one of the biggest issues with his focus was that his grammaticality (or methods) fail when used with statistical methods due to the creative nature of languages.
Lancelot said you can work out grammaticality by whether it makes sense or not. Chomsky didn’t take this view.
Chomsky is responsible for the ‘does that sound ok to me?’ mechanism, forever relegating syntacticians to the traditional role of navel-gazing.


D - we all owe Panini, the Sanskrit grammatician, a great debt of gratitude!

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