"Nouniness" LO24198

From: dpdash@ximb.ac.in
Date: 03/18/00

Replying to LO24163 --

On 13 Mar 00, at 9:38, AM de Lange wrote:

> ... But the comments of prof Dash above reminds me of a third
> peculiar pattern which also has emerged in the "bottom layer" of
> Afrikaans. (It is made possible because Afrikaans has so little
> declensions and conjugations.) We have thousands of words in the
> bottom layer which can be used without any change in spelling or
> ending as a noun or a verb. The meaning of the sentence determines
> which case it will be. This one-to-two-mapping of the same word as
> noun or verb is not possible in the "top layer" since here the
> endings of the Romanic derived word has to be changed.

Dear AT,

Are the notions of 'bottom layer' and 'top layer' near to the notions of
informal everyday language and formal scholarly language respectively?

The one-to-two mapping you have referred to seems to be near- absent in
Sanskrit. I have two ideas about why that might be the case.

(i) The name 'sanskrit' is also a word in Sanskrit. It is an adjective
meaning reformed, cultured, developed, purged of weaknesses, etc.
(Sanskrit is also said to be the language that Gods speak, hence the
synonym deva-bhasha [gods' language = god-language] for Sanskrit.)
Apparently, Sanskrit is a product of a cultural movement to reduce the
semantic uncertainties, vagueness, indeterminateness, arbitrariness, etc.,
from a prevailing language (or language group) in the world some time
around 3500 to 5000 years back.

This explains why we get so many explicit grammatical rules in Sanskrit
that seem to cover almost every speakable sentence! (A reason why computer
scientists are showing some interest in Sanskrit!)

In the rule-system of Sanskrit, having a word that might be used as a noun
and a verb depending on the context of use will be seen as a weakness in a
language. In this spirit, leaving any freedom of interpretation of the
grammatical properties of a word is seen as unacceptable in Sanskrit.
However, an enormous freedom is left with respect to the actual referrent
(or signification) of a Sanskrit word. In other words, the syntax is
defined very very crisply and the semantics is left somewhat fuzzy. And,
'nouniness' (or 'verbiness') are seen as syntactic properties.

So, you may say, Sanskrit is entirely in the 'top layer', as perhaps it is
intended to be, given the name of that language! There is another language
group that was spoken in Asia called Prakrit (notice the similarity of
this name with Sanskrit) which might be interpreted as serving the 'bottom
layer' need. [I just went to the Internet to find several references to
Prakrit!] The word 'prakrit' (in Sanskrit) can mean natural, true, usual,
what exists, vulgar, etc. A lot of Buddhist literature is in fact in the
Prakrit languages. A Buddhist scholar can tell if the 'one-to-two mapping'
At referes to is available in the Prakrit languages.

> Afrikaans is the youngest language in the Indo-European family.
> Sanskrit is one of the oldest members in the Indo-European family.
> It would now be very interesting to know whether Sanskrit already
> suggest in principle/germ/gene this "one-to-two-mapping of the same
> word as noun or verb"... some DNA regions are "switched on" by
> activators (enzymes and hormones) whereas in another kind of cells
> in the body (say in the liver) other DNA regions are switched on by
> different activators.

According to my appreciation, the rule-system of Sanskrit suggests that
such 'switching on' should be confined to a particular region (e.g.,
everyday, informal, local) and should not be encouraged in another region
(e.g., that-which-is-beyond-everyday, that-which-is-beyond-the-physical,
formal, above-local).

> I am asking this question because I am thinking of the following very
> important question. How much "switcing on" rather than "radical
> constructing" has to be made when any organisation has to emerge into a
> LO? In the case of "switching on" some latent properties on a high level
> only have to be activated. But in the case of "radical constructing" some
> novel constructions at a very low level has to be made.

Based on my reading and the preceeding discussion, I am able to state the

We can recognise two types of requirement for (social or organisational)
learning. (i) There should be a process that produces variety, without any
additional constraints than what we have to live with; and (ii) there
should also be a process that selects from the variety produced according
to some collectively managed (maintained) set of criteria.

In other words, do not impose restrictions on certain types of
interaction, but do impose some restrictions on certain other types of

Prof. D. P. Dash
Xavier Institute of Management
Bhubaneswar 751013
New E-Mail: dpdash@ximb.ac.in



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