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New Archaeology Hype from India

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  • Steve Farmer
    Dear List, Hindu extremists in India and the U.S. have not only ramped up the smear campaign against academics -- the most recent victim is M. Deshpande for
    Message 1 of 24 , Jan 31, 2006
      Dear List,

      Hindu extremists in India and the U.S. have not only ramped up the
      smear campaign against academics -- the most recent victim is M.
      Deshpande for his eloquent letter to the Wall Street Journal -- but
      have also been playing up claims about the discovery of a "New
      Civilization" in ancient India, supposedly dating to ca. 6000 BCE, that
      long antedated Harappan civilization and may have produced the world's
      "First Farmers."

      The idea of a flourishing civilization in northern India thousands of
      years before the Harappans fits in nicely with Hindutva fantasies of
      India as the home of human civilization, reflected in the absurd early
      dates that Hindutva groups have tried to push into California textbooks.

      The upshot is a two-front campaign: (1) try to shut up academics who
      have publicly spoken up on the California issue and (2) to jump on
      every wild claim about ancient "Bharat" that supports their cause.

      Leaving the smear campaign for now -- the Hindutvavadis wouldn't be
      attacking Madhav and other academics if events in California weren't
      working against them -- if you missed the recent claims about India
      producing the "First Farmer", see this story from the Hindustan Times
      from early January, which continues to circulate around the Web; this
      version is a repost from the ubiquitous S. Kalyanaraman (also involved,
      along with Vishal Agarwal and others in the Deshpande smear campaign) ,
      which found its way into the Google soc.culture.british (!) List:

      http://tinyurl.com/dngof

      Another source in case that note disappears:

      http://tinyurl.com/88dvv

      The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is deeply politicized,
      has been pushing this poor story to death. In the third week of January
      the ASI flew in a number of prominent Western archaeologists who
      specialize in ethnobiology to evaluate the finds of this supposedly
      pre-Harappan civilization.

      Interestingly, two of the archaeologists the ASI gave all-expense-trips
      to were collaborators of mine -- the ethnobiologists Dorian Fuller of
      University College London and Steve Weber, of the University of
      Washington at Vancouver. (See the end of the Hindustan Times article,
      where Steve's name and country is misreported.)

      Steve called me last night, right after returning from India, to talk
      about an article that Steve, Dorian, and I have planned on agricultural
      motifs in Indus inscriptions. I was obviously curious about his trip.
      What about the evidence for this vast new civilization in "Bharat" and
      the "First Farmers"?

      Steve laughed, and pointed out that the "First Farmer" claim and
      evidence of a supposed pre-Harappan "civilization" was based on scanty
      remains of crude pottery and a total of five (!) charred grains of
      rice.

      OK: Was the rice wild or domesticated? (It's a reasonable question,
      since Steve is the leading authority on studies of seed remains in
      Harappa, which he has studied for many years. It's impossible to tell,
      Steve pointed out, since the size of these charred seeds falls in a
      range that could be that of wild or cultivated rice. Steve pointed out
      that the skepticism that Dorian expressed in India was even deeper than
      his own.

      Steve also added that the supposedly "deep layers" of this "ancient
      civilization" only lay 45 centimeters below medieval archaeological
      layers.

      Steve and I ended our conversation by discussing how odd it was that so
      many tens of thousands of dollars were spent by the Indian government
      to fly in Western archaeologists for a huge, empty, PR event like this
      -- it was apparently quite a show, with international flags waving
      everywhere -- in a country in which the per capita income was reported
      last June by the Central Statistical Organisation as $285:

      http://www.rediff.com/money/2005/jun/30income.htm

      The ASI's part in this sad act of empty nationalistic archaeology gives
      more poignancy to D.N. Jha's Presidential Address at the Indian History
      Congress on the 28th, warning against further nationalistic propaganda
      in historical research:

      http://www.sacw.net/India_History/dnj_Jan06.pdf

      Best,
      Steve
    • Dean Anderson
      [Mod. note. We cut out the long top-post as accustomed, Dean. Best - Steve.] ... This brings up an important question: what is the appropriate methodology for
      Message 2 of 24 , Feb 2, 2006
        [Mod. note. We cut out the long top-post as accustomed, Dean. Best - Steve.]

        --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, Steve Farmer <saf@...>
        wrote:

        >The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),
        > which is deeply politicized, has been pushing
        > this poor story to death. In the third
        >week of January the ASI flew in a number
        > of prominent Western archaeologists who
        > specialize in ethnobiology to evaluate the finds
        >of this supposedly >pre-Harappan civilization.
        ....
        >Steve [Weber] laughed, and pointed out that the "
        > First Farmer" claim and evidence of a supposed
        > pre-Harappan "civilization" was based on scanty
        > remains of crude pottery and a total
        >of five (!) charred grains of rice.


        This brings up an important question: what is the appropriate
        methodology for verifying such claims where the archaeological finds
        become fodder for highly politicized agendas from all sides and where
        hype, distortions and even outright fraud are not unheard of?

        The example cited by Steve is unfortunate in that the evidence was so
        scanty and of questionable stratigraphy. But suppose one were to
        discover something unique and important? How could one validate it in
        this contentious climate?

        Take, for example, a hypothetical find of an early species of human,
        which are usually one of a kind and fragmentary. You are not likely
        to discover another one. Yet you are also not likely to have a team
        of international experts on hand at the time of the discovery. You
        could hardly rebury it and invite the team of experts to come and
        re-excavate it for themselves!

        Given a scarcity of vetted foreign experts laying around, it is
        likely that most important discoveries will be made by native
        archaeologists who could be accused of nationalist bias. Are the
        finds of early humans more trustworthy because they were made by
        those of European descent instead of native Africans?

        This is a serious issue that has surfaced on this list more than
        once, regarding, for example, Iran and India (and, in fact,
        nationalist archaeology has been found in almost every country).

        Field researchers and those who sponsor such research should ask:
        what precautions could be taken ahead of time to attempt to deal with
        this? And what should be done after the fact to facilitate the
        validation of the discovery?

        Best regards,

        Dean

        Dr. Dean Anderson
        Director
        East West Cultural Institute
      • Rajesh Kochhar
        This is an important issue. In the context of the stem cell research fraud in South Korea, I read a perceptive observation. In this age of ever new versions of
        Message 3 of 24 , Feb 2, 2006
          This is an important issue. In the context of the stem cell research
          fraud in South Korea, I read a perceptive observation. In this age of
          ever new versions of Windows or new cars, in intellectual fields
          also there is a desire to hit banner headlines.

          Of course in the long run, frauds die out. But we are living in an
          era of very short time scales. Also, checks and balances work out in the club run by the scientists. There are many area of research, such as archaeology , which are under the State.

          Can these questions be discussed say under the umbrella of UNESCO , and a protocol devised?


          Prof Rajesh Kochhar
          Former Director :NISTADS , New Delhi 110012
          ph: +91-11-25846967 , 2584 1384 x322/ fax:25846640
          alternative email: rkk@... website http://nistads.res.in








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        • Michael Witzel
          ... Simple answer: don t go to the press immediately after discovery. They ALWAYS get it wrong, even if you talk to them for hours, giving them some basic
          Message 4 of 24 , Feb 2, 2006
            Dean Asks:

            > Field researchers and those who sponsor such research should ask:
            > what precautions could be taken ahead of time to attempt to deal with
            > this? And what should be done after the fact to facilitate the
            > validation of the discovery?

            Simple answer: don't go to the press immediately after discovery.

            They ALWAYS get it wrong, even if you talk to them for hours, giving
            them some basic education and scientific background of the matter at
            hand --see recent California examples-- and, they hype it. Plus, invent
            a few quotes to spice things up. Steve can tell you all about it (Indus
            signs paper). Then, these quotes take on a life of their own.

            (Not the topic here, but the same is seen in emails & blogs: a trail of
            misquotes & deception, which soon become the TRUTH. Oldest politician's
            trick in the book. But, surely interesting for philologists who are
            trained to pay attention to minute details: a pedigree, a stemma of
            lies...)

            Apart from that, I think the original question was not phrased quite
            correctly: it is not a question of local vs. foreign archeologists,
            but one of careful excavation, detailed PUBLICATION (still quite rare
            and often decades after the fact; BB Lal is a 'shining' example of
            this).

            Publication is necessary for countercheck by colleagues. Plus, careful
            presentation at conferences etc. Your colleagues always are the best
            for informed countercheck and criticism, not reporters or internet
            bloggies.

            In any case, don't just *talk* to reporters: prepare and hand them a
            press release.

            Cheers, Michael

            On Feb 2, 2006, at 6:43 AM, Dean Anderson wrote:

            > STEVE:
            >> The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),
            >> which is deeply politicized, has been pushing
            >> this poor story to death. In the third
            >> week of January the ASI flew in a number
            >> of prominent Western archaeologists who
            >> specialize in ethnobiology to evaluate the finds
            >> of this supposedly >pre-Harappan civilization.
            >
            DEAN:
            > Given a scarcity of vetted foreign experts laying around, it is
            > likely that most important discoveries will be made by native
            > archaeologists who could be accused of nationalist bias. Are the
            > finds of early humans more trustworthy because they were made by
            > those of European descent instead of native Africans?
            > ...
            > Field researchers and those who sponsor such research should ask:
            > what precautions could be taken ahead of time to attempt to deal with
            > this? And what should be done after the fact to facilitate the
            > validation of the discovery?
            >
            >
            >
            ________________________________________________________
            If you give me six lines written by the hand
            of the most honest of men, I will find something
            in them which will hang him.

            (Qu'on me donne six lignes écrites de la main
            du plus honnête homme, j'y trouverai de quoi
            le faire pendre.)
            Cardinal Richelieu, Minister of Louis XIII
            (Quoted: January 1641, in "Mirame")
            ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            ---------------------------
            Michael Witzel
            Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
            1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
            1-617-495 3295 Fax: 496 8571
            direct line: 496 2990
            <http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
            <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/>


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Katherine Reece
            Simple answer: don t go to the press immediately after discovery. They ALWAYS get it wrong, even if you talk to them for hours, giving them some basic
            Message 5 of 24 , Feb 2, 2006
              Simple answer: don't go to the press immediately after discovery.

              They ALWAYS get it wrong, even if you talk to them for hours, giving
              them some basic education and scientific background of the matter at
              hand --see recent California examples-- and, they hype it. Plus, invent
              a few quotes to spice things up. Steve can tell you all about it (Indus
              signs paper). Then, these quotes take on a life of their own.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              If I may add a glaring example of this from Dr. Kent Weeks' book The Lost
              Tomb where he writes about speaking to a reporter about his rediscovery of
              Tomb KV5 in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. While discussing the tomb,
              Weeks mentioned that its pillared hall was one of the largest ever found.
              The reporter asked Weeks if he found any colored balls. For obvious reasons
              Weeks was confused. The reporter then asked if billiard halls were common in
              ancient Egypt. Weeks tried to correct the reporter who commented: 'Billiard
              hall? Pillared hall? What difference does it make? Who cares? Besides, it
              makes a better story'.

              Kat Reece
              Owner / Head Moderator
              In the Hall of Ma'at
              http://www.hallofmaat.com
              Amun Owner / Moderator
              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amun
              Kat's Personal Page
              http://www.katherinereece.com/
            • Steve Farmer
              Michael writes (on the accelerating stream of nationalistic ... All true, but going a bit deeper: dreadful though the reporting is, one of the problems is that
              Message 6 of 24 , Feb 2, 2006
                Michael writes (on the accelerating stream of nationalistic
                archaeological hype):

                > Publication is necessary for countercheck by colleagues. Plus, careful
                > presentation at conferences etc. Your colleagues always are the best
                > for informed countercheck and criticism, not reporters or internet
                > bloggies.
                >
                > In any case, don't just *talk* to reporters: prepare and hand them a
                > press release.

                All true, but going a bit deeper: dreadful though the reporting is, one
                of the problems is that lots of the hype originates from archaeologists
                handing out press releases to promote their work. The upshot is that
                the ethical problems start at least one layer deeper.

                This is the case in the present Lahuradeva claims (which R. Tawari and
                the ASI have hyped to death, even paying to fly Steve Weber and Dorian
                Fuller and Toshiki Osada and Peter Bellwood, etc., in to see it in an
                expensive PR gig) and of course in the equally hyped Jiroft claims that
                Majidzadeh has pushed relentlessly in the press.

                Still another ethical problem lies in the fact that a lot oif
                archaeologists who know better rarely say anything publicly about these
                sorts of things since they are afraid of getting cut out of the future
                action. This has clearly been the case in respect to the Jiroft finds
                and much of ASI supported work.

                Who talks about this problem on our List? Not the archaeologists,
                although they certainly talk about in plenty when in private. And it is
                difficult to blame them entirely, since they depend on nationalistic
                government agencies to give them access to sites. The few rebels like
                Oscar White Muscarella who speak up no matter what more often than not
                end up paying a heavy price.

                Hence much of the vetting has to come from outside the field, I think
                -- sometimes using data leaked by skeptical but cautious
                archaeologists, as has often happened on this List. Rajesh's suggestion
                that something more formally be done under the umbrella of an
                international organization like UNESCO is an interesting one.
                Certainly, as D.N. Jha's Presidential Address at the Indian History
                Congress last week indicated, recognition of these problems -- which
                have dire effects not only on scholarship but on domestic and
                international politics as well -- is expanding.

                Steve
              • atman@vedavid.org
                Hey folks- Perhaps this gets asked too many times, but I checked my archives and didn t find anything ... I have a friend who wanted to know the best
                Message 7 of 24 , Feb 3, 2006
                  Hey folks-

                  Perhaps this gets asked too many times, but I checked my archives and
                  didn't find anything ...

                  I have a friend who wanted to know the best self-starter texts for the
                  complete novice to begin learning Sanskrit and Tibetan.

                  many kind thanks in advance for your replies.

                  jr
                • Lars Martin Fosse
                  ... complete novice to begin learning Sanskrit and Tibetan. As for Sanskrit: Much depends upon how much time you friend has, and what he knows in advance. In
                  Message 8 of 24 , Feb 3, 2006
                    >I have a friend who wanted to know the best self-starter texts for the
                    complete novice to begin learning Sanskrit and Tibetan.

                    As for Sanskrit:

                    Much depends upon how much time you friend has, and what he knows in
                    advance. In Oslo, we use Gonda's introduction to Sanskrit the first
                    semester. It is tough if you are completely without grammatical knowledge,
                    but it gets the job done, and it is a quick intro.

                    A more sumptuous solution is Maurer's, from a pedagogical point of view
                    perhaps the best on the market. But it will take some time to complete. If
                    your friend plans to study on his own and doesn't have a time limit, I would
                    recommend Maurer.

                    Then there is Coulson's Teach Yourself Sanskrit, which I believe has a good
                    reputation, although I haven't used it myself. There are several others,
                    but I only know about them from hearsay.

                    So:

                    1. Jan Gonda: A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language: With
                    Exercises, Reading Selections, And a Glossary. Univ of Alabama Press, 2006.


                    2. Walter Maurer: The Sanskrit Language: An Introductory Grammar and Reader
                    . RoutledgeCurzon.

                    Notice that there is a price difference: Maurer: 70 british pounds. Gonda:
                    not a lot.

                    3. Coulson: Teach Yourself Sanskrit. Not too pricey.

                    The Tibetan I'll leave to others.

                    All the best,

                    Lars Martin


                    From:
                    Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
                    Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
                    0674 Oslo - Norway
                    Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax: +47 850 21 250
                    Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45
                    E-mail: lmfosse@...
                    http://www.linguistfinder.com/translators.asp?id=2164





                    _____

                    Fra: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
                    [mailto:Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com] På vegne av
                    atman@...
                    Sendt: 3. februar 2006 19:35
                    Til: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
                    Emne: [Indo-Eurasia] Learning Sanskrit (again?)



                    Hey folks-

                    Perhaps this gets asked too many times, but I checked my archives and
                    didn't find anything ...

                    I have a friend who wanted to know the best self-starter texts for the
                    complete novice to begin learning Sanskrit and Tibetan.

                    many kind thanks in advance for your replies.

                    jr




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                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Richard MAHONEY
                    ... [snip] ... Your friend would do well to consult the following: Lehrbuch der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache / von Michael Hahn. Hahn, Michael.
                    Message 9 of 24 , Feb 3, 2006
                      On Sat, 2006-02-04 at 10:18, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:
                      > >I have a friend who wanted to know the best self-starter texts for the
                      > complete novice to begin learning Sanskrit and Tibetan.
                      >
                      > As for Sanskrit:

                      [snip]

                      > 1. Jan Gonda: A Concise Elementary Grammar of the Sanskrit Language: With
                      > Exercises, Reading Selections, And a Glossary. Univ of Alabama Press, 2006.
                      >
                      >
                      > 2. Walter Maurer: The Sanskrit Language: An Introductory Grammar and Reader
                      > . RoutledgeCurzon.
                      >
                      > Notice that there is a price difference: Maurer: 70 british pounds. Gonda:
                      > not a lot.
                      >
                      > 3. Coulson: Teach Yourself Sanskrit. Not too pricey.
                      >
                      > The Tibetan I'll leave to others.

                      Your friend would do well to consult the following:

                      Lehrbuch der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache /
                      von Michael Hahn.
                      Hahn, Michael.
                      Swisttal-Odendorf :
                      Indica et Tibetica Verlag,
                      1994.

                      Further details available here:

                      http://tinyurl.com/br7us

                      v. also:

                      http://www.iet-verlag.de/


                      I've a typescript of Pagel's English trans. of the above before me. I
                      believe this has now been published by Hahn, though I've not seen this
                      final version. Definitely worth trying to track down.


                      Best,

                      Richard


                      --
                      Richard MAHONEY | internet: http://indica-et-buddhica.org
                      Littledene | telephone/telefax (man.): ++64 3 312 1699
                      Bay Road | cellular: ++64 27 482 9986
                      OXFORD, NZ | e-mail: r.mahoney[use"@"]iconz.co.nz
                    • Lars Martin Fosse
                      ... von Michael Hahn. Richard, I have Michael Hahn s book in my library, but I have one problem with it: the Tibetan print is a bit on the tiny size. This may,
                      Message 10 of 24 , Feb 4, 2006
                        Richard Mahoney wrote:

                        >Your friend would do well to consult the following:

                        >Lehrbuch der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache /
                        von Michael Hahn.

                        Richard, I have Michael Hahn's book in my library, but I have one problem
                        with it: the Tibetan print is a bit on the tiny size. This may, of course,
                        only be a personal problem for me, otherwise the books would seem excellent
                        in every other respect. I never got around to learning Tibetan so far, but I
                        did at least buy the books. So for those who struggle with small print, here
                        are a couple of other titles:

                        Khenpo Tshultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche / Albrecht Frasch: Lehrebuch der
                        tibetischen Umgangs- und Schriftsprache. Berlin, 1999.

                        I find the Tibetan print in this book easier to read, and for anyone
                        struggling to learn the writing system, this might be better to start with.

                        Then there is:

                        Andrew Bloomfield and Yanki Tshering
                        Learning Practical Tibetan. New York, 1998.

                        Here Tibetan words are given with a transcription. It may also be useful to
                        have. But again: I never learnt any Tibetan, so this advice is given with
                        reservations.

                        Lars Martin



                        From:
                        Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
                        Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
                        0674 Oslo - Norway
                        Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax: +47 850 21 250
                        Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45
                        E-mail: lmfosse@...
                        http://www.linguistfinder.com/translators.asp?id=!64
                      • lighthisertim
                        ... I have a friend who wanted to know the best self-starter texts for the ... Hi, Sanskrit: an Easy Introduction to an Enchanting Language. Richmond:
                        Message 11 of 24 , Feb 5, 2006
                          --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, atman@... wrote:
                          I have a friend who wanted to know the best self-starter texts for the
                          > complete novice to begin learning Sanskrit and Tibetan.


                          Hi,

                          Sanskrit: an Easy Introduction to an Enchanting Language. Richmond:
                          Svadhyaya Publications by Dr. Ashok Aklujkar
                          (<http://www.asia.ubc.ca/index.php?id=5042>)


                          Sanskrit Language Texts A list of the best books for learning
                          Sanskrit.
                          (<http://www.realization.org/page/doc0/doc0078.htm>).

                          hth,

                          Tim Lighthiser
                        • Allen W Thrasher
                          In Oslo, we use Gonda s introduction to Sanskrit the first semester. It is tough if you are completely without grammatical knowledge, but it gets the job
                          Message 12 of 24 , Feb 6, 2006
                            " In Oslo, we use Gonda's introduction to Sanskrit the first
                            semester. It is tough if you are completely without grammatical knowledge,
                            but it gets the job done, and it is a quick intro."

                            Are Norwegian students getting to university without knowing grammar, or at least the terms of grammar in Norwegian and other languages?

                            I remember was back in 1973, about half-way through my first quarter teaching Sanskrit at the University of Washington in Seattle, I discovered I had been using the basic terms of grammar (parts of speech, cases, the types of sentences, etc.) and my students, although they all spoke and wrote Standard English fine, were totally unacquainted with them. I wrote home for my old pre-college textbooks and prepared mimeographed handouts of rough and ready definitions taken from them ("A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing"), without worrying whether they would satisfy contemporary linguists. I was I confess rather shocked.

                            I would think that nowadays with an immeasurably greater percentage of kids in school for whom English, let alone standard English, is not their mother tongue, drilled formal grammar would be even more desirable, but I suspect the educationist establishment doesn't think so.

                            Allen



                            Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D., Senior Reference Librarian
                            South Asia Team, Asian Division
                            Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
                            101 Independence Ave., S.E.
                            Washington, DC 20540-4810
                            tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr@...
                            The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.
                          • Lars Martin Fosse
                            You are entirely right! They know less and less grammar. So now we have to supply them with quick-intros to school grammar, which they then don t read. I had 8
                            Message 13 of 24 , Feb 6, 2006
                              You are entirely right! They know less and less grammar. So now we have to
                              supply them with quick-intros to school grammar, which they then don't read.
                              I had 8 students for beginner's Sanskrit this autumn. Three left after two
                              weeks, one only sat there and listened, two gave up, one flunked his second
                              test and couldn't do the examination, and one finished. He already knew
                              Latin, was extremely bright and did his Sanskrit as a left-hand exercise
                              while doing more demanding stuff. Another super-bright student was not
                              allowed to do the course for bureaucratic reasons. So I was stuck with the
                              grammatically challenged.

                              The school system is a catastrophy in this respect. Grammars are written,
                              but only introduced at university level, if at all.

                              Lars Martin

                              From:
                              Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
                              Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
                              0674 Oslo - Norway
                              Phone: +47 22 32 12 19 Fax: +47 850 21 250
                              Mobile phone: +47 90 91 91 45
                              E-mail: lmfosse@...
                              http://www.linguistfinder.com/translators.asp?id=2164




                              _____

                              Fra: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
                              [mailto:Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com] På vegne av Allen W Thrasher
                              Sendt: 6. februar 2006 18:51
                              Til: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
                              Emne: [Indo-Eurasia] Learning Sanskrit (again?)


                              " In Oslo, we use Gonda's introduction to Sanskrit the first
                              semester. It is tough if you are completely without grammatical knowledge,
                              but it gets the job done, and it is a quick intro."

                              Are Norwegian students getting to university without knowing grammar, or at
                              least the terms of grammar in Norwegian and other languages?

                              I remember was back in 1973, about half-way through my first quarter
                              teaching Sanskrit at the University of Washington in Seattle, I discovered I
                              had been using the basic terms of grammar (parts of speech, cases, the types
                              of sentences, etc.) and my students, although they all spoke and wrote
                              Standard English fine, were totally unacquainted with them. I wrote home
                              for my old pre-college textbooks and prepared mimeographed handouts of rough
                              and ready definitions taken from them ("A noun is the name of a person,
                              place, or thing"), without worrying whether they would satisfy contemporary
                              linguists. I was I confess rather shocked.

                              I would think that nowadays with an immeasurably greater percentage of kids
                              in school for whom English, let alone standard English, is not their mother
                              tongue, drilled formal grammar would be even more desirable, but I suspect
                              the educationist establishment doesn't think so.

                              Allen



                              Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D., Senior Reference Librarian
                              South Asia Team, Asian Division
                              Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
                              101 Independence Ave., S.E.
                              Washington, DC 20540-4810
                              tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr@...
                              The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of
                              Congress.






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                              an+study&w3=Kyoto+japan&w4=Culture&w5=United+states&c=5&s=86&.sig=JpdqbDeQ57
                              CdFV87HNusrg> europe Asian
                              <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=Asian+study&w1=Western+europe&w2=Asian+
                              study&w3=Kyoto+japan&w4=Culture&w5=United+states&c=5&s=86&.sig=tVkZ_EZxWiWQj
                              S6KT6bKWw> study Kyoto
                              <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=Kyoto+japan&w1=Western+europe&w2=Asian+
                              study&w3=Kyoto+japan&w4=Culture&w5=United+states&c=5&s=86&.sig=x-_hn4V1ReY26
                              V-v4-PWMA> japan
                              Culture
                              <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=Culture&w1=Western+europe&w2=Asian+stud
                              y&w3=Kyoto+japan&w4=Culture&w5=United+states&c=5&s=86&.sig=pul1B3MDvOiPkqk5D
                              yUtAw> United
                              <http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?t=ms&k=United+states&w1=Western+europe&w2=Asia
                              n+study&w3=Kyoto+japan&w4=Culture&w5=United+states&c=5&s=86&.sig=GEummAd_aSe
                              UgkYa8XvJWQ> states

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                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Miska Pruszowska
                              Sadly, it is exactly the same in The Netherlands (and probably in a few other countries around the world). From among eight of my students (beginners Sasnkrit)
                              Message 14 of 24 , Feb 7, 2006
                                Sadly, it is exactly the same in The Netherlands (and
                                probably in a few other countries around the world).
                                From among eight of my students (beginners Sasnkrit)
                                two knew the basic grammatical terms such as
                                adjective, noun etc. Somehow the knowledge of grammar
                                is not considered important nowadays...

                                Anna Slaczka.

                                --- Lars Martin Fosse <lmfosse@...> wrote:

                                > You are entirely right! They know less and less
                                > grammar. So now we have to
                                > supply them with quick-intros to school grammar,
                                > which they then don't read.
                                > I had 8 students for beginner's Sanskrit this
                                > autumn. Three left after two
                                > weeks, one only sat there and listened, two gave up,
                                > one flunked his second
                                > test and couldn't do the examination, and one
                                > finished. He already knew
                                > Latin, was extremely bright and did his Sanskrit as
                                > a left-hand exercise
                                > while doing more demanding stuff. Another
                                > super-bright student was not
                                > allowed to do the course for bureaucratic reasons.
                                > So I was stuck with the
                                > grammatically challenged.
                                >
                                > The school system is a catastrophy in this respect.
                                > Grammars are written,
                                > but only introduced at university level, if at all.
                                >
                                > Lars Martin
                                >
                              • Alex Passi
                                Dear List Members, I must admit that I have been having the same problem for some time -- which, in a country where at least two Ministry high-school education
                                Message 15 of 24 , Feb 7, 2006
                                  Dear List Members,
                                  I must admit that I have been having the same problem for some time
                                  -- which, in a country where at least two Ministry high-school
                                  education programs have mandatory Latin for 5 years, and one of these
                                  also has mandatory 5 yr. Greek, is especially troubling.
                                  With this now very dwindling minority, teaching Sanskrit grammar has
                                  always been a breeze. With the others (whose foreign language
                                  experience usually does not reach beyond badly taught English), one
                                  goes through the whole year and then discovers that very little has
                                  'really' been assimilated. I've tried recourse to standard junior
                                  high school Italian syntax texts, with practically no results.
                                  But my question is this: does any list member working in Europe have
                                  the feeling that things have gotten worse in very recent times, say,
                                  three-four years? My experience leads me to believe so for the
                                  Italian situation, and I wonder if this is part of a wider trend, or
                                  just the result of the ripening of bad Ministry of Education-
                                  generated karma in this country alone.

                                  Alex Passi


                                  Alex (Alessandro) Passi,
                                  Department of Linguistic and Oriental Studies
                                  University of Bologna,
                                  Via Zamboni 16
                                  Bologna, 40126, Italy.

                                  a.passi@...
                                  alexpassi@...
                                  phone +39-338.269.4933
                                  fax +39-059-975.0280
                                • Dean Anderson
                                  I don t think anyone has mentioned this series yet which people say is very helpful in getting up to speed on the basics. For someone without solid language
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Feb 7, 2006
                                    I don't think anyone has mentioned this series yet which people say is
                                    very helpful in getting up to speed on the basics. For someone without
                                    solid language training, Sanskrit can be very daunting.

                                    Egenes' books make those crucial early days much less painful.

                                    Introduction to Sanskrit, Part 1, 2, workbook
                                    by Thomas Egenes

                                    Best,

                                    Dean Anderson
                                  • lmfosse@chello.no
                                    Alex asked: is this part of a wider trend? Talking to an older colleague here the other day, I got the following report: Before 1973, everything was wonderful,
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Feb 7, 2006
                                      Alex asked: is this part of a wider trend?

                                      Talking to an older colleague here the other day, I got the following report: Before 1973, everything was wonderful, from 1973 till 1993 the situation deteriorated steadily, after 1993 it went into a steep dive. The school system, which has to accommodate all sorts of students to keep them out of the unemployment statitstics, has systematically removed all subjects that could produce "loosers". In addition to that, far too many people are accepted by the universities for the same reason: to keep them out of the unemployment stats. In the good old days, most of these students would have received vocational training, but that is too expensive these days.

                                      Lars Martin


                                      >
                                      > fra: Alex Passi <a.passi@...>
                                      > dato: 2006/02/07 ti AM 10:45:53 MET
                                      > til: Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
                                      > emne: Re: SV: [Indo-Eurasia] Learning Sanskrit (again?)
                                      >
                                      >
                                    • Alex Passi
                                      Sounds familiar. 6 years ago a sweeping reform transformed all the undergradutate BA courses (4 years) into three years lower level degrees, followed by 2
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Feb 8, 2006
                                        Sounds familiar. 6 years ago a sweeping reform transformed all the
                                        undergradutate BA courses (4 years) into three years lower level
                                        degrees, followed by 2 years higher level degrees. One would think
                                        that, in 5 years, students would have access to more class-hours than
                                        under the previous system, but, as all courses now have a 60-hr.
                                        yearly maximum, it doesn't work that way. People are paying more for
                                        their university courses, and attending - on average - less classes
                                        in 5 yrs. than they used to attend in the 4-yr. system.
                                        But at times I wonder if it's just a scholastic problem or if it
                                        isn't part of a more general malaise with reference to learning.

                                        Alex

                                        On 07/02/2006, at 6:43 PM, <lmfosse@...> wrote:

                                        Alex asked: is this part of a wider trend?

                                        Talking to an older colleague here the other day, I got the following
                                        report: Before 1973, everything was wonderful, from 1973 till 1993
                                        the situation deteriorated steadily, after 1993 it went into a steep
                                        dive. The school system, which has to accommodate all sorts of
                                        students to keep them out of the unemployment statitstics, has
                                        systematically removed all subjects that could produce "loosers". In
                                        addition to that, far too many people are accepted by the
                                        universities for the same reason: to keep them out of the
                                        unemployment stats. In the good old days, most of these students
                                        would have received vocational training, but that is too expensive
                                        these days.

                                        ------

                                        Alex (Alessandro) Passi,
                                        Department of Linguistic and Oriental Studies
                                        University of Bologna,
                                        Via Zamboni 16
                                        Bologna, 40126, Italy.

                                        a.passi@...
                                        alexpassi@...
                                        phone +39-338.269.4933
                                        fax +39-059-975.0280
                                      • Michael Landau
                                        mikelande3@yahoo.ca a écrit : May I add just a small notice on this subject? I m merely a student doing a Master degree in Indology @ UCL (Belgium), and
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Feb 8, 2006
                                          mikelande3@... a écrit : May I add just a small notice on this subject?

                                          I'm merely a student doing a Master degree in Indology @ UCL (Belgium), and have no experience whatsoever in teaching.

                                          1. Nonetheless, as I followed all my school years in France, I can assure you of one thing: nobody ( or almost) will graduate from high school without knowing what's a noun, adjective, etc... I think you have to make a difference between what's taught to pupils in school and the true definition and meaning of grammatical words, which is then taught in university. Until I followed French classes in Nice University (France) as a part of the Classical Philology major, I couldn't tell for instance, the exact grammatical definition of direct object, even though I knew what kind of signification it had in a sentence, and what was the function in that sentence.
                                          2. It's also a fact that to do a Master in Indology @ UCL, one of the prerequisites was to have followed at least a Latin course (if not Greek), which proved indeed very useful. Most of the people doing a Master in Oriental Philology, did one in Classical Philology (that says it all doesn't it?).
                                          3. Most of the students in Sanskrit can take the language course without being into a degree in Oriental Philology, which means they come from other fields, where they hardly ever talk about grammar, ( imagine than for Sanskrit, which is one of the most complicated in the world), and the last time they heard about it was in their last year in junior high. Those people probably never heard about accusative or dative (as a grammatical term) not to talk about aorist, or precative for example (I have even problems myself understanding the later one after 3 years of Sanskrit!).
                                          4. Conclusion: it might be useful for Sanskrit teachers to emphasize simple grammatical points, that might have been forgotten not assuming that people never knew them, or on the contrary assuming everybody knows them. I'm not a good example, but I sometimes help foreign students, and people in other majors then philology with their work. And once you tell them with some examples(even if it's not the exact truth), that an Accusative is the Direct Object, or a Dative is the Indirect Object, it helps them to catch it a lot quicker, and I believe most of university students are still familiar with basics in grammar, even though it needs a little refreshing.
                                          So let's not overdramatize, moreover the trends in studies are more oriented towards science, technology, and economy, even from primary school, than towards language, let's face it. This probably means new ways of teaching and learning languages too. But you probably all have way more experience than I do in this respect.

                                          Best regards,

                                          Michael Landau


                                          You are entirely right! They know less and less grammar. So now we have to
                                          supply them with quick-intros to school grammar, which they then don't read.
                                          ...
                                          So I was stuck with the
                                          grammatically challenged.

                                          The school system is a catastrophy in this respect. Grammars are written,
                                          but only introduced at university level, if at all.
                                        • Victor Mair
                                          Dear All, There is an interesting book called __The Man Shu (Book of the Southern Barbarians )__ by a Tang writer named Fan Chuo. It was published at the
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Feb 8, 2006
                                            Dear All,

                                            There is an interesting book called __The Man Shu (Book of the Southern
                                            "Barbarians")__ by a Tang writer named Fan Chuo. It was published at
                                            the beginning of the Xiantong reign period (860-873). Gordon H. Luce
                                            produced an English translation of __The Man Shu__ that was edited by G.
                                            P. Oey as Data Paper Number 44 for the Southeast Asia Program,
                                            Department of Far Eastern Studies (Cornell University) in December,
                                            1961. The translation is generally reliable, but unfortunately lacks
                                            modern, Sinologically rigorous annotations.

                                            The reason I am calling this book to your attention is that it describes
                                            in considerable detail different aspects of the peoples of eastern,
                                            southern, and western Yunnan during the mid-9th century (essentially the
                                            kingdom of Nan Zhao) up to the Burmese border. Of particular interest
                                            to me (and perhaps also to you) is the description of things that show a
                                            clear connection with peoples from the far northwest: greaves (and
                                            other armor), felt (for hats! -- in the subtropics!), horses (the
                                            attention paid to horses [far from their natural habitat here] is one of
                                            the most conspicuous features of the book), women warriors, musicians
                                            (some specifically noted as coming from Kucha in the Tarim Basin!),
                                            burial customs, and so forth. In places, it particularly mentions HU2
                                            monks from Central Asia, Persia, India, and so forth.

                                            Of course, many of these Central Asian aspects of society and culture in
                                            Yunnan were already evident in the Dian kingdom (Warring States and Han
                                            times) and earlier -- especially well-known from archeological evidence.
                                            But it is good to have a textual account as well -- even though it is
                                            relatively late, because it gives names and a fair amount of linguistic
                                            data, albeit mostly of a rather crude and garbled nature.

                                            Since the Scythians, Hephthalites, Mongols, and other steppe peoples
                                            encroached upon South Asia at various times, there may be parallels
                                            worth considering for Indian history as well.

                                            Best,

                                            Victor
                                          • worlduninews
                                            The problem is that Fan Chuo didn t know the local languages. We see this same problem with the much later, travelogue of Xu Xiake s who s given name was
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Feb 8, 2006
                                              The problem is that Fan Chuo didn't know the local languages. We see
                                              this same problem with the much later, travelogue of Xu Xiake's who's
                                              given name was Hongzu, born in jiangyin county.

                                              Xu's highly personal prose style in fact gives the reader the vivid
                                              impression of walking alongside Xu as he travels the roads and trails of
                                              southwest China. Travelling to the Yunnan border, he offered very little
                                              information about the non-Han peoples of Guizhou. Because Xu's focus
                                              thus is intently on the physical geography and not the human
                                              landscape, the Southwest appears at times to be uninhabited and
                                              unpossessed�
                                              E.P.Wijnants
                                              http://sociologyesoscience.com

                                              --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, Victor Mair
                                              <vmair@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > Dear All,
                                              >
                                              > There is an interesting book called __The Man Shu (Book of the
                                              Southern
                                              > "Barbarians")__ by a Tang writer named Fan Chuo. It was published
                                              at
                                              > the beginning of the Xiantong reign period (860-873). Gordon H. Luce
                                              > produced an English translation of __The Man Shu__ that was edited
                                              by G.
                                              > P. Oey as Data Paper Number 44 for the Southeast Asia Program,
                                              > Department of Far Eastern Studies (Cornell University) in December,
                                              > 1961. The translation is generally reliable, but unfortunately lacks
                                              > modern, Sinologically rigorous annotations.
                                              >
                                              > The reason I am calling this book to your attention is that it describes
                                              > in considerable detail different aspects of the peoples of eastern,
                                              > southern, and western Yunnan during the mid-9th century (essentially
                                              the
                                              > kingdom of Nan Zhao) up to the Burmese border.
                                            • James Ward
                                              Hi Victor, Thank you for this very interesting reference. It does indeed seem that there was a southern branch of the trade routes from the west that possibly
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Feb 9, 2006
                                                Hi Victor,

                                                Thank you for this very interesting reference. It does indeed seem
                                                that there was a southern branch of the trade routes from the west that
                                                possibly bypassed Gansu. There was apparently a Sogdian community in
                                                Chengdu, and a hu caravan was captured by the Chinese in Qinghai in the
                                                6th century.

                                                Best,

                                                James Ward


                                                Victor Mair wrote:

                                                > Of particular interest to me (and perhaps also to you) is the
                                                > description of things that show a clear connection with peoples from
                                                > the far northwest:  greaves (and other armor), felt (for hats! -- in
                                                > the subtropics!), horses (the attention paid to horses [far from their
                                                > natural habitat here] is one of the most conspicuous features of the
                                                > book), women warriors, musicians (some specifically noted as coming
                                                > from Kucha in the Tarim Basin!), burial customs, and so forth.  In
                                                > places, it particularly mentions HU2 monks from Central Asia, Persia,
                                                > India, and so forth.
                                              • Victor Mair
                                                Thanks for your comments, James. The HU2 who were the Sogdians were all over the place during this period. AN Lushan (Roxan the Arsacid [that s more or less
                                                Message 23 of 24 , Feb 9, 2006
                                                  Thanks for your comments, James. The HU2 who were the Sogdians were all
                                                  over the place during this period. AN Lushan (Roxan the Arsacid [that's
                                                  more or less what the transcriptional Chinese name means]), who led the
                                                  rebellion that led to the eventual fall of the Tang Dynasty, was born of
                                                  Turco-Sogdian parentage in a Sogdian trading colony in Manchuria. I was
                                                  not previously aware of Sogdians being in Chengdu, but it doesn't
                                                  surprise me one bit.

                                                  There has been a lot of good research done on the routes that led from
                                                  the Gansu-Qinghai region all the way down to Yunnan, and -- of course --
                                                  they passed through Sichuan.

                                                  Dunhuang (at the end of the Gansu Corridor), the jumping-off place for
                                                  the northern and southern branches of the Silk Road as it skirted the
                                                  Tarim Basin, was closely linked (culturally and economically) to Sichuan
                                                  during the Tang.

                                                  Best,

                                                  Victor



                                                  James Ward wrote:

                                                  > Hi Victor,
                                                  >
                                                  > Thank you for this very interesting reference. It does indeed seem
                                                  > that there was a southern branch of the trade routes from the west that
                                                  > possibly bypassed Gansu. There was apparently a Sogdian community in
                                                  > Chengdu, and a hu caravan was captured by the Chinese in Qinghai in the
                                                  > 6th century.
                                                  >
                                                  > Best,
                                                  >
                                                  > James Ward
                                                • James Ward
                                                  Hi Victor, ... Yes, I guess it s not too difficult to see why the Tang attitude toward the exotic Turks and Hu changed rather radically after that. They made
                                                  Message 24 of 24 , Feb 10, 2006
                                                    Hi Victor,

                                                    You wrote:

                                                    > AN Lushan (Roxan the Arsacid [that's more or less what the
                                                    > transcriptional Chinese name means]), who led the rebellion that led
                                                    > to the eventual fall of the Tang Dynasty, was born of Turco-Sogdian
                                                    > parentage in a Sogdian trading colony in Manchuria. 

                                                    Yes, I guess it's not too difficult to see why the Tang attitude toward
                                                    the exotic Turks and Hu changed rather radically after that. They made
                                                    their "power play" and took their chances. It seems like the merchants
                                                    should have been aware of the great possible jeopardy into which they
                                                    were placing their widespread commercial interests, but I guess
                                                    awareness does not necessarily equal power to oppose the momentum of
                                                    the desire for conquest. And I suppose the prospect of success was
                                                    irresistible to many in the communities... So instead they got Chinese
                                                    reprisals and a century of protection under the Uighurs, with gradual
                                                    assimilation into the Uighur and Chinese populations.

                                                    So it goes. :)

                                                    Best wishes,

                                                    James
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