What is in a word ?

It came to mind that words distinguish one language from the other. So I searched for “What is a word in English grammar ?” I got “.. It is easy to give examples of words, but much harder to give a precise definition. ..”

Since I have come to believe that Sanskrit grammar is more precise, I searched first for translation of the word “word” into Sanskrit. I get a large number of optional translations at http://spokensanskrit.de/index.php?script=HK&beginning=0+&tinput=word&trans=Translate&direction=AU

Those that appealed to me as notable are – शब्द, पद, निगम, निघण्टु, वाच्, उक्ति, ध्वनि, from the first page. And there are 25+ more pages ! Does that itself justify the title of this article “What is in a word ?”

Among all these, I think Sanskrit grammar acknowledges पद as the grammatical terminology for what is called as “word” in English grammar.

In my article on “Phonetics and Phonology in Sanskrit” I dwelt upon how different intonations of vowels can be meaningful.

The question now is “By being meaningful do they become words ?” I am inclined to take recourse to समर्थः पदविधिः (पा. सूत्रम् 2-1-1) where I would interpret

  1. अर्थेण सह इति समर्थः what is meaningful is समर्थ
  2. विधिः = becoming; hence पदविधिः = becoming of a पद
  3. समर्थः पदविधिः = that, which has its becoming meaningful is पद. In saying so, I am interpreting समर्थः पदविधिः as यस्य विधिः समर्थः तत्पदम्

I know that this interpretation is questionable. Many may raise their eyebrows. But this helps me to contend that all those vowel-intonations, which are meaningful, can as well be called as पद-s.

I get further justification to this contention of mine from स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् (१।१।३७)

  1. All vowel-intonations are स्वरादिनिपात-s.
    1. निपात = intonation or expression which is
    2. स्वरादि = beginning with a vowel
  2. स्वरादिनिपात-s are अव्यय-s.
  3. अव्यय-s are पद-s.
  4. All vowel-intonations are पद-s.

I do not know whether English grammar would acknowledge “Uhm” or “eh” as words.

Interestingly, all स्वरादिनिपात-s seem to have universally same meaning, independent of languages. They do not have to be listed in dictionaries. But transliterations can be different, depending upon the script.

One need not go into etymology of these vowel-intonations, to find out how they emerge and get their meanings, as they emerge.

There is no need of morphological analysis, because there is no morphology. They are अव्यय-s.

Curiously, since every सूत्रम् which has the word आदि in it is detailed further in गणपाठ-appendix of अष्टाध्यायी, the गणपाठ related to स्वरादिनिपातमव्ययम् reads –

स्वरादिः। स्वर्। अन्तर्। प्रातर्। अन्तोदात्ताः। पुनर्। सनुतर्। उच्चैस्। नीचैस्। शनैस्। ऋधक्। ऋते। युगपत्। आरात्। अन्तिकात्। पृथक्। आद्युदात्ताः। ह्यस्। स्वस्। दिवा। रात्रौ। सायम्। चिरम्। मनाक्। ईषत्। शश्वत्। जोषम्। तूष्णीम्। बहिस्। अधस्। अवस्। समया। निकषा। स्वयम्। मृषा। नक्तम्। नञ्। हेतौ। हे। है। इद्धा। अद्धा। सामि। अन्तोदात्ताः। वत्। बत। सनत्। सनात्। तिरस्। आद्युदात्ताः। अन्तरा। अन्तोदात्तः। अन्तरेण। मक्। ज्योक्। योक्। नक्। कम्। शम्। सना। सहसा। श्रद्धा। अलम्। स्वधा। वषट्। विना। माना। स्वस्ति। अन्यत्। अस्ति। उपांशु। क्षमा। विहायसा। दोषा। मृषा। मिथ्या। मुधा। पुरा। मिथो। मिथस्। प्रायस्। मुहुस्। प्रवाहुकम्। प्रवाहिका। आर्यहलम्। अभीक्ष्णम्। साकम्। सार्धम्। नमस्। हिरुक्। धिक्। अथ। अम्। आम्। प्रताम्। प्रशान्। प्रतान्। मा। माङ्। आकृतिगणोऽयम्। हम्। वा। ह। अह। एव। एवम्। नूनम्। शश्वत्। युगपत्। भूयस्। कूपत्। कुवित्। नेत्। चेत्। चण्। कच्चित्। यत्र। नह। हन्त। माकिः। माकिम्। नकिः। नकिम्। माङ्। नञ्। यावत्। तावत्। त्वे। द्वै। त्वै। रै। श्रौषट्। वौषट्। स्वाहा। स्वधा। वषट्। तुम्। तथाहि। खलु। किल। अथो। अथ। सुष्ठु। स्म। आदह। (उपसर्गविभक्तिस्वरप्रतिरूपकाश्च)। अवदत्तम्। अहंयुः। अस्तिक्षीरा। अ। आ। इ। ई। उ। ऊ। ए। ऐ। ओ। औ। पशु। शुकम्। यथाकथाचम्। पाट्। प्याट्। अङ्ग। है। हे। भोः। अये। द्य। विषु। एकपदे। युत्। आतः। चादिरप्याकृतिगणः। तसिलादयःप्राक्पाशपः। शस्प्रभृतयःप्राक्समासान्तेभ्यः। अम्। आम्। कृत्वोर्थाः। तसिवती। नानाञौ। एतदन्तमप्यव्ययम्।

Every item here is not स्वरादि = beginning with a vowel. Here the word स्वरादि is स्वर् + आदि i.e. starting with स्वर् and many others follow. There certainly are in the list, many beginning with a vowel.

In गणपाठ there is also the next list –

चादिः | चादयोऽसत्त्वे (१-४-५७)

च। वा। ह। अह। एव। एवम्। नूनम्। शश्वत्। युगपत्। सूपत्। कूपत्। कुवित्। नेत्। चेत्। चण्। कच्चित्। यत्र। नह। हन्त। माकिम्। नकिम्। माङ्। माङोङकारोविशेषणार्थः, माङिलुङ्इति। इहनभवति, माभवतु, मभविष्यति। नञ्। यावत्। तावत्। त्वा। त्वै। द्वै। रै। श्रौषट्। वौषट्। स्वाहा। वषट्। स्वधा। ओम्। किल। तथा। अथ। सु। स्म। अस्मि। अ। इ। उ। ऋ। ल्। उ। ए। ऐ। ओ। औ। अम्। तक्। उञ्। उकञ्। वेलायाम्। मात्रायाम्। यथा। यत्। यम्। तत्। किम्। पुरा। अद्धा। धिक्। हाहा। हे। है। प्याट्। पाट्। थाट्। अहो। उताहो। हो। तुम्। तथाहि। खलु। आम्। आहो। अथो। ननु। मन्ये। मिथ्या। असि। ब्रूहि। तु। नु। इति। इव। वत्। चन। बत। इह। शम्। कम्। अनुकम्। नहिकम्। हिकम्। सुकम्। सत्यम्। ऋतम्। श्रद्धा। इद्धा। मुधा। नोचेत्। नचेत्। नहि। जातु। कथम्। कुतः। कुत्र। अव। अनु। हाहौ। हैहा। ईहा। आहोस्वित्। छम्बट्। खम्। दिष्ट्या। पशु। वट्। सह। आनुषक्। अङ्ग। फट्। ताजक्। अये। अरे। चटु। बाट्। कुम्। खुम्। घुम्। हुम्। आईम्। शीम्। सीम्। वै।

I am surprised and curious that there are some repeats in the two lists e.g. श्रौषट्। वौषट्। स्वाहा।

Coming back to the theme “What is in a word” and continuing with specific सूत्र-s in अष्टाध्यायी which give some insight into the concept of पद-s, I have been particularly deliberating on

  1. प्रादयः (१.४.५८) prefixes and उपसर्गाः क्रियायोगे (१-४-५९) prefixes as applied to verbal roots
  2. प्रत्ययः (३।१।१) – a suffix morpheme
  3. सुप्तिङन्तं पदम् (१।४।१४) – suffixes to be affixed to
    1. nominal roots to get शब्दरूप-s
    2. verbal roots to get क्रियापद-s
  4. कृदतिङ् (३।१।९३) – suffixes to get verbal derivatives
  5. उपपदमतिङ् (२.२.१९) – a component-word obtained from a verbal root, for use in compound words

Logic for deliberating on these is because these, to my mind, are morphemes, which are defined as – “.. In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest grammatical unit in a language. In other words, it is the smallest meaningful unit of a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. ..”.

From morphological viewpoint, simple answer to the question “What is in a word ?” is, word has morphemes. Above सूत्र-s are worth deliberating upon, because they are related to morphemes – prefixes, suffixes, derivatives, component words.

This deliberation reinforces my contention that in Sanskrit there are चत्वारि वाक्पदानि.

I have linked above with  three phrases “Phonetics and Phonology in Sanskrit”, “morphological viewpoint” and “चत्वारि वाक्पदानि” my related articles. In those articles and this one, I am attempting to develop for myself, some understanding of the concept of speech वाच्, how it gets formed and expressed.  

“What is in a word” is certainly an important aspect of it. By the way, in Sanskrit-English dictionary one meaning of शब्द is “.. A word, sound, significant word ..”. The English meaning “word” is a grammatical term in English grammar. But the word शब्द is not a grammatical term in Sanskrit grammar. The most appropriate term, I contend, is पदम्. In Apte’s Sanskrit-English dictionary among various meanings of this word पदम्  there are two meanings, which are grammatical

  1. A complete or inflected word; सुप्तिडन्तं पदम् P.I. 4.14. वर्णाः पदं प्रयोगार्हानन्वितैकार्थबोधकाः S. D.9; R.8.77; Ku.4.9.
  2. A name for the base of nouns before all consonantal case-terminations except nom. singular.

I am not happy with this. I would rather put पदम् to be every such component of speech, which makes the speech meaningful. This would include the vowel-intonations also and of course, the words. Is this okay ?

शुभमस्तु !

-o-O-o-

 

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