Muhammad Shahidullah & His Contribution To Bengali Linguistics
Chapter 1: Introduction

Historical Perspective of Linguistic Studies in India
Linguistic Studies in Indian Universities
Linguistic Progress in India

Historical Perspective of Linguistic Studies In India


The discovery of the Sanskrit language by European scholars at the end of the eighteenth century was the stalling point from which developed the study of the Comparative Philology of the Indo-1 European languages and eventually the whole science of modern linguistics. The discovery was made independently by several scholars. Of these the most influential was the British orientalist William Jones (1746-1794) who declared in 1786 that Sanskrit bore to Greek, Latin 'a stronger affinity both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar than could possibly have been produced by accident: so strong indeed that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists'. This truly seminal and prophetic statement reinforced further by the transportation of Sanskrit in Europe, particularly in France and Germany, ultimately led to the formulation of the ‘Indo-European’ i.e., the ‘common source’ which Jones rightly surmised 'perhaps no longer exists’.


With the discovery of Sanskrit through the epoch-making translations and studies undertaken by Charles Wilkins and William Jones and their immediate successors during the last two decades of the eighteenth century, Sanskrit at once came to the forefront of linguistic studies in Europe and was responsible for a new orientation in the study of European languages. Charles Wilkins (1749/50-1836) translated the Bhagavat Gitā into English in 1785 and in 1787 he published a translation of the Hitopadeśa. The English translation of the Bhagavat Gitā had an appreciative introduction from Warren Hastings1. Jones’ translation of the Śakuntalā (1789) was a notable event in the world of European scholarship. He also published translations of Gitagobinda (1792) and of Mānava-Dharmaśāstra (1794). These publications underwent multiple editions and translations and drew enthusiastic comments: the Bhagavat Gitā from Schopenhauer, the Sakuntalā from Herder and Goethe. By founding the Asiatic Society in Calcutta (1784) and its organ, the Asiatic Researches (1788-), Jones provided a forum for further advances and a channel to broadcast them to Europe, where they were republished and translated into French and German.


From the beginning of Indo-European studies, interest was not confined to the languages alone, but was extended also to the culture of their speakers. One of the most important investigators of those studies was Friedrich Von Schlegel (1772-1829). Alter study of Sanskrit text in Paris, he published his treatise On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians (Uber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, 1808), wherein he stressed the importance of studying the ‘inner structures’ of languages (i.e., their morphology) for the light that could be shed on their genetic relationship.2 The term Vergleichende Grammatik (Comparative Grammar) was originated by him. His book was also instrumental in prompting Franz Bopp (1791-1867) to go to Paris, where he acquired the background that led to his treatise which is credited as the starting point of Indo-European linguistics as well as comparative linguistics.


In 1816 was published Franz Bopp's pioneering work on the conjugation system of the Sanskrit language compared with the conjugation systems of the Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic languages (Uber das Conjugations system der Sanskrit sprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der gnechischen, latcinischen, persischen und gemianisehen Sprache: Frankfurt). His work included translations of selected Sanskrit literary documents. Then, between 1833 and 1852, there appeared his fuller comparative grammar of these languages-stocks, with the addition of Lithuanian; in later versions Armenian and Slavic were included (Vergleichende Grammatik des Sanskrit. Zend, Griechisehen. Lateinschen, Lithuanischen, Gothischen und Deutschen).


Two of the scholars best known in the linguistic science of the early nineteenth century were the Dane Rasmus Kristian Rask (1787-1832) and the German Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and it is with Rask and Grimm that the comparative and historical study of the Indo-European family can be properly said to begin. Rask wrote the first systematic grammars of Old Norse and Old English (Vejledning til det islandske eller gamle nordiske sprog; Copenhagen 1811). Grimm was well informed about his predecessors, but he was most singularly impressed by the work of Rask on Icelandic which he reviewed in 1812 and which led him to undertake his historical work on the Germanic languages (Deutsche Grammalik, 1819).


After some progress was achieved in the study of classical languages of the Indo-European family, the modern ones of the same family in their different branches were taken up. Thus the nineteenth century saw the development of two aspects of linguistics: comparative grammar of genetically related languages and historical grammar of each individual member.


While these developments were taking place outside India, there were powerful repercussions of that movement within this country, particularly due to the European scholars and administrators as welt as missionaries who came to India and stayed there long enough to study its languages and culture. The missionaries worked on the Indian vernaculars of the South and produced translations of various parts of the Bible in Tamil and in Konkani.3 A Konkani Grammar was also compiled by one of these missionaries.4 The other missionary centre in India was founded in 1794 by William Carey (1761-1834), a Baptist missionary, at Serampore in Bengal. Carey became Professor of Bengali, Marathi and Sanskrit at the Fort William College in 1801.5 He translated the New and the Old Testaments into Bengali (1801-1807), Sanskrit (1808), Oriya (1809), Hindi and Marathi (1811). Carey also got printed, from Serampore, the Bengali Mahabharata by Kashiram Das and the Ramayana by Krittibasa. Then he turned to the Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki which was left incomplete. His press was destroyed by fire in 1812 and yet with unflinching faith he continued his translation of ihe Bible into Punjabi, Beluchi, Rajasthani (1813-1816); in Telugu, Konkani and Posthu (1818): in Gujarat) and Bikaneri (1820); in Kashmiri, Awadhi, Nepali (1821); into Kumayani and Sindhi (1825); into Dogra, Magahi, Malvi (1826); into Garwali, Kashmiri and Manipuri (1827); into Khasi (1831); into Assamese (1833 ).6  His Kathopakathan or Dialogues in Bengali, comprising a great variety of words and idioms of current Bengal, ‘intended to facilitate the acquiring of the Bengalee Language’ by the Europeans. The characters who are supposed to carry on these dialogues represent different classes of people in the Bengali society. Recorded examples of the actual colloquial style of Bengali speech had not been available earlier than in Carey's Dialogues (1801).7   In 1816 Carey wrote a note on the linguistic situation in India. ‘Though not scientifically correct, it was a pioneer work which sought to map out the position of the languages in India’.8 During 1838-1843 Major Robert Leech brought out a number of grammars of modern Indian Languages. In 1853 two important papers, the first of their kind, were brought out by Erskine Perry and R.A.S. Stevenson in the journal of the Asiatic Society which respectively gave a first correct indication of the linguistic situation in India.9


The modern Indian languages are studied for the first time in some detail by John Beames (1837-1902) in his A Comparative Grammar of the Modern Aryan Languages of India in three volumes : the first volume discussed Sounds (1872), the second Nouns and Pronouns (1875) and the third Verbs (1879). Though the study was mainly limited to the seven languages enumerated in the title of the book (Hindi, Panjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya and Bengali) there were occasional references to Assamese, Kashmiri, Nepali and the Gypsy languages, all of which have a common progenitor in Sanskrit. The relationship existing between Sanskrit and Indo-Aryan languages had been likened by him to the relationship that holds between Latin and the Romance languages. He wrote:


'Sanskrit is to Hindi and its brethren, what Latin is to Italian and Spanish.10


Beames, a young member of the Bengal Civil Service, arrived in India in 1858 and served in the Panjab from 1859. From 1861 to the end of his service he was employed in the Bengal Presidency. His booklet on the languages and linguistics of India, Outlines of Indian Philology, published from Calcutta in 1867, was the first attempt to prepare a scientific general account of all the languages then known to be spoken in India.11 According to the testimony of Beames himself, it was the initiative of Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814 - 1891) in connection with Dravidian languages  (A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian languages, 1856) that suggested to his mind the idea of turning to account his perfect fluency in the different Indo-Aryan languages to draw up a general survey of them.


‘. immediately occurred to me that a similar book was much wanted for the Aryan group’.12


Beames' Comparative Grammar was the first systematic attempt to reconstruct the histories of New Indo-Aryan languages based on extensive citations and data from a number of related languages. I-'or the first time, it used the methodology of comparative reconstruction to determine the family taxonomy of Indo-Aryan languages. Beames may be considered to be the 'founder of Modern Indo-Aryan Linguistics'. Suniti Kumar Chatterji, in his forwarding note to Beames’ work, said:


'Just as Franz Bopp laid the foundation of a comparative study uf the ancient Indo-European languages in 1816, and just as Heltenstein. Zeuss and other scholars did the same thing for the Germanic and the Celtic and other branches of the same family, Beames in his work laid down the great principles to be followed in making comparative study of the modern Aryan languages of India. Herein he may be looked upon as one of the great personalities in the study of Indian culture and the Indian mind through language'.13


This pioneer work of Beames was ably followed up by a galaxy of scholars, The year 1872 witnessed the simultaneous appearance of four accounts of the growth of the modern Aryan vernaculars of India-the first volume of Beames' work, Trumpp's Sindhi Grammar. John T. Plan's Grammar of the Hindostani or Urdu language and Hoernle's Essays in Aid of a Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages.


Rev. Ernest Trumpp's (1828-1885) first contribution to Sindhi was A Sindhi Reading Book in Sanskrit and Arabic Characters published in 1858 at London.14 In 1872 he published Grammar of the Sindhi Language compared with the Sanskrit, Prakrit and the cognate Indian Vernaculars. Trumpp's Sindhi Grammar and Platt's Grammar of the Hindostani or Urdu Language—both of them share honours with Beames' Comparative Grammar as pioneer works in the etymological study of the forms of New Indo-Aryan, confining themselves to individual languages.


A.F.Rudolf Hoernle's (1841-1918) Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages with special reference to Eastern Hindi appeared from London in 1880. He gave in one book thorough description of a modern dialect together with its comparative grammar. His Essays in Aid of a Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages15 (many of the conclusions of which were after words adopted with full acknowledgement by Beames) were 'essays' in the stricter sense of the term, destined to be the foundation of the volume published in 1880.


The investigations of Trumpp. Hoernle and Rev. S.H.Kellog (Hindi Grammar, 1876) and his own continued labours in this field, enabled Beames to work up the latter part of his Comparative Grammar.


These scholars proceed, quite independently, on similar lines. All of them emphasised the importance of the Prakrits in the development of the modern languages. Thus nearly two decades before a historical grammar of Sanskrit appeared (cf. Wackernagel, 1896) modern languages derived from Sanskrit were studied as members of the Aryan family in India, establishing what is more commonly known as the New Indo-Aryan family of languages.


During the nineteenth century, the University of Bombay founded the Wilson Philological Lectures to commemorate the pioneering services of Rev. John Wilson to the field of the study of language and arranged annual series of lectures on four specialised branches: Sanskritic; Semitic, Greek and Latin; and English. This lectureship provided for delivering a series of five to seven lectures each year over a cycle of four years, the order of the subjects being: Sanskrit, Prakrits and languages derived from it; Semitic languages; Greek and Latin; and English.


In 1877, Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar (1837-1925), the doyen of Sanskritists in India, inaugurated the Wilson Philological Lectures and incidentally gave shape to the comparative study of the Indo-Aryan languages in India. In his Lectures, Bhandarkar-even before the publication of Beames' volume concerning the verb (1879)-was the first to endeavour to show the development of Indo-Aryan from Vedic down to the present day languages. He inaugurated by delivering a course of seven lectures on the origin and development of all the three phases of the Indo-Aryan family of languages, from the Old and Middle to the Modern stage. The nature and scope of the subject were admirably defined by him in his preface in the clearest possible terms. He wrote:


'My subject was the Sanskrit and the Prakrit languages derived from it. I understood the word Prakrit in a comprehensive sense, so as to include modern vernaculars of Northern India also; and thus delivered a course of seven lectures of Sanskrit in its several forms, the Pali and the Dialects of the period; the Prakrits and the Apabhramsa; Phonology of the Vernaculars; Remnants of the older Grammatical forms in the Vernaculars; new Grammatical Formations to supply the place of the forms that had disappeared and General Questions as to the relation between these several languages'.16


As regards the approach, Bhandarkar remarked:


‘The method I followed is strictly historical, tracing the modern vernaculars from the original Sanskrit through all the different stages of development of which we have evidence and assigning the different transformations to their causes, natural or physical, racial and historicaf .17


This clarification of the aim, method and the plan of study was carried out by him with conspicuous success. It served as a model for all his successors in the field with an inevitable change in terminology where we speak of Old Indo-Aryan for Sanskrit and its various forms, Middle Indo-Aryan for Pali and Prakrits up to Apabhrumsa and New Indo-Aryan for the vernaculars of Northern India. Tracing the forms of the New Indo-Aryan languages through the Middle Indo-Aryan lo the Old Indo-Aryan stage has become a standard procedure and all later works in the Held have followed it closely.


In his First lecture ['General Laws guiding the Development of Language; the different stages in the Development of Sanskrit'] Bhandarkar pointed out that India can rightly claim the honour of being the home of scientific philology. In this Lecture, he expressed his opinion that Sanskrit passed through three, instead of two as generally believed, stages, viz., Vedic Sanskrit, Middle Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit.


'It is usually known in two forms, the Vedic Sanskrit, which is the older phase of the language and the classical Sanskrit, in which most of the Sanskrit literature of later days is composed. Bhandarkar finds it necessary to recognise a third form of Sanskrit which he calls the Middle Sanskrit, which is at the basis of Panini's grammar, is characterised by the use of verbal forms and is found in later vedic works.18


In the Lectures two and three [Second lecture:'Pali and the Dialects of the period,' Third Lecture: 'The Prakrits and the Apabhramsa') Bhandarkar traced the linguistic history further through Pali, the literary Prakrits and the Apabhramsa. In his opinion where Pali has developed out of Middle Sanskrit, the Prakrit arose from Classical Sanskrit.


The next three lectures [Fourth Lecture; 'Phonology of the Vernaculars of Northern India', Fifth Lecture: 'Remnants of the older Grammatical forms in the Northern Vernaculars,' Sixth lecture: 'New Grammatical Formations in the Northern Vernaculars'] were devoted to the study of the modern Indian languages which Bhandarkar called by the name of Vernaculars. In these lectures, he discussed the rise of the phonological and morphological systems of the major New Indo-Aryan languages with the help of specimens from seven languages, viz. Marathi, Gujarati, Sindhi, Panjabi, Hindi (Vraj), Oriya and Bengali. He left out Kashmiri and Nepali, since no descriptions of these languages were then available. In the morphological system, Bhandarkar made special reference to the rise of the oblique forms (except in Bengali and Oriya) and the use of case terminations. His aim was to show that these modern languages were the linear developments of the Middle Indo-Aryan dialects. He has convincingly shown it by tracing all their words to the Prakrits with the use of additional phonetic changes which have occurred in the mean time and which constitute the peculiarities of the New Indo-Aryan stage. These changes include the simplification of conjunct consonants, changes in the vowel due to compensatory lengthening, the development of nasalised vowels caused by the nasals before consonants, the rise of the new diphthongs out of cluster of vowels caused by the loss of intervocalic consonants, development of new sounds in some languages like the open mid-vowels of Gujarati, or the implosives of Sindhi, the dental affricates of Marathi and Oriya, the rounding of a in Bengali, and above all, the numerous effects produced by the stress accent which developed in these languages. All these are explained by him with numerous examples, and his treatment showed a decided improvement over that was found in the first volume of Beames.


'What strikes one most in this study is Bhandarkar's sensitiveness to dialectal differences in a language or peculiar developments of different vernaculars which he brings out with particular care, and for which approach he had no scope in the study of the earlier periods.'19


In the final lecture ['Relation between Sanskrit, Pali and the Prakrits and the Modem Vernaculars' j Bhandarkar pointed to the genealogical relationship of Sanskrit, Pali and the Prakrits and modern vernaculars.


The first two lectures and the seventh were published in the Journal of the Bombay branch of the Royal Asiatic Society between the years 1883 and 1885, the third and the fourth were published between 1887 and 1889. The other two lectures remained in manuscript for a long time. The complete series was published in 1914. The published lectures gave both the general principles of comparative grammar and their application to Prakrits and modern Indo-Aryan languages.


Bhandarkar was 'one of those high priests of oriental learning who initiated research on western methods.'20 His numerous pupils, followers and admirers commemorated his eightieth birthday in 1917 by the inauguration of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute at Poona. On the occasion of the opening of the Series of Lectures arranged by the Institute, Bhandarkar said in his inaugural address :


The object of this Institute is to promote, among its members. a spirit of inquiry into the history of our country—literary, social and political—and also to afford facilities to outsiders engaged in me same pursuit. The idea is to get scholars to deliver lectures and read papers before the members of the institute and to publish these in the form of a journal.....'


In 1919 die All India Oriental Conference was inaugurated by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. R.G. Bhandarkar presided over the first oriental conference. The conference was opened by George Lloyd as Governor and he was described as 'an ancient Rsi incarnate, a man of pure convictions and courage, an example of purity of life, purity of thought and purity of action'.21 His Presidential Address, read in his absence, was an enlightening survey of the field of study, closing with a note of congratulation upon the growth of critical scholarship in India and of firm confidence in its future.22 The second sitting of the conference was held in Calcutta under the guidance of Asutosh Mookherjee and the third sitting was held in Madras (1924) under the presidentship of Ganganath Jha.23 It may also be mentioned here that in the year 1908 during the Vice-Chancellorship of Asutosh Mookherjee, the University of Calcutta conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.24


The last quarter of the nineteenth century saw the beginning of a scientific attempt at the comparative study of the Indo-Aryan family of languages in India at a lime when the comparative grammar of the Indo-European languages was entering a new phase of development with the so-called junggrammatiker like Karl Brugmann, Hermann Osthoff and Herman Paul taking the lead.  About 1870, the influence of Darwin and the development of natural sciences led to the introduction of new methods in linguistics. There was a controversy between the original founders of that science of comparative grammar and the new grammarians who insisted on the inviolability of sound laws.  But the neo-grammarians showed that when a given language, in the course of historical transmission from one generation to another, became subject to inevitable changes in its phonetic and phonemic structure, such a change affected every occurrence of that situation in that language.  The earliest systematic study of dialect arose out of the controversy centering round the Neo-grammarian principle of the inviolability of sound laws. This controversy prompted scholars of language; to test their theories on the contemporary living dialects.


The Nee-grammarians recognised the importance of living languages for the purpose of linguistics. In fact, on the part of Indian scholars, there was a lamentable lack of interest in the study of modern vernaculars. Bhandarkar, in his Wilson Philological Lectures, wrote:


The Modern Vernaculars have not yet succeeded in attracting the attention of the learned in Europe.....But upon the whole it must be acknowledged that vernacular philology is still in a state of infancy and a great deal of what has been written is unsatisfactory '.25


In the Bulletin of the School of Oriental Research, J.Ph. Vogel, Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Archaeology at the University of Leiden (Holland), wrote:


'There is every reason to hope that this curious altitude will be abandoned and that in the future the Indians will take a larger share in the scientific investigation of their own national languages.....26


At the conference of the Orientalists27 held at Simla in July 1911, under the auspices of the Government of India, a scheme was proposed by Denison Ross for an Oriental Research Institute to be established in Calcutta. The Institute was intended to offer facilities for the higher branches of Oriental study lo both Indians and Europeans.  It was proposed to have a chair for the vernaculars too. But owing to the war and other reasons the scheme fell through.28


Charles James Lyall (1845-1920) took an active interest in the work of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain. At a meeting of the Society on March 14, 1916 with Lyall in the Chair, when the Campbell Memorial Gold Medal was awarded to Professor Macdonell of Oxford, the latter in his reply touched upon the desirability of creating, on behalf of British Sanskrit scholars, some opportunity of study and research in India. Professor Macdonell said :


'.....the only remedy seems to be the establishment of a school of research for Europeans at some centre of Sanskrit learning, preferably Benaras, like the School of Classical Archaeology at Athens or the French School at Hanoi in Indo-China. It will be a reproach to this country if we cannot establish something of this kind in India, with all our obligations to advance education learning in connection with the ancient civilisation and literature of the vast Indian Empire.' 29


Professor Macdonelf s proposal was warmly welcomed not only by British Sanskritists but also by Sanskrit scholars from other countries. Shortly afterwards a committee was appointed including Charles J. Lyall, Macdonell and Thomas (the Librarian of the India office), to consider the question, but even after two or three meetings, as the war was on, the committee did not formulate any definite proposals.


Lyall took an active interest in the oriental studies carried on in the University of London and was for many years the chairman of the Board of Studies in Oriental languages and literatures. He had taken keen interest in the foundation of the School of Oriental Studies. On February 23,1917, the School of Oriental Studies, London Institution, was formally opened by George V.30


With the publication of George Abraham Grierson's (1851-1941) Linguistic Survey of India, Indo-Aryan dialectology took a new turn. For the first time, a huge body of linguistic data of spoken vernaculars and texts involving extensive field-work was compiled and used to elicit the language history and taxonomy of the Indo-Aryan. Almost all the work in South-Asian dialectology published since Grierson, has been based on his work, with only a very meagre amount of original investigation and Grierson's volumes remain by far the most important source of data for the social scientist concerned with the distribution and dialect-diversity of South Asian languages.


His great achievement in the Survey (1003-1928) owed directly to the inspiration of Beames and his immediate successors in the subject. The plan of the work was set forth by Grierson, a civil servant, in the international Congress of the Orientalists at Vienna in 1886. The Congress recommended the matter to the Indian Government and the Linguistic Survey Project was taken up by the Government of India. Printed questionnaires were sent to the most remote parts and in 1898 Grierson was able to commence determining the number of languages, dialects and sub-dialects and the boundaries between them.31 In the Survey, Grierson offered sample texts and brief descriptions of many dialects and in some cases provided maps indicating what he believed to be the boundaries of major dialects.


The Linguistic Survey of India remains one of the world's major productions of linguistic scholarship. However, Grierson himself was fully aware of the inevitable limitations of his project. The province of Madras and Burma and the States of Hyderabad and Mysore declined to participate. As a result only 179 of the 188 languages currently covered could be surveyed together with 544 identified dialects.


Grierson recognised seventeen languages in all under the Indo-Aryan family, of which seven are in the outer sub-branch, nine in the inner and one in the mediate, as follows:


A. Outer sub-branch:

1. North-Western : Lahnda, Sindhi

2.  Southern : Marathi

3.  Eastern : Oriya, Bihari. Bengali, Assamese


B.  Mediate Sub-branch :

4. Mediate : Eastern Hindi


C.  Inner Sub-branch :

5. Central: Western Hindi, Panjabi. Gujarati, Bhili, Khandeshi, Rajasthani.

6.  Pāhārī : Hastern Pāhārī (Nepali), Central Pāhārī, Western Pāhārī.


Grierson, however, partially modified his classification of the Indo-Aryan languages in 1931 where he proposed only three groups for the earlier six.


A.  Outer :

1.  North-West : Lahnda, Sindhi

2.  Southern : Marathi

3.  Eastern : Bihari, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese


B. Midland :

4. Western Hindi


C. Inner:

Close to Western : Panjabi, Rajasthani, Hindi. Gujarati, Pāhārī (Eastern, Western, Central) Close to Outer : Eastern Hindi.


His The Modern Indo-Aryan Vernaculars (Bombay 1934)32 contained part of the material which he had collected over many years for that volume of" the Grundriss der Indo-Arischen Philologie and Alterumskunde which was to deal with the modern Indo-Aryan languages. The book contained two introductory chapters (General survey and Historical). The third chapter (Pronunciation and Alphabet) was provided with seven plates illustrating the northern alphabets. The fourth chapter contained the main body of the work, the phonology, in which Grierson set out the main changes that have taken place between Sanskrit and the modern languages. The Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies wrote:


'.....but his unrivalled knowledge of Indian languages, his strong intuitive sense and the long years of patient toil have collected here a wealth of material which will serve as a mine for many future scholars'.33


On his eighty-fifth birth-anniversary, his fellow-workers in many fields, paid a glowing tribute thus :


'You are worthier than any Englishman of this age have upheld the great tradition of Sir William Jones.....The long list of your publications extending over nearly sixty years of devoted labour, bears witness to the boundless energy and enthusiasm and to the firmness of spirit which, held undeviating on the path you have chosen, has triumphed over every difficulty of circumstance....In your 77th year you completed the last of the twenty volumes of the Linguistic Survey of India and in your 82nd year of the fourth and last part of your great dictionary of Kashmiri. You, author in early manhood of the Bihar Peasant life, creator of the linguistic Survey, compiler of so many grammars of known and unknown languages, editor and translator of so many Middle and Modern Indo-Aryan texts, have more than any other contributed to our knowledge of the innumerable languages and dialects of India. Your work, beyond that of all others, has stimulated in Indians themselves a just pride in their own vernaculars and a deep and enduring interest in the long history that lies behind them.'-34


The Italian Scholar Luigi Pio Tessitory wrote an article in the Indian Antiquary, Bombay (1914-1916), viz., 'Notes on the Grammar of Old Western Rajasthani with Special Reference to Apabhramśa and to Gujarati and Marwari. ' In his 'Prefatory Remarks' the author noted :


'.....I am the first European who has ever dared to treat an important subject of Neo-Indian Philology, without having been in India.....'


Tessitory also worked on some other aspects of the Old Western Rajasthani, the common source of modern Rajasthani and Gujarati. His is a pioneering attempt to give a historical development of the language. His observations on phonetic changes in the post-Apabhramśa period have been very highly spoken of by Suniti Kumar Chatterji, who has termed this attempt as the very base of all further linguistic studies.


The Tradition of Indo-Aryan studies in India that had begun with Grierson, continued for some time through the efforts of some inspired linguists, but most of their studies, though valuable, remained largely limited to the treatment of specific languages or dialects of New Indo-Aryan or some controversial problems thereof. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was 'the first Bengali with a scientific insight to attack the problems of the language'.35 As an instance of his serious study of the science of language and of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European languages, it may be mentioned that he had read the monumental work on the subject by the German scholar, Karl Brugmann in its English translation in four volumes.36


‘ is find in one who is the greatest writer in the language, and a great poet and seer for all time, a keen philologist as well, distinguished alike by an assiduous enquiry into the facts of the language and by a scholarly appreciation of the methods and findings of the modern western philologist.'37


All through his life he kept up his interest in Bengali linguistics and related problems which were full of striking ideas. His writings were on Bengali phonetics, Bengali onomatopoetics and on Bengali noun and on other topics, the earliest of which appeared in 1885. He wrote an appreciative criticism of the Bengali Grammar by John Beames (first published in 1891). 38   His criticism of Beames' account of the pronunciation of Bengali showed that the analysis of spoken Bengali


'will still repay the efforts of inquires who arc trained to the task by comparative studies.39


His S'abdatattva or 'Science of Words' (first published in 1909) a collection of articles of the grammar and phonetics of his native language contains many most suggestive and interesting remarks, which


'.....coming from the acknowledged chief of Bengali letters, must be read with respect and difference by all and especially by foreign students to his language.' 40


What is valuable in the essays of Śabdatattva is that


'.....the sound beginnings and the correct orientation which lie to the credit of Rabindranath.' 41


In 1938, he published his later studies and papers on the Bengali language in collected form in u book called Bānglā Bhāsā Paricay or 'Introduction to the Bengali Language.' He began this book with this statement:

'I have commenced this book with a view to explain the strange mystery, which overpowers my mind with its wonder, the mystery which concerns the world of language that is born in the mind of man.42


He had thus 'both the sense of wonder for the mystery of speech on the one hand, and the conscious desire and attempt to explain that mystery.' 43 He has in this book, 'with the true humility of the scholar who actually knows the science and of the poet who has an intuitive sense of the language, described himself as 'a traveler who is doing his journey on foot.' 44 As he has said in this book, 'he has been wandering in the highways and by-ways of language and recording his observations, only with a view to create a similar Wanderlust in the domain of language-study among his readers.' Tagore was one of the greatest artists in language and he drew out from Bengali, which before his advent was just a provincial language of India, all its latent powers of expression.45


One of the greatest intellectual personages of Bengal, who as contemporaries of Rabindranath, the scholar of Sanskrit as well as literature in Bengali, Haraprasad Sastri (1853-1931), tried in his essays and observations to introduce a rational approach to the study of Bengali as a language. He wrote a number of articles which were much ahead of their time mainly based on Indian grammatical tradition. Ramendra Sundar Trivedi (1864-1919) was deeply interested in the study of our ancient religion, culture, philosophy and also in the Bengali language and literature. He is one of the best known essayists in the language and his writings are remarkable for deep and varied scholarship and for clear and adequate expression. Jogeshchandra Ray Vidyanidhi (1859-1956) was another science professor deeply interested in our old culture and in the Bengali language. He tried to simplify the Bengali orthography and typography, and his attempts pave the way for the adoption of the linotype in Bengali. Under the auspices of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, since its very inception in 1894, studies were undertaken in the field of Bengali language and Bengali linguistics. And texts, monographs and lexicons were published by the journal of the Parishad.46





During the nineteenth century no special attempt was made by any Indian University to establish a teaching department of linguistics. The University of Calcutta was the first in India to establish a department of Comparative Philology. So long as the Act of Incorporation of 1857 was in force, Comparative Philology was not an independent subject for the Master of Arts Examination of the University. After the declaration of the New Regulations under the Indian Universities Act of 1904 (VAI of 1904) Linguistics was made an independent subject under the name of Comparative Philology for the M.A. Examination.47 Even then it took time for the University to make due arrangements for the teaching of different aspects of the subject. In fact initial steps in this regard were taken in 1910. The University under the inspiring personality of its presiding genius, Asutosh Mookherjee (1864-1924), the then Vice-Chancellor of the University, took a keen interest in Indian linguistics. Muhammad Shahidullah (1885-1969) was the first product of this Department (1910-1912). In an address to the Senate, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, said :


'Our efforts in this direction have been successful, for the first time in the history of the University, one of our graduates, a Mohamedan, I am glad to say, took the M.A. degree in Comparative Philology in 1912 and he has been followed by other successful candidates.' 48 [September, 1913]


A full Post-Graduate Course in Comparative Philology formed part of the Post-Graduate instruction in this University which was the only one in India till 1948 to recognise linguistics as a major subject.49 The earliest chair established was that of a professorship in Comparative Philology at the University of Calcutta in the year 1913. Otto Strauss (1881-1940) of Kiel was appointed to it.50 His tenure of office was not long. During the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, as alien to the Government of India being of German nationality, he was treated as an enemy. The British Government arrested him. He was in prison in the Fort of Ahmednagar from 1915 to 1920.


In 1917 Post-Graduate studies were placed on a new position and on that occasion the vacant professorship of Comparative Philology was filled by the appointment of I. J. S. Taraporewala and the Comparative Philology was made a separate department under the control of the council of the Post-Graduate Training in Arts.51 The selection of such eminent scholars as Taraporewala, Suniti Kumar Chatterji and others resulted in an upsurge of interest in linguistic studies.


Irach Jehangir Sorabji Taraporewala (1884-1956) was awarded the Government of India scholarship for scientific study of Sanskrit in Europe in 1911. He went to Cambridge and was admitted into Fitzwilliam Hall where he read Sanskrit. Comparative Philology, Arabic and Persian under Professors Edward James Kapson,52 Peter Giles,53 Nicholson and Edward G. Browne54 respectively and took his B. A. degree there. He then proceeded to the University of Wurzburd in Germany and studied Sanskrit under Julius Jolly.55 He studied Iranian languages at Heidelberg under Christian Bartholomae.56 He obtained the Ph.D. degree in 1913 with 'Summa Cum Laude' on his thesis entitled 'Some Notes on the Adhyaksapracāra (Book on Kamilya's Arthaśāstra). 57 On his second return from Europe Taraporewala joined the Central Hindu Collegiate School in Benaras as Principal.  In September, 1917, he joined the University of Calcutta as Professor of Comparative Philology. Besides his duties as Professor and Head of the Department of Comparative Philology he held classes also in Sanskrit, Persian, Gujarati and German. He introduced the study of Avestan at the University by revising the M. A. Course in Comparative Philology. While he was in Calcutta (1917-1930), he had done much to arouse enthusiasm for the study of the modern Indo-Aryan languages and their history. His Selections From Classical Gujarati Literature (University of Calcutta, 1930), of which the first volume appeared in 1925, were intended to do for Gujarati what Dinesh Chandra Sen's selections had done for Bengali. Both these series owed their inspiration to Asutosh Mookherjee.58 His Elements of the Science of Language (University of Calcutta, 1932) is the most comprehensive work of its kind so far produced in India. Between 1927 and 1929 he served as visiting Professor of Iranian Studies at Visvabharati, Santiniketan. In 1930 he joined the M. F. Cama Atharvan Institute in Bombay as Principal and on his retirement from there he was appointed Director of Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Poona (1940-1942).


Pandurang Damodar Gune (1884-1922) was awarded the Government of India scholarship for scientific study of Sanskrit in Europe in 1910.59 He obtained his training in linguistics in Germany and submitted his Ph. D. thesis in 1913 from the University of Leipzig. He was the first Indian to publish a short introduction to the comparative grammar of Indo-European with special reference to Sanskrit. The need for a text-book suitable for Indian students of Sanskrit who had to know elements of Comparative Philology was to some extent met by his Introduction to Comparative Philology. Since its publication in 1918, his book which was the pioneer work of its kind in India, has been in use all over India particularly among students of Sanskrit and Indian languages and 'has remained an authoritative text-book in most of the Universities of India for nearly two generations'. In its Introduction, Suniti Kumar Chatterji wrote :


'Professor Gune's book...has remained for Indian students, and even for students of Indian Linguistics abroad, the most convenient short work in a single volume giving the rudiments of general principles which form the basis or background of all specialised study of a particular linguistic group or family, together with a sufficiently full narrative history elucidated by a wealth of illustrative examples of the Aryan speech in India through the centuries in its three stages of Old, Middle and New Indo-Aryan.... In fact Professor Gune's work in the treatment of Middle and New Indo-Aryan frequently reminds us of the great R. G. Bhandarkar. But with his knowledge of the Indo-European background, Professor Gune had a wider vision. Subsequently Indian scholars have come forward to meet the need for works on general linguistics and on the linguistics of Indo-Aryan...’ 60


Another impetus was given in Calcutta to linguistics by the inauguration of the Pali studies. Pali was included in the curriculum of studies for the M.A. Examination in 1882. While establishing the Department of Pali studies under the council of Post-Graduate Teaching in Arts, the objective of the University was to open out an opportunity for a comprehensive study of that wide-spread Buddhist civilisation.61 Buddhist civilisation has to be approached from such varied aspects of linguistic, literary, epigraphic, religious and historical. The original sources of knowledge in this regard are accessible to through such languages as Pali, Prakrit, Mixed Sanskrit, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese. The Department of Pali has to carry out its responsibilities with the assistance and co-operation of such sister departments as those of Sanskrit, Ancient Indian History and Culture, and Comparative Philology.


In 1919 the University of Calcutta under the guidance of Asutosh Mookherjee took lead by instituting Indian Modern Languages as a subject for the M.A. Examination. Previous to that, the study of the mother-tongue was made compulsory for Indian students upto the B. A. stage. Asutosh Mookherjee insisted upon retaining word 'Vernaculars' instead of the more usual 'Languages'


'We should take a proper pride in our vernaculars1.62


Taraporewala remarked :


'Recent years have seen a renaissance of every literary vernacular of India. The present generation of students have been taking as much pride in their knowledge of the mother-tongue, as their fathers did in their mastery of English.'63


Shahidullah wrote in 1920 :


‘Whether in ancient limes or modern, whether in Greece or Rome, England or France, national awakening has been co-eval with literary renaissance. It is a happy sign of the times that Bengali, once despised by the learned in the first flush of their western culture, is now being cultivated by men who could have been a glory to any country. Bengali formerly scarcely recognised by our Alma Mater, has now the coveted position of being one of the subjects for the highest degree of the premier University in India.... The name and fame of Bengali instead of being confined to a few savants of Europe is now even on the lips of the men in the street, thanks to the genius of another son of Bengal.'64


In an address at the Annual Convocation on 1939, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta, M. Aziz-ul-Haq, said :


'The Department of Comparative Philology is now a growing Department and the introduction of Indian languages as a subject for the M.A. Examination has created a new and added interest in works on Comparative Philology. The close connection between studies in Comparative Philology and the higher language studies of Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Pali and Indian languages generally cannot be over-estimated. This Department has been gradually forming itself into a school of modern Indian Philology and studies and research in this Department are opening up a new chapter in the history of India and her neighbouring country." 65


Although outside of Calcutta no regular post-graduate centre existed for teaching linguistics as a major subject, there was sufficient interest among scholars in several universities. The first university which took definite steps in this direction was the Panjab University. Professor Alfred Cooper Woolner (1878-1936) was an inspiring teacher (1903-1936) and organiser and gradually a strong faculty of teachers interested in linguistics grew up around him. In April 1928 at Lahore the Linguistic Society of India was established under the auspices of the Punjab University when Woolner was the Vice-Chancellor (1923-1936). Among its founder-members were I.J.S. Taraporewala and Suniti Kumar Chatterji. The first President of the Society was Taraporewala.


'The society is almost exclusively an Indian one, indeed, its only European member appears to be our member Mr. A.C. Woolner; but it has accepted without question the advantages of modern European linguistic methods, and has set before itself the ideal of combining the best of those models with the best of the methods of the great Indian grammatical school founded by PaninT.66


The Society was later followed by the publication of its journal, Indian Linguistics.


‘The first number of its Bulletin contains three scientific articles : 'A new viewpoint for Vernacular Grammars' by the Society's first President, Dr. I.J.S. Taraporewala; 'Recursives in New Indo-Aryan' by Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterji; and 'The Dravidian Uf  by L. V. Ramaswamy Aiyer, which are a good earnest of the society's practical attachment to its ideals.


It includes also a copy of the graceful covering letter from the society which accompanied the commemoration volume to Sir George Grierson'.67


After the death of Woolner, the head-quarter of the Society moved over to Calcutta. The Department of Linguistics of Calcutta University supported its activities (1938-1954) with the prompt contribution of Suniti Kumar Chatterji, Prabodh Chandra Bagchi and Sukumar Sen. Chatterji wrote :


'The lamented death of Dr. A. C. Woolner has been a very great set-back for the activities of the Linguistic Society of India. The work of the society from the very nature of the case (the membership being extremely limited and scattered in a few Universities over the whole of India) had to be restricted to the publication of the journal.... At the last Oriental Conference held at Trivandrum in 1937, it was decided to transfer the centre of the society from Lahore to Calcutta. There has been in existence in the University of Calcutta since the year 1931 a small Philological Society consisting of less than half-a-dozen members, excluding the students who are interested in the subject, and this society has had some activity all along in holding meetings and discussions on topics of linguistic interest. It was thought, those who were running this Philological Society should take up the work of the Linguistic Society of India. Accordingly the office was transferred to Calcutta and the work taken up by some members of the staff of the University with the approval university authorities. It took some time to receive from Lahore papers id publications as well as the funds at our disposal and finally in March 1939 we took in hand the re-issue of the journal in a new form.'68


The Deccan College, established as a residential undergraduate and graduate college by the Government of Bombay in 1821, was closed in 1934 for reasons of retrenchment. After a short while the Government of Bombay decided to revive the Deccan College as a foundation for research and post-graduate studies and established two research departments in the humanities and social sciences by constituting lour chairs for linguistics and four for historical and social sciences. The Research Institute came into being in 1939. The four chairs for linguistics comprised Indo-European, Dravidian, Semitic and Sanskrit Philologists. In 1948 the Government of Bombay established the first of its regional Universities in Poona of which the Deccan College became a constituent Institute. In its statutes the University set up a Board of Studies in Linguistics, although Linguistics itself was not yet a major subject for the M.A. The interest in linguistic studies in our country was confined to only two Universities, Calcutta and Poona, till the middle of the twentieth century.





Fortunately for the development of linguistic study in India the institution of overseas scholarships by the Government of India during the second decade of the twentieth century offered to our first tine of scholars an opportunity to go abroad and master the new tools of linguistic science in Europe. The School of Oriental Studies in London as well as the Linguistics Department at the University of Paris attracted a majority of our linguists; a few centres in Germany also provided the necessary impetus to our scholars in acquiring the new techniques.


The first and one of the most important contributions came from the Paris School of Linguistics. Jules Bloch (1880-1953) was a student in Paris of eminent masters both of French Orientalism and Linguistic Studies — Sylvain Levi and Antoine Meillet. He taught Sanskrit at the Sorbonne: Hindustani and Tamil at the Ecole des langues Orientales Vivantes and Comparative Grammar at the Ecole des hautes etudes, and finally he was made Professor at the College de France on the passing away of his master Sylvain Levi in 1936, retiring from the post in 1951. His life had been all through that of quiet study and research and training a band of scholars, both French and other European as well as Indian, in linguistic studies in relation to India.


His research and publications, mainly on Indian languages, were wide ranging.  Most of his writings must be regarded as fundamental corner-stones, investigating the relationship between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian in India. In 1906 he published a very significant monograph on nominal sentences in Sanskrit. His doctoral thesis focused on Marathi. He equipped himself for this study by previous excursions in the Middle Indo-Aryan field including the Epic. He came to India and spent sometime in Poona between 1906-1908 with R.G. Bhandarkar.69   The result of this sojourn was his magnificent Formation de la langue marathe, published in 1920.70


'.....which has become of classic in the historical study of a modern Indian language and has been a source of inspiration and an object of imitation and emulation by a good number of Indian scholars working in their own languages.' 71


His formation is the starting point of the modern scientific study of Indo-Aryan. 1915 R.L.. Turner wrote in the journal of the Royal Asiatic Society :


'Since writing this article [The Indo-Aryan Nasals in Gujarati'] I have had the privileged of reading M.J. Bloch's excellent book La formation de la langue marathe which all students of Indian languages in particular and of Comparative Philology in general will welcome as one of the first scientific attempts to explain the .....history of a modern Indian language.' 72


In the Lingustic Survey of India, the chapter dealing with the Marathi language, prepared by Sten Know, was published in 1905. Bloch's Formation (translated into English by Dev Raj Chanana, 1970} was more comprehensive and careful. This was the first systematic undertaking to co-ordinate data on Marathi language - tracing its evolution and development from Sanskrit to Prakrit and Apabhrams'a to Old Marathi and from the Old Marathi to the Modern one.


Apart from his special work on Marathi and on Sanskrit as well as Prakrit Bloch brought out two works of general survey, one on Indo-Aryan (1934) and the other on Dravidian (1946).


The Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies published his Forlong lectures for 1929 on 'Some Problems of Indo-Aryan Philology'. The article consisted of three parts and an Appendix: Part I: The Literary Languages; Part A: Indo-Aryan and Dravidian; Part AI: Present Requirements of Indo-Aryan Research. In the article Bloch propounded his views on the subject:


'As they [Lectures] are only in part new or personal; as there is a want of proportion between the different parts, which would not be admissible otherwise; and mainly because they arc at bottom more of a hortative than of an epideictic character, 1 have thought best to publish them as nearly as possible in the actual form in which they are delivered.' 73


His F  Indo-Aryan de Veda aux Temps moderness (Paris, 1934) is an admirable resume' of review of general lines of development of the Indo-Aryan speech from the time of the Veda to the present day. The book (translated into English by Alfred Masters, 1965) serves as an excellent guide to the principal studies dealing with Vedie language. Turner, while reviewing the book of Bloch, commented thus:



‘.....The whole book is informed with so personal an insight into the problems, so critical a linguistic scene, so just an appreciation of the different factors of development and throughout so scientific a spirit, that no linguist, whatever his particular field, can fail to profit by its reading, no Indianist, whether comparativist or not, can afford to be without it.....the great contribution which Professor Bloch makes is that amidst all this detail much of which is uncertain and must remain so till far more workers have entered the field, he has produced a clear picture of the main line of development undergone by the Indo-Aryan languages and has displayed wherever possible the system of that development. This is equally true of the section of morphology, in which Professor Bloch has made even greater personal contributions.'74


In a sense, it is the fulfillment of Bhandarkar's lectures. The entire group of Himalayan dialects, some of the minor dialects of Hindi and in particular Apabhrams'a, are additions to the meager stock of languages treated by Bhandarkar and his successors. Similarly me Gypsy and the Dardic group, the frontier languages of India sharing the characteristics of Indo-Aryan are some of the most intimately studied groups which have been utilised for this survey of Indo-Aryan languages. The progress indicated in Hindi's F Indo-Aryan became possible on account of Linguistic Survey of India by Grierson which brought in a large number of little known languages and dialects within the scope of the scientific linguistic investigator.


If Bloch started the scientific study of modern Indo-Aryan, Ralph Lilley Turner J-1983) furthered the movement by his individual contributions. Turner first became interested in Indian languages while still a pupil at the Perse Grammar School during the headmastership of W.H.D Rouse. After graduating with First class Honours at Cambridge in both parts of the Classical Tripos and in the Oriental languages Tripos, he joined the Indian Education Service (1913). He held in Benaras a lectureship in Sanskrit and English literature at the Queen's College. His appointment to the Indian Educational Service and to a lectureship at Queen's College, provided both the stimulus lo his study of the modern Indo-Aryan languages and the opportunity to pursue this study on the spot. In 1920 he was appointed as Professor of Indian Linguistics at Benaras Hindu University. In 1922 he was offered the first full-time Chair of Sanskrit in the University of London, at the newly founded School of Oriental Studies. He continued to serve the cause of scholarship as Professor and from 1937 until his retirement in 1957, as Director of the School.


Along with Jules Bloch he was the first scholar to apply the principles of the Junggrammatiker, which he had acquired at Cambridge, to the study of the modem IA languages. In accordance with this tradition his work is throughout characterised by exhaustive collection of material, meticulous attention to detail and rigorous analysis. Among the major works of scholarship produced both during his tenure of the Chair and after his retirement from the directorship of the School are his Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of the Nepali Language (1931) and A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages (1962-1966) with its supplementary volumes of Indexes (1969) [Indexes completed by Dorothy Rivers Turner] and a volume containing Phonetic Analysis of the Head-words in the Dictionary (1971).


During the First World War Turner served with the Queen Alexandra's Third Gurkha Rifles and acquired an abiding affection for the Nepali people and their language. This led to his great Nepali Dictionary, wherein he gave to the world for first time, with great scientific accuracy the comparative etymology of some 6000 Indo-Aryan words found in Nepali. His mastery of the different Indo-Aryan languages has also placed him in the position of editing the most exhaustive comparative etymological dictionary of Indo-Aryan languages. A review of his A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies with this remark :


'... a splendid reference source for the student of the languages of India (including the Dravidianist and Mundaist). It also opens up the treasures of one of the most richly attested language families to the practitioners of other linguistic fields. And, besides, we have in it the finest fruit of a distinguished scholarly career'.75


His Phonetic Analysis offered exhaustive lists of occurrences of particular sequences in the parent vocabulary.


'... the historical phonology of each dialect can thus be deduced, as far as this material permits, with maximum convenience and certainty. Few can have used the Dictionary since its appearance without feeling the need for a catalogue of phonetic and morphological phenomena such as is here provided.'76


The Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, published in honour of Turner, stated :


'In an age of dynamic change you have most worthily upheld the great tradition of a long line of British scholars, administrators, men who from Sir William Jones to Sir Grierson have studied the languages and life of India.-.. Building on the foundations of Sir Grierson's Linguistic Survey of India, searching the dictionaries and vocabularies of forty or fifty languages to discover parallels to your 26000 entries, your Dictionary gave for the first time in a scientifically accurate form the etymologies of an Indo-Aryan language as a whole. By so doing you elevated Nepali in the world of scholarship for ever since it has become the custom for scholars working on the etymology of modern Indo-Aryan languages/77


In recognition of the signal contributions which Turner had made towards Indian Linguistics by his many-sided researches and for the regeneration of linguistic studies through examples and leaching, the Linguistic Society of India elected him as one of its First I honorary Members.78 A special volume of Indian Linguistics was presented to Turner on the occasion of his seventieth birthday 'expressing their admiration and affection for him, both as a scholar and a teacher.’79


These scholars were the real gurus of the first generation of Indian linguists making their personal contributions to the development of Indo-Aryan linguistics. The result was that during the second decade of the century we have a series of attempts to trace the historical development of Indian languages.


The first half of the twentieth century may be regarded as the period of renaissance in the history of Indological studies. A general resurgence of the spirit of nationalism became evident in India in the first decade of the twentieth century. It was not merely a political movement; indeed it proved to be a veritable source of inspiration for the revival of the whole cultural life of this country on national basis. Indians began lo take special interest in the ancient history and culture of their mother-land. The work of first rate importance had been done in that field by many a worthy savant of the West. A gradual feeling crept over Indian scholars that they could till the soil which they owned more fruitfully than foreigners. They therefore applied themselves to Indic studies with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. This lime they approached these subjects neither with the blind faith of orthodox Indians nor with the disparaging altitude exhibited by some Europeans, but in a scientific spirit which they had acquired and assimilated, to a considerable extent, through western education. The work undertaken in the field of Indology during this period was thus the result of the labours of Indian as well as western scholars.


Mention may be made of some of these works.


Muhammad Shahidullah (1885-1969) was one of the early band of scholars who were trained in the newly developed science. After getting his M.A. in Comparative Philology he was appointed as a Research Assistant in Bengali Philology at the University of Calcutta in 1919. His first article in English, written as apart of his assignment as 'Sarat Kumar Lahiri Research Assistant in Bengali Philology', was published in 1920. The paper. Outlines of the Historical Grammar of the Bengali Language, was a compact introductory essay on the principles and application of Historical-Comparative Grammar, with special reference to the history and development of the Bengali personal pronouns. He was probably the first major linguist in India to work within the historical-comparative framework. The publication of this article in the Journal of the Department of Letters of the University of Calcutta placed him in the forefront among the leading linguists of his time. He obtained his Degree-D. Litt. with the mention Tres Honourable' from the University of Sorbonne in 1928 on his thesis, entitled, Les Chants Mystiques de Kanha et de Saraha. The Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies wrote :


"The whole work is careful and thorough and informed with a just linguistic theory, as might be expected from one who was a pupil of Jules Bloch..."


In 1926 Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890-1977) published his monumental work on The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language which made a further progress in Indian linguistics possible by including phonetics as part and parcel of a linguistician's equipment. He was the first scholar to trace the full history and development of the Bengali language following the pattern of his teacher Jules Bloch's Formation. Bloch commented :


'...the most important Indian contribution is Professor Chatterji's The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language, a book too well known for me to characterise it and give it here the praise it deserves.'80

Dhirendra Verma (1897-1978), an M.A. in Sanskrit from Muir Central College, Allahabad, did research on Brajabhasa under the supervision of Jules Bloch (La Langue Braj, Paris, 1935).


TrimbakJal N. Dave (1897- ) submitted his thesis — 'A Study of the Gujarati Language in the 16th Century (VS.), with special reference to the Ms. Balavabodha to Upadeśamālā' under the guidance of R. L. Turner for the Ph. D. Degree at the University of London in 1931. The Royal Asiatic Society and the James G. Forlong Fund proffered to give the work a permanent shape (London, 1935). The work dealt with the specimen of the Gujarati language as preserved in a single Ms. named Upadeśamālā-Balavabodha. It was the first old Gujarati text, grammatically analysed according to the modern historical method. He helped Turner for collecting Gujarati lexical data in connection with his monumental work. A Comparative Dictionary of Aido-Aryan Languages.


Baburam Saksena (1897- ) submitted his thesis, Evolution of Awadhi (a branch of Hindi), for the Degree of Letters of the University of Allahabad in 1931. His book Evolution of Awadhi, (1937) based on his thesis, is one of the most original, careful and scientific contributions in this field.81 Bloch wrote the encouraging foreward of his book :


'... for the first time, the historical treatment of an Indian language has been supported by a description carried out according to the graphic method.'82


Banikanta Kakati (1894-1952) established for the first time the individuality of Assamese, placing it in the proper perspective of its sister languages (Assamese : Its Formation and Development. Assam, 1941). He analysed the different sources from which Assamese has derived its vocabulary and formulated systematically the changes which the original words have undergone before assuming their present Assamese forms.


Sukumar Sen (1900-1992) was probably the last major linguist in India to work within the historical-comparative framework. His Bhāsār Itivrtta (1939) is the first book in Bengali on the historical evolution of the Bengali language, covering about 3500 years of the history of the Aryan languages. According to Chatterji, this book is 'one of the best short introductions to linguistics written in our country.'83 Etymology became his preferred area in the later years. His Etymological Dictionary of Bengali (Two Volumes, 1971) is probably the largest work on historical etymology of any Indian language.


Investigations have also been undertaken into the phonetic observations of the Indian spoken dialects by some scholars in close succession. The following studies of the phonetics of New Indo- Aryan languages may be mentioned in this connection :


Suniti Kumar Challerj i's keen interest in linguistic study was first exhibited in one of his papers on "Bengali Phonetics' published in the Modern Review in 1981.


H. S. Perera and Daniel Jones published A Colloquial Sinhalese Reader from the Manchester University Press in 1919.


Chatterji's earliest piece of significant research work, 'A Brief Sketch of Bengali Phonetics' was published in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies (Vol. A, Pt. 1, 1921) and also reprinted as a booklet for the International Phonetic Association. In 1928 A Bengali Phonetic Reader appeared from the University of London Press.


In 1928 Shahidullah made a study of the Bengali sounds with artificial palate through palatograms and kymographs. The dissertation on experimental phonetics, Les sons du Hengalie, was submitted to the Archive de la Parole, Sorbonne, Paris. He received a diploma in Phonetics from the University of Paris (1928). 'In this study entitled 'The Sounds of Bengali studied with an artificial palate' under the section entitled "My Personal Phonetic History' Shahidullah showed awareness of a marked distinction in his own speech and that of the Hindus around him.'84 According to him, their pronunciation differs only in the words taken from Arabic and Persian sources."86


Sayed Mohiuddin Qudri, Zore (1904-1963) of Hyderabad was the first Urdu scholar to take up the phonetic analysis of Urdu sounds in his treatise, entitled, Hindustani Phonetics (Hindustani of Hyderabad-Deccan) (Paris, 1930). He also wrote a book on linguistics for the first time in Urdu, entitled Hindustani Lisaniyat (1933).


Another valuable addition to the Indian contribution to phonetic studies was from Panjab by Banarasi Das Jain, entitled, A Phonology of Panjabi as spoken about in Ludhiana and A Ludhiana Phonetic Reader (University of Panjab, Lahore, 1934). The main lines of development of Panjabi sounds and their current phonetic values were determined for the first time with scientific precision.


Sumitra Mangesh Katre published his short study of Konkani Phonetics in the Journal of the Department of Letters, University of Calcutta, in 1934. This was followed by the serial publication of his Comparative Glossary of Konkani in Calcutta Oriental Journal during 1934-1935.


Siddheswar Varma (1887-1985) wrote 'The Phonetics of Lahnda1 in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1936.


Subhadra Jha published his 'Maithili Phonetics' in the Indian Linguistics in 1940-1941.


Naturally Indian scholarship found its proper field in the modern Indian languages. From these Indian scholars in whose hands Indian Linguistics, particularly with regard to New Indo-Aryan, took shape, we have received a number of monographs on specialised languages. They include Bengali, Eastern Panjabi, Awadhi, Brajabhasa, Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, some of the dialects of Kashmiri and a few more, which present before the world the first fruit of Indian scientific endeavour in this line. At the tenth All India Oriental Conference held at Tirupati on March 22. 1940, in his Presidential Address [Section of Non-Local Modern Indian Languages] S. K. Chatterji said :


The study of Modern Indian languages is gradually assuming an importance ...... The number of scientific workers in the field of Indian Modern languages is slowly on the increase. By 'scientific workers' we are to mean some such investigators as possess the right historical perspective and the correct sense of linguistic development combined with the ability to collect facts and to range them in their proper relation to each other. The scientific mind is the logical mind and the logical mind in linguistic investigation cannot ignore any of the various factors visible or invisible which affect language. Language is both a physiological and a psychological phenomenon and the physiological expression of language in its phonetics and phonology should form the basis of all linguistic study. This fact is gradually becoming more and more accepted by the new generation of workers and students in India..."86




1.            'Warren Hastings (Governor General, 1774-1785) founded the Calcutta Madrasa in 1781 and Lord Cornwallis (Governor General, 1786-1793) founded the Benaras Hindu College in 1792. The Calcutta Madrasa was instrumental in producing Muslim officers and maintained Arabic and Persian as mediums of instruction. The courses of study maintained in these institutions at that period were purely Oriental and Western learning was totally excluded from their curricula. In founding the Calcutta Madrasa. Warren Hastings, though acting in the interest of the British East India Company, indirectly helped the cause of Oriental study. The establishment of this Institution encouraged a number of European scholars, such as William Jones. Charles Wilkins and Henry Colebrook to become interested in Oriental learning. This growing interest resulted in the founding of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784 by William Jones who also became its first President.' Folklore and Nationalism in Rabindranath Tagore : A. S. Zahurul Haq, Bangla Academy, Dhaka 1981; p. 27.

2.            'The treatise consists of four parts, the first on the language, the second on philosophy, the third on historical ideas and finally translations of Indian literature; excerpts arc given from the Rāmāyaņa, the Laws of Manu and the Māhābhārata, including sections of the Bhagavat Gitā. It may be noted that in 1816 Bopp followed Schlegel in the practice of presenting translations.' Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics : W. P. Lehmann, 1993. Routledge Reprinted 1995.

3.            Ibid. p. 445.

4.            Ibid.

5.            Ibid.

6.            William Carey : Sahitya Sadhak Caritmāla, Part I; Bangiya Sahitya parishad; sixth edition, 1383 B.S..

7.            Ibid-  Kathopakathan was first printed at Serampore. After the second edition in 1806 it was combined with Carey's Bengali Grammar in 1818.

8.            Suniti Kumar Chatterji's Forwarding Note to John Beames' Outlines of Indian Philology: Indian Studies : Past and Present; Editor: Debiprasad Chatterjee, 1960.

9.            Ibid.

10.           A Comparative Grammar of the Modern Aryan Languages of India: John Beames; Vol. I ; London 1872 ; p. 2

11.           Outlines of Indian philology: with a Map showing the Distribution of Indian Languages; Calcutta 1867 : Second Edition 1868.

12.           A Comparative Grammar of the Modem Aryan Languages of India; Op. Cit; Preface, p. VAI.

13.           Suniti Kumar Chatterji's Forwarding note to John Beames' Outlines of Indian Philology : Op.cit.

14.           Some problems of Historical Linguistics in Indo-Aryan : S. M. Katre ; p.3.

15.           John Beames : George Abraham Grierson : Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1902 : pp. 722-725. Reprinted in Outlines of Indian Philology and Other Philological Papers : John Beames : Indian Studies : Past and Present ; Editor ; Debiprasad Chatterjee, 1960.

16.           Wilson Philological Lectures : R. G. Bhandarkar; Preface

17.           Collected works : R- G. Bhandarkar ; Vol. IV

18.           Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar : As an Indologist: A. M. Ghatage : Indo-Aryan Linguistics ; R. N. Dandekar (ed.), Poona. 1976; p. 148.

19.           Ibid

20.           Calcutta Review, September, 1925.

21.           Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1925. Published by the Society, London; p. 817.

22.           Ibid.

23.           Calcutta Review, September 1925.

24.           Ibid.

25.           Wilson Philological Lectures : R. G. Bandarkar ; p. 6

26.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental studies, London Institution, vol. 11

27.           'Apart from research institutes ... there also grew, in this period, what was very necessary, a common forum for the research scholars, in the form of societies or conferences in which members functioning in different regional institutions periodically met at a pan-Indian conference for reading and disusing original papers, surveying the progress in their respective field and considering plans and proposals for further development. The beginnings of such a conference in the Indological field go to the Simla Conference of 1911.' Indological Studies in India : Venkatarama Raghavan : Rabindranath Tagore : A Centenary Volume (1861-1961): Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1961; p. 440.

28-29.        Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, Vol. A.

30.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, London Institution, Vol 1 ; 1917-1920.

31.           Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century : Holger Pederson (tr. John Webster Spargo) ; p. 127.

32.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, London Instituion, Vol. VAI; 1935-1937. Reprinted from the Indian Antiquary, Volumes LX, LXI, LXAI (1931-1933).

33.           Ibid.

34.           Ibid.

35.           The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language; Suniti Kumar Chatterji, Rupa & Co. 1985. Preface ; p. XVI.

36.           Karl Bmgmann was recognised as the greatest of the new generation of philologists. He planned to complete the vast Grundriss der verglei chenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen, in five volumes. The first volume appeared in 1889. The last three were in association with Delhruck and dealt with Comparative Syntax.

37.           The Origin and Development of the Bengali Language : Op. cit.

38.           Bharati, Paus 1305 B. S.

39.           Mr. Rabindranath Tagore's Notes on Bengali Grammar : J. D. Anderson : Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society ; 1913 ; p. 542

40.           Ibid.

41.           A Centenary Volume : Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1961); Sahitya Akademi ;New Delhi. 1961 ; p. 125.

42.           Ibid.

43.           Ibid, p. 126.

44.           Ibid.

45.           Ibid, p. 123.

46.           The objects for which the Association is established are : a) The cultivation, encouragement, and improvement of the Bengali language and literature by the following and if and when necessary by other means, namely, 1) the compilation and publication of a Grammar and a Dictionary of the Bengali language, 2) the compilation, coinage and publication of scientific, philosophical and other technical terms in Bengali, 3) the collection, acquisition and publication of old Bengali manuscripts, 4) the translation into Bengali of standard books and publications in other languages and the publication of such translations. 5) the study and  cultivation of philosophy, history, science, poetry and all other forms of literature and the publication of useful books and pamphlets thereon and 6) the publication of a periodical journal in Bengali lobe entitled The Sahitya Parishad Patrika'. (Parishad Paricay, Kartik, 1346 B.S.. p. 36)

47.           Calcutta University Development of Post-Graduate Studies in Arts and Letters in the University of Calcutta (1907-1948). Calcutta University Press.

48.           C. U. Minutes, 1913.

49.           Two Lectures on Linguistics : S. M. Katre; K.. M. Institute of Hindi Studies and Linguistics ; Agra University, Agra, 1959 ; p. 7.

50.           C. U. Minutes, 1913 ; p. 2611.

51.           Hundred Years of the University of Calcutta ; Vol. A ; Op. cit. p. 165.

52.           'He was my Professor in Sanskrit at Cambridge. He made me read through Whitney's Sanskrit Grammar from cover to cover'. Elements of the Science of Language : I. J. S. Taraporewala ; Op. cit ; p. 474.

53.           'He was my own guru and initiator in the science of Linguistics and it is to him in the first place that I owe my knowledge of and training in the subject.' : Ibid, p.203.

54.           'I used to attend his classes in Persian and Arabic'. Ibid, p. 484.

55.           'He was my revered guru at the University of Wurzburg'. Ibid, p. 462.

56.           'He was my own revered guru of Iranian Languages at Heidelberg. As teacher he was the best 1 ever had...' Ibid, p. 482.

57.           Indian Linguistics, 1957.

58.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, London Institution ; Vol. VAI ; 1935-1937 ; p. 221.

59.           Die Altindisehen Absolutiva, Besonders im Rgveda, Aitareya und satapatha Brahmana; Fin Beilrag Zur Altandischen Syntax: P. D. Gune; Ph.d. Thesis, University of Leipzig, 191.1

60.           Introduction to Comparative Philology : P. D. Gune ; 1918. Introduction.

61.           Hundred Years of the University of Calcutta, Vol. 11 Op.cit., p. 165.

62.           C. U. Minutes, 1919.

63.           Elements of the Science of Language, Op. cit, p. 519.

64.           Outlines of the Historical Grammar of the Bengali Language : Md. Shahidullah; Journal of the Department of Letters, University of Calcutta, 1920.

65.           C. U. Minutes, 1939.

66.           Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1932 ; p. 445.

67.           Ibid. p. 446.

68.           Indian Linguistics. 1939.

69.           Some Problems of Historical Linguistics in Indo-Aryan: S. M. Katre ; p. 6.

70.           Bloch's Formation was 'first issued in 1914, but in incomplete form owing to the exigencies of the European war. In the present edition, dated 1920, comprising 430 pages, the 'index etymologique' of the words quoted in the body of the work has been published in extenso'. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, Vol. 1,1917-1920 ; p. 168.

71.           In Memoriam of Professor Jules Bloch (1880-1953) :Suniti Kumar Chatterji: Indian Linguistics, 1954 ; p. 148.

72.           Collected Papers (1912-1973) : R. L. Turner ; Cambridge, 1973.

73.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental studies, Vol. V 1928-1930 p. 719.

74.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental studies, Vol. VAI ; 1935-1937.

75.           Collected Papers (1912-1973) : R. L. Turner ; Op. cit.

76.           Ibid.

77.           Bulletin of the School of Oriental and Africal Studies, Vol XX 1957.

78.           Indian Linguistics, 1958.

79.           Ibid.

80-81.      Evolution of Awadhi   :   Baburam  Saksena. University of Allahabad 1937; Forewarding Note by Jules Bloch.

82.           Assamese: Its Formation and Development: A Scientific Treatise on the History and Philology of the Assamese Language : B. Kakati, Assam, 1941. Preface to First Edition.

83.           Linguistics in India : S. K. Chatterji : Progress of Indic Studies (1917-1942) : ed. R. N. Dandekar, Poona, 1942; p. 329.

84-85.      The Hindu and Muslim Dialects of Bengali: Alia Dil, Ph. D. Dissertation, Stanford University 1972.

86.           Indian Linguistics, Vol. VA, 1939.