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Sanskrit Recommendations?

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Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby Talmid » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:40 pm

Okay, I'm finally going to get serious about improving my grasp of Indo-European languages. Can I get a few recommendations for resources to learn Sanskrit? My plan is to spend 2010 studying the language, and I aim to read small portions of the Vedas by the end of the year.

I prefer scholarship & grammars written before the 1970's -- don't know why exactly, but I've always preferred to learn from the old stuff. A lot of new scholarship makes be barf.

Thanks!
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby Damoetas » Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:06 pm

Others may have more recommendations, but I used to own Sanskrit: A Complete Course for Beginners (in the Teach Yourself series), by Michael Coulson. I never had time to get very far into it; I see that it has mixed reviews on Amazon.

Just out of curiosity, what is it about newer scholarship that makes you barf? :)
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby annis » Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:24 pm

I will go backwards, hopefully avoiding any emesis on the way...

There is no textbook in English that I know of which teaches Vedic. Like Homeric Greek, Vedic Sanskrit is an earlier form of the language mixed with an unnaturally lush collection of alternative grammatical forms. Actually, there's some reason to believe that Vedic and the ancestor of Classical Sanskrit are siblings, rather than that Vedic is the parent of Classical. That said, you have to start with Classical.

Everyone still uses Lanman's Sanskrit Reader to start. All over the English speaking world are people who can probably still recite the opening shloka's of the Nala story, even if they can remember nothing else of the Sanskrit they once studied. It starts off with Classical, but has a hefty Vedic section, too. Then MacDonell's Vedic Reader would be a good follow-up. He also has a grammar for both classical and Vedic.

Whitney's Sanskrit Grammar is also still a standard tool, but Jan Gonda's A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language is worth having. When I studied Sanskrit, that was the book the TA always had with her.

Except Gonda's, all the books I've mentioned above can be easily found in cheap reprints of varying quality. Take care that any copy of the Vedic Reader you order actually has the Sanskrit text, too. The front matter and translations have floated around the net freely for quite a while.

The Perry Sanskrit Primer — actually a translation of a German work — is a grand old book that can still be found in used bookstores without much effort. When I took Sanskrit the textbook was A Rapid Sanskrit Method which, while recent, shouldn't cause a classicist too much nausea. Devavanipravesika is still used in college courses, and again though recent should present a face recognizable to a classicist (though, I've not actually paged through a copy in more than a decade).
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby Talmid » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:23 am

Just out of curiosity, what is it about newer scholarship that makes you barf?


Here's one common mistake I find in the new stuff: "An infinitive doesn't have person...the accusative is the subject of the infinitive." The old grammars may say this too, but I haven't come across it yet--I do find it regularly in the new grammars.

Speaking of NT grammarians, see how many different ways Daniel Wallace defines or uses the term "aspect." Or read his explanation of a plenary genitive.

Well, my 3-year old boy just woke up, so I better get going!
Last edited by Talmid on Sat Sep 19, 2009 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby Damoetas » Sat Sep 19, 2009 1:05 am

Ah yes, I know of many people who take issue with Daniel Wallace.

Not to sidetrack the discussion too much, there is some really excellent newer stuff on Greek and Latin that you might be interested in checking out. It approaches the languages more from the perspective of modern linguistics, and rethinks some of the traditional categories that are sometimes used without justification. Here's a few:

Rijksbaron, Albert. The Syntax and Semantics of the Verb in Classical Greek: An Introduction. 3rd edition. Chicago, 2002.

Dik, Helma. Word Order in Ancient Greek: A Pragmatic Account of Word Order Variation in Herodotus. Brill, 1995.

---. Word Order in Greek Tragic Dialogue. Oxford, 2007.

Pinkster, Harm. Latin Syntax and Semantics. New York: Routledge, 1990. (This one can be read online here: http://cybergreek.uchicago.edu/lss/ and he has written many other things as well.)

Spevak, Olga. "The Position of Focus Constituents in Latin: A Comparison between Latin and Czech." Journal of Pragmatics 40/1 (2008), 114-126. (And many other articles, mostly in French but some in English.)

George, Coulter. Expressions of Agency in Ancient Greek. Cambridge, 2005.
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby Faylasoof » Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:33 pm

I second Annis’s recommendation for Gonda’s grammar. I would start with this one for the classical language. It has been reprinted recently. Details:

Jan Gonda’a “A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language: With Exercises, Reading Selections, And a Glossary. 2nd edition." (Paperback).

• Translated by Gordon B. Ford
• reprint of the 1966 edition, 2006
Publisher: University Alabama Press
Author: Jan Gonda,
Edition Number: 2
Language: English
ISBN: 0817352619

Whitney’s (deals with Vedic) and Macdonells’s grammars are available for free download!

A Sanskrit grammar; including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana (1879)
Whitney, William Dwight, 1827-1894

http://www.archive.org/details/sanskritgrammari00whituoft


A SANSKRIT GRAMMAR FOR STUDENTS (1927)
By A. MACDONELL

http://www.archive.org/details/sanskritgrammarf014425mbp

At some point you’ll need a good dictionary. Macdonell’s A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary is available in second hand bookshops or as an online version:

A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary with Transliteration, Accentuation, and Etymological Analysis by Arthur Anthony Macdonell's

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/macdonell/

Sanskrit: A Complete Course for Beginners (Teach Yourself series), by Michael Coulson is not that bad! But I would try Gonda first.

More books for download here (including comparative grammars of Sanskrit, Avesta, Latin and Greek):

http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=sanskrit%20grammar%20AND%20mediatype%3Atexts

Edit:
I’ve just been told that this book is also very good. Not seen it yet so can’t give a personal opinion.

Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 1 (Hardcover)
by Thomas Egenes

• Hardcover: 366 pages
• Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass; 1 edition (January 1, 2005)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 8120811402
• ISBN-13: 978-8120811409
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby oberon » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:58 pm

Personally, I found the "Teach Yourself" book Sanskrit: An Introduction to this Classical Language by Michael Coulson very helpful when I was beginning. 1976, though, so after your cut-off. However, I do have a useful vedic reader first published in 1917: A Vedic Reader for Students by Arthur Anthony MacDonell.
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Re: Sanskrit Recommendations?

Postby Nooj » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:12 am

I’ve just been told that this book is also very good. Not seen it yet so can’t give a personal opinion.

Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 1 (Hardcover)
by Thomas Egenes

• Hardcover: 366 pages
• Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass; 1 edition (January 1, 2005)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 8120811402
• ISBN-13: 978-8120811409
That's the standard textbook for Sanskrit in my university. I've tried working through the first couple of chapters and I found it well set out and logical.
Dolor poetas creat.
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