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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Language as a form]


I wanted to address more directly your comments about Babel (which oddly refers to an ancient tower, a building of ancient times) and I'm guessing this has to do with my assertions in a previous post about ancient peoples and the meaning of ancient buildings. Just to be clear: I did not say that Ancient Vedic peoples are the original people. I have no way of asserting that, and I have no intention of doing that. I only mean that Vedic culture is an ancient culture that remains to this day fairly intact. It has undergone changes, and other cultures have influenced it and it has influenced other cultures. Which also means I have no need to discuss this in terms of purity, either.

I don't mean to suggest that there aren't other surviving ancient cultures, I would say Jewish culture is an ancient culture but we came into the conversation with regard to ancient buildings and I was thinking more about ancient buildings and the cultures in which they manifested that are absent to us and how we can't know the purpose of those buildings. We could discuss the ancient buildings of Jewish culture I suppose, but that may become controversial, and I don't want to be controversial, especially because I don't know enough about Ancient Jewish culture and its buildings. There may be others I have not mentioned and I did not mean any slight by not mentioning them. My list was ad hoc, not definitive.

I also never intend to convey that somehow Vedic culture trumps any other culture. Such an assertion would be silly, and furthmore I can't imagine that I could ever think to get away with such a statement in a company of the very intelligent people who frequent this list and who care about understanding culture. There is no one true culture. I only mean that Vedic culture is unusual and singular of today's existing cultures, that it is very old (I believe 7,000 years old) and that it comes to us fairly intact. That was my only point. 

I was surprised to see that the wikipage says it is only 4-5000 years old or so, but I understand that this was when texts were written down. There is evidence that the culture existed as an oral culture before it was the Vedas were written to add an additional 2,000 years to that. I'm not sure where the 2,000 number comes from. Regardless, everything about the structure of the Vedas in terms of rhyming structure and how they are chanted show that it was originally oral. It seems reasonable. Even families were named based upon how many Vedas were memorized and that that is how the Vedas were "stored" in the culture. 

Furthermore, as far as the "myth" of Babel which claims a single language to be the original language, I don't think that I can accept that myth either. If that is in any way a reference to my past comments about Sanskrit, I would like to make clear, there is no way I can make the claim that Sanskrit was the original language. I don't think I can even say that I believe that. I do remember in a linguistics class as an undergrad I was told Sanskrit was the mother of indo-european languages, because of the similarities in sound forms, grammar, and so on. Forgive me if I'm not using the proper linguistic technical terms. It's been a while.

What I find interesting, and I don't know if this is unique to Sanskrit, but the name does not tie to a geographical place. Sanskrit means, "that which is well made." English is tied to England, Spanish to Spain, German to Germany, etc. I suppose there is Yiddish; it doesn't tie to geography. Hebrew does not either. I guess Latin doesn't either. I just thought that was interesting how the name of the language doesn't tie to a location.

The meaning of the word "Sanskrit" intrigues me also in terms of what has been said on this list about language as a tool and also my recent post about a word as a form. One cannot make anything well-made without it having a form of some kind. A form must be present in order to assign it the quality of being well-made. 

I am not well-versed in the language itself, but the contact I have had with Sanskrit has impressed me because of its precision to meaning. So I can attest to this notion of being "well-made." I have been told that learning Sanskrit is good for the mind, but I have no way of explaining why that is or what makes someone say that. There is something delightful about it when the language comes alive, but one could say that about learning any new language. Still, if language helps to shape the mind, perhaps what it means is that something good comes from understanding the language, its structure, its use, and this precision to meaning to which I refer. That there is a clarity it offers. That is just a guess. It certainly is not easy to learn.

Kind regards,