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February 10, 2013 / A

Start 3.4

Like the man who wades into the pool and is surprised to get wet, I’ve foolishly run headfirst into these chapters only to quickly get myself in over my head. It’s not so much a matter of memorizing the text as it is of organizing the rules into meaningful chunks. So before I start with 3.4, a summary of what it contains:

3.4.1 – 3.4.8: लिण्, लेट्, and लोट्

On the tail-end of the discussion from 3.3, 3.4 continues by talking about लिङ् and लोट् in a bit more detail. It also introduces the Vedic suffix लेट्, which I know nothing about.

3.4.9 – 3.4.66: कृत् suffixes that form indeclinables

Most of these rules focus on णमुल्, an affix that I still don’t know anything about. But there are also some about the Vedic affix कसुन्, the usual suspects क्त्वा (गत्वा) and तुमुन् (गन्तुम्), and a whole string of infinitive suffixes, which bounce off the tongue like bells in the wind:

3.4.9 तुमर्थे सेसेनसेअसेन्कसेकसेनध्यैअध्यैन्कध्यैकध्यैन्शध्यैशध्यैन्तवैतवेङ्तवेनः
से, असे, etc. are added after a धातु in the sense of the suffix तुम्.

3.4.67 – 3.4.76: verbal affixes and their scope

These rules give a high-level overview of some important affix groups, like ल (लट् etc.), क्त, and कृत् suffixes overall.

3.4.77 – 3.4.166: generating ल affixes

For me, this is the highlight of the chapter. These rules show how a basic set of affixes is transformed to suit the needs of various tenses, modes, and voices.

These transformations are a Paninian construction and don’t have much basis in linguistic reality, but regardless they’re worthwhile for a few reasons. First, it’s a simple and self-contained of Panini’s notions of economy and linguistic modeling. Second, I still don’t have some of these affixes straight, even after being around Sanskrit for so long. And finally: so much of the Ashtadhyayi has abstracted the task of word formation into arranging special Paninian suffixes and stopping just before the suffixes really make themselves manifest. For instance, I still don’t know the details of how भू + शप् + तिप् becomes भवति. But in some sense, these final rules represent the first efforts of the text to engage with the grit and smoke of a linguistic reality. This is a trend I hope will continue through books 6 through 8, which orchestrate the great dance of the suffixes into a perfect Sanskrit performance.

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