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Semantic Change in Sanskrit

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Jiyalal Kamboj's work "Semantic Change in Sanskrit" is an enlightening examination of the evolution and mutation of meaning in the ancient Sanskrit language. Kamboj dives into the inner nuances of semantic change with rigorous study, unravelling the manner in which words and their connotations have altered over time. This book provides a complete grasp of the dynamic nature of language, from evaluating linguistic shifts in Sanskrit texts to identifying the cultural and historical influences that have influenced semantic evolution. Kamboj's work is a great resource for linguists, scholars, and fans alike, shedding light on the rich fabric of Sanskrit and its significant impact on human communication evolution.

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Item Code: NAL430
Author: Jiyalal Kamboj
Publisher: Vidyanidhi Prakashan, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9789385539268
Pages: 466
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 670 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

After going through this work of Dr. Kamboj one forms the impression that the author has produced a well documented study of semantic change of Sanskrit which was not an easy task dealing as he was with one of the most ancient languages of the most ancient languages of the world that, in spite of all assiduous to ensure the purity, has not remained unaffected both in vocabulary and in meaning. He has first taken up the causes of semantic change and then gone on trace its directions. Lastly he has dived deep into Sanskrit vocabulary and pointed out semantic changes. He has produced a mass of material or scholars to ruminate over. The nature of his and peruse a vast number of Sanskrit works which he has done with utmost scientific precision and with untiring diligence. The world of scholars will ever remain beholden to him for the very fine study carried out on a subject of vital interest.

About the Author

Dr. Jiya Lal Kamboj was born at village Santari, Distt. Karnal (Haryana) on February 15, 1932. He graduated from the D.A.V. College of Lahore, Ambala City, Punjab University, in 1954. He passed M.A. (Sanskrit) in 1960 and Post M.A. Diploma in Linguistics in 1963 from the University of Delhi. He attended the Summer School of Linguistics at the University of Kerala, Trivandrum, in 1964. He got his M.Litt. degree in Linguistics in 1966 and the Ph.D. degree in 1973 from the University of Delhi. He worked first as Lecturer and then Reader at Hindu College, University of Delhi, Delhi from 1974 to 1997. He received the Sanskrit Sahitya Seva Sammana from the Delhi Sanskrit Akadami in 2002 and is a recipient of the Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour for the year 2016. After his retirement he published the Rgveda Samhita with Hindi translation, Brief explanations and notes. Now he is working on the Atharva Veda on the same pattern.


I have great pleasure in introducing to the world of scholars the valuable publication Semantic Change in Sanskrit by my friend and colleague Dr. Jiya Lal Kamboj. Though a number of good studies have appeared of late on the philosophical aspect of meaning such as the Philosophy of Word and Meaning by Dr. Gaurinath Sastri, the Indian Theories of /meaning by Dr. K. Kunjunni Raja, the Problem of Meaning in Indian Philosophy by Dr. R.C. Pandeya, the practical aspect of semantic change has not attracted the attention of scholars to the extent it should have . Except a few stray articles, some of them by the writer of these lines, no systematic study of this aspect had appeared so far. Viewed in this light the present study deserves to be warmly welcomed by scholars.

Interestingly, it is not only the moderns, even the ancients did not attempt its systematic treatment. There are references to semantic change in older Sanskrit texts, the prepositions being a potent factor for it: upasargena dhatvartho balad anyatra niyate; the suffixes being responsible for it in general but having in odd cases only a zero potential; svarthe and so on. The ancients were conscious of the phenomenon of the words dropping off their distinction in meaning and developing synonymity. This is precisely the import of the most significant of the remarks of the well-known commentator Ksirasvamin on the Amara line tamalapat-ratilakacitrakani visesakam; ittham tilakabheda ete, paryayatvamtv aduraviprakarsat. Adurviprakarsa 'not being far removed in meaning' is the key to the synonymity in words. The principles like tatsthyat tacchaddyam, the thing being designated by the name of the object on which it stands or is based, as can be seen in the expression mancah krosanti 'the pavilions cry', wheremanca 'pavilion denotes the mancastha purusa 'the man on the pavilion;' tadarthyat tacchabdyam, a thing is designated by the word for which it is meant, as can be seen in the word brahmacarin, where the word brahma meaning 'the Veda' originally, comes to acquire the sense of 'the austerities for the study of the Veda': brahma=vedadhyayanartham vratam, caratu=acarati iti brahmacari; taddharmyyat tacchabdyam, a thing is called by the characteristics it possesses, as can be seen in the word Ghana 'could', which having the basic sense of 'solid mass', vide murttau ghanah (Pan. III.3.77) came to acquire the sense of 'cloud' because of its possessing the quality of massiveness, a peremise supported by the juxtaposition of abhra and Ghana-original meaning mass of cloud'-in tam adhraghanasankasam apatantam mahakapim and a few other stazas of the Ramayana; tatsamyat tacchabdyam, a thing is called by the word for that with which it is similar, as can be seen in the word vamsa 'family', so called because it is similar to vamsa 'bamboo' in that it grows in shoots and offshoots, a characteristic of bamboo which grows in clusters; vamsa iva iti vamsah betrays on the part of the ancients a good knowledge of semantic change and the actors responsible for it. Interestingly, the Nyayasutra in the course of the discussion as to whether a word conveys the idea of an individual (vyakti) or universal (jati) mentions a number of principles, including some of those mentioned above that have passed into axioms, together with appropriate examples. These are sahacarana' association', sthana 'place' dharana 'retention', vrtta 'sameness of counduct', mana 'measure', tadarthya 'sameness of meaning', samipya 'nearness', yoga 'connection', sadhana 'means', and adhipatya 'wonership.' As a matter of fact, the entire effort in propounding and expounding the Vrttis like Laksana and Vyanjana shows a deep appreciation of the ancients of the semantic process. What are Laksana and Vyanjana if not the forsaking of the primary meaning by a word and taking on a new one, of course connected with it and not far removed from it.

The fact that the ancients had a good grasp of the principles overning the deviation of meanings of words that have deviated from their primary meaning due to certain factors is also borne out by their enunciation of them in the following Karikas:

Samyoga virayogas ca sahacaryam virodhita
Arthah prakaranam lingam sabdasyanyasya sannidhih.
Samarthyam acuciti desah kalo vyaktih svaradayah,
Sabdarthasyanavacchede visesasmrtihetavah.

"Appearance and disappearance of connection, companionship, hostility, motive, context, attribute or characteristic, juxtaposition of another word, power, congruity, place, time, gender, accent and so on are the causes of one's recollecting a special sense of a word.

It is strange that in spite of all their knowledge of the principles of semantic change the ancients did not appl it to analyse semantically the vast corpus of the vocabulary of the mighly Sasnskrit languae and leave for posterity a work which could probide an insight into the working of their mind in tracing the semantic changea which could have yielded valuable clues to a later researcher who could have benefitted from them adding at the same time much to it on the basis of his acquaintance of the science of comparative philology and knowledge of other languages which did influence Sanskrit both in vocabulary and in semantic change as has been ably shown by Dr. Kamboj in the present work. It is left only to a modern scholar like Dr. Kamboj to attempt such a work and attempt in a big ways.

Like other braches of human knowledge semantics is also connected with human behavioural pattern. Language furnishes both the tendencies, to be rather brief and short; the very naming of the objects is a case in point, laghvartham hi samjnakaranam and to be unnecessarily elaborate; tautology is a case in point, loke laghavam praty anadarah. Just as with language, so with meanings with which, according to Indian theorists, they are connected in inseparable relationship. That is why the idea is understood even from the parts of the words like Datta and Bhama which convery the sense of Devadatta and Satyabhama respectively or of a fuller expression from a single word, e.g. digdha and liptaka which give the sense of visadigdhasara and visaliptakasara repctively vide Amara: nirastah prahite bane visakte digdhaliptakau.

It is in line with the behavioural pattern that quite a few times in Sanskrit vkr which means action in general comes to denote an action in particular. The Mahabhasyakara is hinting at this very phenomenon when he says: Karotir abhutapradurbahve drstah, nirmalikarane capi vartate-prstham kuru, padau kuru, unmrdaneti gamyate, niksepane capi vartate , kate kuru, ghate kuru, asmanam itah kuru sthapayeti gamyate, vkr which is found in the sense 'to bring into being what did not before' is found in the sense of 'to rub off' e.g., prstham kuru 'rub off the back', padau kuru 'rub off the feet;' it is also to be met with in the sense of 'to put', 'to place' ,e.g., kate kuru, ghate kuru, asmanam itah kuru, 'put', 'on the mat, put on the pitcher, put the stone this side.' A scholar taking up the study of semantical change to have a thorough grasp of this behavioural pattern. Dr. Kamboj, I am happy to say, possesses it in aboundance.

After going through the work of Dr. Kamboj one forms the impression that he has produced a well-documented study of the semantic change in Sanskrit which was not an easy task, dealing as he was with one of the most ancient languages of the world that, in spite of all assiduous efforts to ensure its purity, has not remained unaffected both in vocabulary and in meaning. He has first taken up the causes of semantic change and then gone one to trace its directions. Lastly he has dived deep into Sanskrit vocabulary and pointed out semantic changes. He has produced a mass of material for scholars to ruminate over. The nature of his study being what it is, he had to scan and peruse a vast number of Sanskrit works which he has done with utmost scientific precision and with untiring diligence. The world of scholars will ever remain beholden to him for the very fine study carried out on a subject of vital interest.


The present work, though generally based on the doctoral thesis submitted by me to the University of Delhi for the sward of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1972, is entirely a different treatise dealing with change of meaning only a new order of contents has been adopted, but some topics of less importance have been dropped off and some new ones along with a large number of illustrations from the Vedic as well as the classical literature have been taken up and properly dealt with.

Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages of the world. It has had a period of several thousand years for its development, and has accumulated a vast literature in all braches of learning. It is, therefore, not possible for an individual research scholar to explore the entire Sanskrit literature for the study of the change of meaning. Efforts, however, have been made to go through certain representative works at particular periods to achieve the goal. The material used here has been collected from the literature beginning right from the Rg-Veda down to the Rajatarangini (12th century A.D.). The Sanskrit literature being generally divided into three main periods, viz. the Vedic, the Epic and the Classical, efforts have been made to explore the change of meaning in certain selected works especially in the Rg-V3eda and the Atharva-Veda in Vedic age, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Manu-Smrti at the Epic stage, and the works of Kalidasa and other important treatises such period.

Illustrations from the Sanskrit texts have been quoted in the traditional Roman transcription adopted by the modern Western scholars. Translation of the Vedic mantras and the Brahmana and Upanisad extracts is generally given, but in the case of the quotations from later literature it is given only when considered necessary. Translation generally is either extracted from or based upon the works of the eminent scholars of whom F. Max Muller, W.D. Whitney, Maurice Bloomfield, A.A. Macdonell, A.B. Keith, Ralph T.H. Griffith and S. Radhakrishnan deserve special mention. As regards the assistance from lexica, I am greatly indebted to the Sanskrit-German Worterbuch compiled by O. Bohtlink and R. Roth, Sanskrit- English Dictionary of Sir Monier Williams and the Namalinganusasana of Amarasimha.

A bibliography of important books consulted and used in the preparation of this book, and index of the used in the preparation of this book, and index an index of the words and phrases dealt with has been given in the end.

It is my first and foremost duty to express my profound gratitude to Dr. A. Chandrasekhara, Professor (retired), Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi, who initiated me in this new branch of learning, guided me in my Ph. D. thesis and has been giving ,e valuable suggestions in spite of his busy engagements, indifferent health and importunate domestic circumstance.

I also express my deep gratefulness to my revered Guru Pt. Charu Dev Shastri, an eminent Snaskrit and grammarian, to whom goes the credit of arousing in me a keen interest for Sanskrit learning when in the beginning of fifteens, I for the first time came in his contact in my under-graduate classes in the D.A.V. College (of Lahore) Ambala City. Still every meeting with his is always a great source of inspiration and learning. His homeliness, benevolence and godliness will ever reign supreme in my memory.

I am also highly grateful to Dr. Satya Vrt Shastri, Professor, Department of Sanskrit, University of Delhi, Ex-Vicxe Chancellor, Shri Jagannath Sanskrit University, Puri, and a Sanskrit savant of international renown, who has always been guiding me in my research studies by giving valuavle suggestions, and who has been very kind to grace the book by writing the foreword, which has added to its value.

Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Delhi, a great Sanskrit scholar of high distinction, who has always been encouraging me in my research studies.

I am also thankful to professor B.M. Chaturvedi Department of Sanskrit, University of Delhi, Professor Krishna Lal, Department of Sanskrit, University of Delhi, and Professor Vacaspati Upadhayaya. Department of Sanskrit, South Campus, University of Delhi, for their words of encouragement, from time to time, for my pursuit in research activities.

I also record my gratitude to Dr. Bhola Nath Tiwari, Professor, Department of Hindi, University of Delhi, an eminent Hindi linguist, who gladly permitted me to use some of the rare and very valuable books from his personal library, and whose timely suggestions and words of encouragement have played an important role in the completion of this work.

This will be ungratefulness, if I don't express my gratitude to all the scholars of present and past, from whose works I have been benefitted in writing this treatise.

In the end , I feel extremely obliged to Sh. Vinod Humar Sharma, Proprietor of the Nirman Prakashan, ad Sh. Pritam Dass of Upasana Printer, who have spared no pains to bring out this book in a very short period of time.


1. What is Semantics?

Language, the chief chief vehicle of communication in human society, has two aspects, physical and psychiecal, which may be termed as form and content respectively. On the formal side we are concerned with the production and hearing of articulate sounds, which can be studied under different heads, viz. phonetics, phonemics, morphemics and syntax. The content side, on the other hand, is immediately concerned with meaning, which is studied under the heading of semantics, the study of meaning. Language can be studied either from the outward form or from the inner meaning. Jespersen says ".....any linguistic phenomenon may be regarded either from without or from within, either from the outward form or from inner meaning. In the first case we take the sound (of a word or some other part of a linguistic expression) and then inquire into the meaning attached to it; in the second case we start from the signification and ask ourselves what formal expression it has found in the particular language we are dealing with.

Meaning is an attribute not only to language, but to all sign and symbol systems. It was in the third decade of the twentieth century, that a theory of signs-or semiotic, as some scholars prefer to call it, was evolved. According to Stephen Ullmann a symbol is "a sign standing for whatever the speaker intends to convey." All signs or symbols stand for and point to something other than themselves. They are of different types. Some of them arise spontaneously and become signs only hen interpreted as such. Clouds, for example, are an indication of rain, and the flights of birds may be construed as an omen. Secondly, there are signs, which are used by animals to communicate with each other or with human. Such signs range from simple sounds and movements of animals to the incredibly complex and delicate system of signalling used by bees, etc. Finally, there is the vast multiplicity of signs employed in human communication. All these signs can roughly fall into two groups, (1) non-linguistic symbols and (2) linguistics symbols or language proper. Under the non-linguistic symbols, we can enumerate expressive gestures, signals of various Kinds, traffic lights, road-signs, flags, emblems and many more. Linguistic signs comprise language in its spoken and written form, and all other derivatives such as short-hand, morse and other codes, and deaf and dumb and Braille alphabets, the symbols of mathematics and logic, etc. Language being the most important and the most articulate form of symbolic expression is bounds to hold a key position in any theory of signs, and the linguist is more keenly interested in this form of symbols.

Language forms only a part of the symbol-system which has a very wide range. But among symbol-systems language occupies a unique place. There are two reasons for it. One, that language is almost wholly based on pure or arbitrary convention; and two, as Robins has put it: "Language alone is able to relate its symbols to every part and every sort of human experience and to all the furniture of earth and heaven; and for this reason all other symbol systems are explained to it. Moreover languages are infinitely extendable and modifiable according to the changing needs and conditions of the speakers. This second special feature of language is far more important, and puts language in a unique position.

Language being such an important factor in human society, semanticists restrict their study to the meaning of linguistic sings or symbols only.

In the beginning no name was invented for the theory of significations of words or the study of meaning. Some called it 'semasiology' and others 'sematology'. Norean preferred to call it 'semology' which can be derived from Greek sema, semato, 'having the sense of sign' rather than signification. Lady Welby suggested 'significus' which is equally objectionable. It was Michel real who designed this branch of linguistic science as 'semantics (semantique) from Greek semaino, which has attained an unanimous recognition among scholars.

2. Brief History of Semantic studies

The need for an independent science of meaning was not felt till the modern times, and it was only in the nineteenth century that semantics emerged as an important division of linguistics and received its modern name. But it does not mean that the ancients were not interested in the problems of meaning. They made many penetrating observations on the sense and use of words, and noticed many fundamental aspects of semantic changes. From the study of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin literature we come to know that most of the principal themes of modern semantics are adumbrated in the stray remakes of their writers.

In India many a sporadic remark on meaning has been made in the Vedic and Brahamanical literature, and in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali (150 B.C.) and the subtle problems of meaning have been discussed. Various schools of philosophical thoughts also have dealt with problems of meaning here and there. In Greece, in the 5th century A.D., the Neo-platonic philosopher Proclus surveyed the whole field of semantic changes and distinguished a number of basic types such as cultural change. Metaphor, widening and narrowing of sense, which are still a part of stock an trade of the modern semantics. The ancient scholars were interested not only in the change of meaning but made investigation on their behaviour in actual speech. They made some pertinent observations in the field of polysemy, synonymy, homonymy, ambiguity and such other fields. At a more systematic level, Aristotle made several important statements on word-meaning. He was the first to define the words as 'the smallest significant unit of speech' –a definition which held sway until recently and which is still valid in a somewhat modified form. Aristotle is also responsible for a very useful distinction of words between 'autosemantic' or the words having meaning in isolation, and 'synsemantic' or the words which are meaningful only when they occur in company of other words, i.e. which serve as grammatical elements. Thus we see the modern semantics is based on the ideas of the ancient scholars about words and their uses.

There are two factors which are particularly responsible for the emergence of modern semantics in the first half of the nineteenth century. One was the rise of comparative philology which was developed into 'linguistics' and which is more emphasis was laid on the phonetic and grammatical change, yet very soon it was felt to be necessary to explore also the semantic side of language. The other factor responsible for the development of the modern semantics was the influence movement in literature, which created a great interest in the study of words and all types of dialects. The Romantic writers looked to the philologist for the enlightenment. Thus a need for a special science of meanings of words was felt.

Since about 1825 the classical scholar C. Chr. Reising had begun to evolve a new conception of grammar. He delivered some lectures on Latin philology at Halle. In the course of his lectures h divided grammar into three branches: (1) etymology-the study of word origins, (2) syntax-the study of sentences, and (3) semasiology-the study of meaning. Semasiology was a historical discipline to him and he concentrated his efforts to establish the principles governing the development of meaning. From the examination of his classification of semantic changes it can be conluded that he was not very clear about the subject matter of 'semasiology'.

Before Reising came into the field, emphasis was laid on from by philologists. Reising's ideas, therefore, proved a reaction against the prevailing tendencies among the scholars. His ideas were welcomed by some of his colleagues in Germany. But the diffusion of these ideas was at first strictly limited and was confined mainly to the classical scholarship in Germany. The works of Reisig and his disciple Hasse were published posthumously. It shows that there was no widespread interest in the problems of semantics. This is the reason that after several decades when Michel Breal began to think on the same lines, he was under the impression that he was going to start entirely a new science which did not possess even a name.

In the eighties of the nineteenth century Michel Breal appeared in the field as a great semanticist. He like Reiging, regarded semantics as a purly historical study. This orientation was a special feature of semantics in this second phase. Study of the changes of meaning, their causes, classification according to logical, psychological and other criteria, formulation of general laws, if possible, and the tendencies underlying them was taken for granted as the main task by the semanticists. The last two decades of the nineteenth century brought a quickening of interest in the subject. It was in Germany that some scholars engaged themselves in some specialized studies. In the first three decades of the twentieth century the progress made in the study of changes of meaning was very encouraging Semantics was gradually freed from the antiquated categories inherited from rhetoric and turned instead to neighbouring disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc. for a better understanding of semantic processes. Danish linguist K. Nyrop in 1913 included a volume on semantics in his famous work Grammaire historique de la langue francise. The attempt cannot be said to be mature, because semantics did not yet possess the necessary techniques for identifying the distinctive tendencies of a particular language. The year 1931 saw the publication of the monumental work of the Swedish philologist Gustaf Stren, named as Meaning and Change of Meaning, with special reference to the English language, which has been accepted as the crowning achievement of this period. In this treatise a new and empirical classification of semantic changes, based on the author's own extensive researches, has been put forward and efforts have been made to bring semantics in line with other disciplines in various fields.

Another important work published in 1931 in German was Jost Trier's monograph on terms of knowledge and intelligence, which opened a new phase in the history of semantics. For these fundamental changes in the field of linguistics and consequently in semantics we owe to the revolutionising ideas of the Swiss scholar Ferdinand de Saussure, which he propounded in his epoch making treatise Course de linguistique generale in 1916. Ther were two points in this book which require special mention. First, de Saussure did away with the traditional historical orientation of the last century linguistics and argued that language can be approached from two basically different and equally legitimate points: one 'synchronic' or descriptive and the other 'diachronic' or historical. The former analyses a language as it exists at a particular moment, ignoring its antecedents, while the latter traces the evolution of its various elements. Both the approaches complement each other, yet great care is needed in dealing with them. Secondly, as Ullmann puts it, "Saussure visualized language as an organised totality or Gestalt to which the various elements are interdependent and derive their significance from the system as a whole. He compared language to a game of chess where no unit can be added, removed or displaced without altering the entire system of relations on the chess-board. This vision of language as a system of interdependent elements is responsible for what has come to be known as 'structural linguistics." Under the influences of de Saussure several structuralist schools such as in Geneva, Prague, Copenhagen, London and elsewhere were established. Though there are vast differences of opinion among them on various points, yet they all agree on this fundamental principle. The structuralist current in Europe has been powerfully reinforced by the American School of Linguistics founded by Leonard Bloomfield which starting from different premises has arrived at very similar result.

Professor Trier's monograph on terms of knowledge and intelligence in German was the first serious attempt to introduce Saussure's principles into semantics. He based his theory of 'semantic fields on these principles. This doctrine was followed up by his disciples and likeminded scholars. The diffusion of his ideas was, and it was not till 1950 that the new semantics got into its stride.

The contemporary semantics, based on Saussurean principles as it is, differs from the old school in two ways. First, it has abandoned the one-sided historical orientation of earlier days, and although changes of meaning continue to receive a great deal of attention, there has been an unmistakable shift of emphasis towards descriptive semantics. Secondly, a number of attempts have been made in recent years to study the inner structure of the vocabulary.

The contemporary semantics has taken steps in several new directions also. With the development of the new science of stylistics scholars have come to believe that every major problem of semantics has stylistic implications, and in several cases, the two approaches are inextricably intertwined Another distinctive feature of the new semantics is that interest has shifted from general principles to the study of particular languages. A new classification of languages has been made on purely semantic grounds. Contemporary semantics is also interested in relation between language and thinking. Language is no more thought to be merely an instrument for expressing our thoughts, but a shaper and director of them in proper channels. These ideas, which were already prominent in the theory of semantic fields', have gained fresh impetus from the writings of late Benjamin Lee Whorf's Writings on the subject, which have aroused a considerable interest in America. Whof's studies were concerned with grammar rather than vocabulary, but it is in semantics that the impact o languages on though can be seen most clearly, and some promising results have already been achieved in this field.

Another important development in the field of contemporary semantics is the application of the 'theory of transformations', which has already proved very successful in other branches of linguistics. Previously it was thought that philosophy was connected with language so much that it was not really very easy to way where philosophy started and semantics ended, or whether we should regard philosophy as being within semantics or semantics within philosophy, but with the advent of these new methods semantics has become a science par excellence.

In 1963, L.L. Katz and J.A. Fodor in their paper 'The Structure of Semantic Theory' made a serious attempt to give a systematic account of the relationship between semantics and syntax. Their proposals have since been developed and modified by some other scholars and the authors themselves. Since 1969 an alternative view of the relationship between grammar and semantics has been gaining ground among transformationalists, according to which semantics should be 'generative' and not 'interpretative'. 'Generative semantics' reverses the other of the relationship between syntax and semantics, saying that it is meaning or semantic representations that are generated first and that these meanings are then converted into grammatically structural sequences of words by the rules of syntax and lexical insertion. Analysis of vocabulary is influenced by the componential approach according to which the meaning of words is described in terms of universal inventory of semantic 'components' and their possible combinations.

In the words of John Lyons we may conclude "....the two most important developments evident in recent work in semantics are, first, the application of 'the structural approach' to the analysis of vocabulary and, second, a better appreciation of the relationship between grammar and semantics. The first of these, 'structural semantics' goes back to the period preceding the Second World War and is exemplified in a large number of publications, mainly by German scholars... The second is of recent date and was stimulated by the growth of generative grammer."

3. Semantisc are a Branch of Linguistics

Comparative aspects of languages, due place was given to semantics in the domain of linguistics. With advent of 'structural linguistics' semantics was thrown out of the pail of linguistic studies or the study of meaning was rather tabooed. The zeal to do away with the meaning in the description of form of language was responsible for the negligence or perhaps the banning of semantics. "Many of Bloomfield's successors" says John Lyons, "went so far as to exclude semantics linguistics directly on the grounds that meaning could not be studies scientifically'. Moreover, they said, meaning was not part of language, but was an aspect of the use to which language was put." The study of meaning or semantics was only taken as a borderline subject, which had nothing to do with 'linguistics' proper.

Of five sub-systems, viz. (1) grammatical, (2) phonological, (3) morphophonemic, (4) sematic, and (5) phonetic C.F. Hocket calls the first three 'central', became they have nothing to do directly with the non-speech world in which speaking takes place. The last two systems, on the other hand, are called peripheral and differ from the central ones in that they impinge both on no-speech world and on the central sub-sytems. "The semantic system impinges, in one direction, on the directly observable physical and social world in which people live; and, in the other direction, on the grammatical system of the language."

There have been many pronouncements in modern, especially American, writings that the analysis of expression is the only legitimate concern of the descriptive linguistics. In fact we find many logical gymnastics performed by some analysts like Z.S. Harris in attempting to avoid problems of meaning in their actual analysis. The less extreme view, however, merely claimed that the expression plane of a language could be descriptively analysed more or less independentally of the content plane. With the development of the generative transformational approach in the late fifties, however. Lyons wrote in 1970; "At the present time there are probably very few, if any, linguists who would wish to exclude the study of 'meaning' from 'linguistics'. "A few years later Geoffrey N. Leech expressed his views in the following words: "I see semantics as one branch of linguistics, which is the study of language: as an area of study parallel to, and interacting with, those of syntax and phonology, and the way in which these are translated into sound. While syntax and phonology study the structure of expressive possibilities in language, semantics studies the meaning that can be expressed.

4. Nature of Meaning

Meaning is the most ambiguous and controversial term in semantics. Semanticits have come to an agreement about the definition have never come to an agreement about the definition of this term since the advent of the study of this branch. This is the reason that Ogden and Richards in their epoch-making work The Meaning of Meaning collected as many as sixteen definitions of this term or twenty-three if all the sub-divisions are taken into consideration. Since then a large number of definitions has been put forward, but only to add to ambiguity existing already. In the opinion of some semanticists, therefore, the term has become quite unusable for scientific purposes. Some scholars, on the other hand, are of the opinion that it is useless to abandon such a fundamental term, and that it can serve the purpose well if re-defined and various qualifications added to it.

In the early period semantics was very much influenced by psycholosy, and an approach to meaning was naturally based on it. Concept or mental image of an object was considered to be the meaning of the word, which denoted the object. De Saussure, the eminent Swiss scholar, gave a theory according to which the linguistic sign consists of significant and signifie, i.e. a signified. There are, more strictly, a sound image and a concept liked by psychological 'associative bond. Ogden and Richards put this view more scientifically in the form of a triangle according to which there is no direct relation between words, i.e. symbols and the things they stand for, i.e. referent. The word, on the other hand, symbolizes a thought or reference, which in its turn refers to the object or thing we are talking about.

Other semanticist were not in full agreement with the view held in the basic triangle of Ogden and Richards. Their views have been summed up by Stephen Ullmann in these words: "for linguistic study of meaning the basic triangle offers both too little and too much. Too much because the referent, the non-linguistic feature or event as such, clearly lies outside the linguist's province. An object may remain unchanged and yet the meaning of its name may change for us if there is any alteration in our awareness of it, our knowledge about it, or our feeling about it. The atom is the same as it was years ago, but since it has been split we know that it not the smallest constituent of matter, as its etymology suggests; moreover, it has been enriched with new connotations, some fascinating, other terrifying, since the advent of the atomic age and the atomic bomb. The linguist will therefore be well advised to confine his attention to the left-hand side of the triangle, the connection between 'symbol' and 'thought or reference' ...It gives an account of how the word acts on the hearer but seems to neglect the speaker's point of view."


Foreword (v)
Preface (xi)
Preface to the second Edition (xv)
Abbreviations (xvii)
Chapter-1 Introduction 1-53
I. Semantics in Modern Times 1
1 What is Semantics? 1
2 A Brief History of Semantic studies 3
3 Semantics as a Branch of Linguistics 9
4 Nature of Meaning 11
5 Nature of Change of meaning 19
6 Scope of Semantic Change in Sanskrit 20
7 Scope of the Present Work 22
II. Semantics in Ancient India 22
1 Etymology 23
2 Lexicography 24
3 Means of learning meanings of words 26
4 Contextual Factors 27
5 The Nature of the Primary Meaning of Word 31
6 The Apoha Theory of the Buddhists 35
7 Are phonemes significant or not? 36
8 Relation between Word and Meaning 37
9 The Khandapaksa and the Akhandpaksa 41
10 Change of Meaning 43
11 Sphota 47
Chapter-2 Causes of Semantic Change 54-102
1 Extra-Linguistic Causes 54
(i) Semantic Change due to Religious Changes 54
(ii) semantic Change due to Social, Cultural and Economic Changes 59
(iii) Semantic Change due to Geographical Conditions 69
(iv) Psychological Causes 71
(a) Emotive factor 71
(b) Taboo and Euphemism: 75
(i) Taboos of fear: 76
(ii) Taboos of delicacy: 78
(iii) Taboos of propriety 83
(c) Irony 86
II. Linguistic Causes 87
(i) Semantic Change due to Phonemic Change 87
(ii) Influence of foreign language 90
(iii) Reborrowing 94
(iv) Need for a new name 95
(v) Remotivation 96
(vi) Analogy 99
Chapter-3 Directions of Semantic Change 103-164
1 Change in Range. 103
(a) Restriction of Meaning 103
(i) Specialization of Meaning in a particular social group 103
(ii) Euphemism 109
(iii) From genus to species or from generic to secific 109
(iv) Technical Terminology 114
(v) Derivative nouns becomes proper names 116
(vi) Ellipsis 119
(b) Extension of Meaning: 123
(i) Extension of Meaning through Pleonasm 123
(ii) Meaning extend from concrete to abstract, from physical to mental and vice-versa 124
(iii) Meaning extend to similar objects, actions and qualities 129
(iv) A part comes to connote the whole (Synecdoche) 133
(v) Some words develop a very general meaning and become 'omnibus words'. 137
II. Change in Quality or Evaluation 139
(a) Pejorative Developments 139
(i) Euphemism: 139
(ii) Association 141
(iii) Prejudice 147
(iv) Other psychological factors 149
(b) Ameliorative Developments: 151
(i) Negative Improvement 152
(ii) Social, Economic, Political and Religious Factors 153
(iii) Amelioration of middle terms 162
Chapter-4 Classification of Semantic Change 165-219
1 Similarity of Senses or Metaphor: 167
(i) Anthropomorphic metaphors 168
(ii) Animal Metaphors 172
(iii) From Concrete to Abstract and vice versa 175
(iv) Some Miscellaneous Examples of Metaphor from the Rg-veda: 181
2 Contiguity of Senses or Metonymy 183
(i) Spatial Relations 184
(ii) Temporal Relations 188
(iii) A part extends its name to the whole 189
(iv) A product gets the name of the place of production: 190
(v) An effect gets the name of its cause 190
(vi) Names of peoples are extended to their native countries 193
(vii) Name of a residence extends to its residents 193
(viii) Name of an author is extended to his treatise 194
(ix) Words meaning 'space' come to be used for 'time' and vice versa. 194
(x) Words for emotions are based on physical acts 195
(xi) A proper name used in plural denotes a family or race 196
(xii) Names of Naksatras are transferred to persons born in them. 196
(xiii) Some Miscellaneous Examples of Metonymy from the Rg-veda 196
3 Similarity of Names or Popular Etymology 198
4 Contiguity of names or Ellipsis: 204
(i) Omission of qualifier in Binary combinations 206
(ii) Omission of headword in Binary combinations (visesanamatraprayogo visesyapratipattau) 211
(iii) Omission of Longer combinations 217
(iv) Some Miscellaneous Examples of Ellipsis from the Rg-veda 218
Chapter-5 Some Important semantic Changes-I 220-299
Chapter-6 Some Important Semantic Changes-II 300-382
Chapter-7 Conclusion 383
1 Effects of Semantic Change on the Vocabulary of Sanskrit 383
(a) Polsemy 383
(b) Synonymy 384
(c) Homonymy 385
2 Application of the Study of Semantic change in Various Fields 386
Bibliography 398
Index 405-415

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