On the Architecture of Pāṇini’s Grammar
The descriptive technique of Pāṇini’s Aṣṭ ādhyā yī has deeply influenced modern linguistic theory and practice. But Pāṇini had no predetermined “theory of grammar”. The rich array of formal devices and categories of his analysis emerge from nothing more than rigorously making it as short as possible. I review the overall organization of his grammar, the types of rules and the categories that they apply to, and the principles which govern their application and interaction in the system. I present in outline Pāṇini’s treatment of the major topics of Sanskrit grammar: syntax, word-formation (primary and secondary derivation, compounding), nominal and verbal inflection, and phonology. The analysis reveals that central aspects of what linguistics ascribes to Universal Grammmar, including levels of representation, thematic roles, and rule ordering, are motivated within the Aṣṭ ādhyā yī merely by the goal of achieving maximum compression. This finding is itself of considerable theoretical interest.
KeywordsPāṇini Sanskrit grammar syntax morphology phonology simplicity thematic roles levels of representation rule ordering
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