Sanskrit language


Sanskrit language
Old Indo-Aryan language, the classical literary language of Hinduism.

The most ancient form is Vedic, attested in its earliest form in parts of the Rig Veda, dating from the late 2nd millennium BC. Late Vedic Sanskrit was described and codified in a grammar by Panini, dating from about the 5th century BC. Literary activity in so-called Classical Sanskrit, in many respects similar to the language described by Panini, flourished с 500 BC–с AD 1000. Today Sanskrit (now usually written in the Devanagari script) serves as a learned language and lingua franca for Brahman scholars. It is an archaic Indo-European language with an elaborate system of nominal and verbal inflection.

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also spelled  Sanscrit 

      (Sanskrit saṃskṛta: “prepared, cultivated, purified, refined”), Old Indo-Aryan language, the classical literary language of the Hindus of India. Vedic Sanskrit, based on a dialect of northwestern India, dates from as early as 1800 BC and appears in the text of the Rigveda; (Rigveda) it was described and standardized in the important grammar book by Pāṇini, dating from about the 5th century BC. Literary activity in so-called Classical Sanskrit, which is close to but not identical with the language described by Pāṇini, flourished from c. 500 BC to AD 1000 and continued even into modern times. Currently, a form of Sanskrit is used not only as a learned medium of communication among Hindu scholars but also as a language for some original writing. The language, written in the Devanāgarī script is, in fact, undergoing something of a revival, though it is neither a widespread nor a usual mother tongue.

      Sanskrit grammar is similar to that of other older Indo-European languages, such as Latin and Greek; it is highly inflected and complex. Sanskrit has three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), three numbers (singular, dual, and plural), and eight cases (nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative, and vocative), although only in the singular of the most common declension does a noun show different forms for each case. Adjectives are inflected to agree with nouns. Verbs are inflected for tense, mode, voice, number, and person.

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Universalium. 2010.

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