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LRC Blog

July 16, 2010

Karen Thomson

Missing Letter in Sandhi Table

N.B. The email exchange below may have been edited, e.g. to remove content not essential to the main point(s) or to standardize English spelling/grammar.

Comment

Re: Sandhi of consonants -- Great page ... Please note that initial -l- is missing from the table...

T. L.

Reply

Dear T. L.,

Many thanks for your kind comments about our course on Ancient Sanskrit. You are quite correct in observing that initial l- is absent from the consonant sandhi table.

Having read the course you will know that it describes the language of the earliest poetry only, the language of the RV, and that a primary concern was to make this little-studied form of Sanskrit as accessible as possible. The sandhi table is designed simply for the reader's occasional reference, which is why it it is, unusually, relegated to an appendix. I didn't want to frighten [readers] off with a mass of intimidating rules deriving from later editorial practice, as I explain in the introduction: "many of the sandhi changes made by the later editors were in fact artificial, and the result of the imposition of fixed rules onto a language that was more naturally flexible. In English most sandhi changes are not written, but in Sanskrit they are extensively reproduced in writing. This, as Michael Coulson mildly expresses it in his guide to the Classical language, Teach Yourself Sanskrit, is 'not necessarily a good thing.' The complexity of the written sandhi system is potentially alienating for a beginner."

In the case of l-, I didn't include it in the table because it is of very rare occurence in the RV (where initial r- usually takes its place: it doesn't occur at all in the course). What is more, the traditional sandhi of l- is distinctly offputting! At the beginning of the appendix I refer the reader to the grammars in which a complete description of sandhi can be found.

Thank you for writing: it's very good to have feedback, and to know that it is not just Sanskrit beginners who are reading the course!

Best wishes, K. T.