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Thread: History of language

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    The Lone Ranger Lieutenant General rishabhd's Avatar
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    Default History of language

    Words on the brain: from 1 million years ago?

    All social animals communicate with each other, from bees and ants to whales and apes, but only humans have developed a language which is more than a set of prearranged signals.

    Our speech even differs in a physical way from the communication of other animals. It comes from a cortical speech centre which does not respond instinctively, but organises sound and meaning on a rational basis. This section of the brain is unique to humans.


    When and how the special talent of language developed is impossible to say. But it is generally assumed that its evolution must have been a long process.

    Our ancestors were probably speaking a million years ago, but with a slower delivery, a smaller vocabulary and above all a simpler grammar than we are accustomed to.


    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 09:53 AM.
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    Origins of language

    The origins of human language will perhaps remain for ever obscure. By contrast the origin of individual languages has been the subject of very precise study over the past two centuries.

    There are about 5000 languages spoken in the world today (a third of them in Africa), but scholars group them together into relatively few families - probably less than twenty. Languages are linked to each other by shared words or sounds or grammatical constructions. The theory is that the members of each linguistic group have descended from one language, a common ancestor. In many cases that original language is judged by the experts to have been spoken in surprisingly recent times - as little as a few thousand years ago.


    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 09:55 AM.
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    Linguistic groups: from 3000 BC

    The most widespread group of languages today is the Indo-European, spoken by half the world's population. This entire group, ranging from Hindi and Persian to Norwegian and English, is believed to descend from the language of a tribe of nomads roaming the plains of eastern Europe and western Asia (in modern terms centring on the Ukraine) as recently as about 3000 BC.

    From about 2000 BC people speaking Indo-European languages begin to spread through Europe, eventually reaching the Atlantic coast and the northern shores of the Mediterranean. They also penetrate far into Asia - occupying the Iranian plateau and much of India

    Another linguistic group, of significance in the early history of west Asia and still of great importance today, is the Semitic family of languages. These also are believed to derive from the language of just one tribal group, possibly nomads in southern Arabia.

    By about 3000 BC Semitic languages are spoken over a large tract of desert territory from southern Arabia to the north of Syria. Several Semitic peoples play a prominent part in the early civilization of the region, from the Babylonians and Assyrians to the Hebrews and Phoenicians. And one Semitic language, Aramaic, becomes for a while the lingua franca of the Middle East.



    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 09:56 AM.
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    Language and race

    A shared linguistic family does not imply any racial link, though in modern times this distinction has often been blurred. Within the Indo-European family, for example, there is a smaller Indo-Iranian group of languages, also known as Aryan, which are spoken from Persia to India. In keeping with a totally unfounded racist theory of the late 19th century, the Nazis chose the term Aryan to identify a blond master race. Blond or not, the Aryans are essentially a linguistic rather than a genetic family.

    The same is true of the Semitic family, including two groups which have played a major part in human history - the Jews and the Arabs.


    Enclaves of language

    On a linguistic map of the world, most of the great language families occupy one distinct and self-contained territory. The two exceptions are the Indo-European and the Finno-Ugric groups.

    In modern times the Indo-European languages have spread across the globe - to North and South America, Australia and New Zealand - as a result of European colonialism. But the intermingling of Indo-European and Finno-Ugric, forming a patchwork quilt across Europe, has come about for a different and earlier reason

    Finland, together with Estonia on the opposite shore of the Baltic, forms one isolated pocket of the Finno-Ugric group (the Finno part). Hungary is another (the Ugric element).

    The cause of this wide separation is the great plateau of Europe which Finno-Ugric and Indo-European tribes have shared and fought over through the centuries. The ancestral language of the Finns, Estonians and Hungarians was once spoken in a compact region between the Baltic and the Ural mountains, until these people were scattered by Indo-European pressure


    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 09:58 AM.
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    Latin and German: from the 5th century AD

    Over the course of history languages continually infiltrate each other, as words are spread by conquest, empire, trade, religion, technology or - in modern times - global entertainment.

    A good surviving example of this process is the line in western Europe dividing the Romance languages (those deriving from a 'Roman' example) from the Germanic tongues. The Romance family includes Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian (the result of a successful Roman campaign in the 2nd century AD). The Germanic group is English, Dutch, Flemish, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic

    This linguistic division exactly reflects the influence of the Roman empire. Italy, France and the peninsula of Spain were sufficiently stable regions in the Roman world to retain the influence of Latin after the collapse of the empire. The Germanic areas east and north of the Rhine were never fully brought under Roman control (the exact linguistic dividing line survives in modern Belgium, with its population speaking French in the south and Flemish in the north).

    England was safely within the empire for three centuries. But the Romanized Celts were not strong enough to resist the invading German tribes, the Angles and the Saxons. Their languages prevailed in the form of Anglo-Saxon.


    Modern English occupies a middle position within the western European family of languages, with its vocabulary approximately half Germanic and half Romance in origin.

    The reason is not Britannia's relatively fragile position within the Roman empire. The cause is more recent, in the Norman conquest. After seizing northwest France and adopting the local language, the Normans arrive in England with French as an essential part of their cultural baggage. Several centuries of rule by Norman aristocrats and bureaucrats bring Latin words back into the language of England through the medium of medieval French.

    Linguistic evolution

    The ongoing struggle between languages is a process very similar to evolution. A word, like a gene, will travel and prevail according to its usefulness. A word's fitness to survive may derive from being attached to a desirable new invention or substance, or simply from being an amusing or useful concept.

    'Aspirin', coined in 1899 by its German inventor from the opening letters of Acetylirte Spirsäure (acetylated spiraeic acid), immediately became an international word. In a less serious context 'snob', first given its present meaning in English in the mid-19th century, is now naturalized in a great many languages.


    As with evolution, the development of language is an irresistible force - though traditionalists invariably attempt to build barriers against change. The useful word 'hopefully' (long available to Germans as hoffentlich, and meaning 'it is to be hoped that') has in recent years been steamrollered into the English language by the public against howls of protest from the purists.

    On a grander scale, the French government from time to time legislates ineffectually against English words straying into French. These are the hybrids described as franglais. A good example of their impertinence is the enticing notice on a tweed jacket seen in a Parisian shop window: Très snob, presque cad (very snob, almost cad).


    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 09:58 AM.
    Wo Acha Hay Tou Behtar, Bura Hay Tou Bhi Qabool
    Mizaaj-E-Ishq Mein Aib-O-Hunar Dekhe Nahi Jatay...!!!


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    Imperial tongues

    The French neurosis about being tainted by English (though the intrusion is trivial compared to the overwhelming effect of Norman French on English in the past) is linked to a wider aspect of the evolutionary struggle between languages.

    A major advance for any language is to become a lingua franca. Almost invariably the result of power and prestige, this status is achieved by French after the heyday of France's international influence under Louis XIV. In more recent times English - first through the British empire, but more significantly through American world dominance in the 20th century - has replaced French in this role.

    English in the late 20th century is in the fortunate position of being the lingua franca at an unusual moment. For the first time in history a global language is needed for practical purposes (by scientists, by airline pilots). Meanwhile a communication system is in place to spread some knowlege of the English language to a mass international audience through radio, television and the internet.

    The imperial power underpinning American English as a lingua franca is for the first time cultural and economic rather than military.

    The pattern of history insists that English is not likely to be the world's final lingua franca. Others will come and go. It is also true to say that the predominance of English depends on its spread rather than the total number speaking it.

    Chinese is spoken by more people than English (albeit in only one region of the world), and Chinese economic power lies in the future. But the complexity of Chinese perhaps makes it an unlikely rival candidate. One of the great advantages of English is that it is easy to speak at a simple level, though immensely complex in its idiom.

    New languages from old

    Meanwhile the evolutionary processes go on. Already there are many varieties of English in use. The pidgin English flourishing in New Guinea is baffling to an outsider; originally devised as a practical business language, reduced to its simplest elements, it has evolved its own rich character. In the same way English-speaking communities in the West Indies or in India (not to mention America) have developed local words, phrases and constructions which give their own version of the language a special colour.

    The astonishing proliferation of Indo-European languages from one tongue, just 5000 years ago, will not be repeated in our more interconnected world. But the tendency of language to evolve continues unchecked.



    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 09:59 AM.
    Wo Acha Hay Tou Behtar, Bura Hay Tou Bhi Qabool
    Mizaaj-E-Ishq Mein Aib-O-Hunar Dekhe Nahi Jatay...!!!


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    Artificial languages

    Constructed languages

    Some individuals and groups have constructed their own artificial languages, for practical, experimental, personal, or ideological reasons. International auxiliary languages are generally constructed languages that strive to be easier to learn than natural languages; other constructed languages strive to be more logical ("loglangs") than natural languages; a prominent example of this is Lojban.

    Some writers, such as J. R. R. Tolkien, have created fantasy languages, for literary, artistic or personal reasons. The fantasy language of the Klingon race has in recent years been developed by fans of the Star Trek series, including a vocabulary and grammar.
    Constructed languages are not necessarily restricted to the properties shared by natural languages.

    This part of ISO 639 also includes identifiers that denote constructed (or artificial) languages. In order to qualify for inclusion the language must have a literature and it must be designed for the purpose of human communication. Specifically excluded are reconstructed languages and computer programming languages.

    International auxiliary languages

    Some languages, most constructed, are meant specifically for communication between people of different nationalities or language groups as an easy-to-learn second language. Several of these languages have been constructed by individuals or groups. Natural, pre-existing languages may also be used in this way - their developers merely catalogued and standardized their vocabulary and identified their grammatical rules. These languages are called naturalistic. One such language, Latino Sine Flexione, is a simplified form of Latin. Two others, Occidental and Novial, were drawn from several Western languages.
    To date, the most successful auxiliary language is Esperanto, invented by Polish ophthalmologist Zamenhof. It has a relatively large community roughly estimated at about 2 million speakers worldwide, with a large body of literature, songs, and is the only known constructed language to have native speakers, such as the Hungarian-born American businessman George Soros. Other auxiliary languages with a relatively large number of speakers and literature are Interlingua and Ido.


    Controlled languages

    Controlled natural languages are subsets of natural languages whose grammars and dictionaries have been restricted in order to reduce or eliminate both ambiguity and complexity. The purpose behind the development and implementation of a controlled natural language typically is to aid non-native speakers of a natural language in understanding it, or to ease computer processing of a natural language. An example of a widely used controlled natural language is Simplified English, which was originally developed for aerospace industry maintenance manuals.


    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 10:00 AM.
    Wo Acha Hay Tou Behtar, Bura Hay Tou Bhi Qabool
    Mizaaj-E-Ishq Mein Aib-O-Hunar Dekhe Nahi Jatay...!!!


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    ẄÎT'h ŪŇĨVĚŘŞĂĻ FŁĂŴŠ" Lieutenant-Colonel rishii's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing it was very much necessary to know this kinds of history which is been used by us daily and with every human being
    In this Life Time or the Next.....
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    First Written Language


    For a long time, people thought that the practice of writing began in ancient Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C.E. This land, along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is what is now modern Iraq.

    Early Mesopotamian writing was found in trade, business and farm records which have led many to believe for a long time that this is where the written word originated. Along with this belief, it has also been thought that since Mesopotamia traded extensively with ancient Egyptian and ancient Indian civilizations that the idea of writing could have spread to these other cultures.


    Recent discoveries, however, are undermining ancient Mesopotamia’s status as the origin of writing. In 1998, a German archaeologist discovered writing at the tomb of King Scorpion the First in Abydos, near Luxor, in Egypt. He says that this writing dates back to 3400 B.C., a few hundred years before the earliest known Mesopotamian writing. The writing was discovered both on pottery and clay tablets. In 1999, American archaeologists digging at the ancient site of Harappa in Pakistan discovered what they say is writing that dates back to around 3500 B.C. Harappa was at that time a major city in the ancient Indus Valley civilization which dominated western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. While both early Mesopotamian and Egyptian writing is clearly related to trade, the ancient Indus script has still not been deciphered.
    While neither the ancient Egyptian nor Indus discoveries conclusively prove that one civilization can claim to have invented writing, these discoveries suggest that writing developed simultaneously and perhaps independently in a number of places. Indeed, it might well be that even earlier forms of writing are found in the coming decades. We are finding that the earliest cities may have developed thousands of years before these writing specimens. Because writing seems so closely tied to the rise of trade and human settlement, it is quite possible that many new discoveries await archaeologists searching for the origin of this most critical of human skills.









    1900-1800 B.C. --- An Assyrian tablet inscribed with a letter from merchants threatening legal action for overdue accounts
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    thanks for shairing dear

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    History of early writing

    The writing process evolved from economic necessity in the ancient near east. Archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat determined the link between previously uncategorized clay "tokens" and the first known writing, cuneiform. The clay tokens were used to represent commodities, and perhaps even units of time spent in labor, and their number and type became more complex as civilization advanced. A degree of complexity was reached when over a hundred different kinds of tokens had to be accounted for, and tokens were wrapped and fired in clay, with markings to indicate the kind of tokens inside. These markings soon replaced the tokens themselves, and the clay envelopes were demonstrably the prototype for clay writing tablets.


    Mesopotamia

    The original Mesopotamian writing system was derived from this method of keeping accounts, and by the end of the 4th millennium BC,this had evolved into using a triangular-shaped stylus pressed into soft clay for recording numbers. This was gradually augmented with pictographic writing using a sharp stylus to indicate what was being counted. Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing was gradually replaced by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform), at first only for logograms, but evolved to include phonetic elements by the 29th century BC. Around the 26th century BC, cuneiform began to represent syllables of spoken Sumerian. Also in that period, cuneiform writing became a general purpose writing system for logograms, syllables, and numbers, and this script was adapted to another Mesopotamian language, Akkadian, and from there to others such as Hurrian, and Hittite. Scripts similar in appearance to this writing system include those for Ugaritic and Old Persian.


    China

    In China historians have found out a lot about the early Chinese dynasties from the written documents left behind. From the Shang Dynasty most of this writing has survived on bones or bronze implements. Markings on turtle shells (used as oracle bones) have been carbon-dated to around 1500 BC. Historians have found that the type of media used had an effect on what the writing was documenting and how it was used.

    There have recently been discoveries of tortoise-shell carvings dating back to c. 6000 BC, but whether or not the carvings are of sufficient complexity to qualify as writing is under debate. If it is deemed to be a written language, writing in China will predate Mesopotamian cuneiform, long acknowledged as the first appearance of writing, by some 2000 years.


    Egypt

    The earliest known hieroglyphic inscriptions are the Narmer Palette, dating to c.3200 BC, and several recent discoveries that may be slightly older, though the glyphs were based on a much older artistic tradition. The hieroglyphic script was logographic with phonetic adjuncts that included an effective alphabet.

    Writing was very important in maintaining the Egyptian empire, and literacy was concentrated among an educated elite of scribes. Only people from certain backgrounds were allowed to train to become scribes, in the service of temple, pharaonic, and military authorities. The hieroglyph system was always difficult to learn, but in later centuries was purposely made even more so, as this preserved the scribes' status.

    The world's oldest known alphabet was developed in central Egypt around 2000 BC from a hieroglyphic prototype, and over the next 500 years spread to Canaan and eventually to the rest of the world.


    Indus Valley


    Indus script refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Indus Valley Civilization used between 2600–1900 BC. In spite of many attempts at decipherments and claims, it is as yet undeciphered. The script generally refers to that used in the mature Harappan phase, which perhaps evolved from a few signs found in early Harappa after 3500 BC, and was followed by the mature Harappan script. The script is written from right to left,and sometimes follows a boustrophedonic style. Since the number of principal signs is about 400-600, midway between typical logographic and syllabic scripts, many scholars accept the script to be logo-syllabic(typically syllabic scripts have about 50-100 signs whereas logographic scripts have a very large number of principal signs). Several scholars maintain that structural analysis indicates an agglutinative language underlies the script. However, this is contradicted by the occurrence of signs supposedly representing suffixes at the beginning or middle of words.


    Turkmenistan

    Archaeologists have recently discovered that there was a civilization in Central Asia using writing 4,000 years ago. An excavation near Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, revealed an inscription on a piece of stone that was used as a stamp seal.


    The Tifinagh script (Berber languages) is descended from the Libyco-Berber script which is assumed to be of Phoenician origin.


    Mesoamerica

    A stone slab with 3,000-year-old writing was discovered in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and is an example of the oldest script in the Western Hemisphere preceding the oldest Zapotec writing dated to about 500 BC. It is thought to be Olmec.

    Of several pre-Columbian scripts in Mesoamerica, the one that appears to have been best developed, and the only one to be deciphered, is the Maya script. The earliest inscriptions which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BC, and writing was in continuous use until shortly after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century AD. Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs, somewhat similar in function to modern Japanese writing.




    Last edited by rishabhd; 11-11-2009 at 10:17 AM.
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    How many types of languages - spoken in the world today

    Linguists estimate that there are about 5,000-6,000 different languages spoken in the world today. The imprecision in this estimate is largely due to the fact that some dialects are in the process of diverging and it is not clear that they have reached the stage of being separate languages. If two people find each other's speech unintelligible, they are usually thought to be speaking different languages rather than dialects.

    There are about 200 languages that have a million or more native speakers. Mandarin Chinese click this icon to hear the preceding term pronounced is the most common, being spoken by around 874,000,000 people as a native language. English is a distant third with approximately 341,000,000 native speakers.

    English is far more world wide in its distribution than all other spoken languages. It is an official language in 52 countries as well as many small colonies and territories. In addition, 1/4 to 1/3 of the people in the world understand and speak English to some degree. It has become the most useful language to learn for international travel and is now the de facto language of diplomacy. In 2001, the 189 member countries in the United Nations were asked what language they wish to use for communication with embassies from other countries. More than 120 chose English, 40 selected French, and 20 wanted to use Spanish. Those who wanted English to be the common language included all of the former Soviet republics, Viet Nam, and most of the Arab world. English is also the dominant language in electronic communication. About 75% of the world's mail, telexes, and cables are in English. Approximately 60% of the world's radio programs are in English. About 90% of all Internet traffic is as well. However, the percentage of Internet users who are not native English speakers is increasing rapidly, especially in Asia.

    In reality, the distribution of languages globally is very complex and difficult to easily describe. Numerous migrations of people over the last several centuries have resulted in most large nations now having many different languages. There are at least 165 languages spoken in the United States today. Consequently, it is somewhat misleading to describe the U.S. as being an English speaking country. The same caution applies to other multicultural nations as well.

    Some parts of the world have unusually high concentrations of different languages. There are around 900 native languages spoken by the 5-10 million people of New Guinea click this icon to hear the preceding term pronounced and its neighboring islands. That is roughly 1/6 of all languages being spoken by far less than 1% of the world's people. Other language high density areas have been native California and the Caucasus Mountains north of Turkey and Iran.

    The majority of the languages in the world are unwritten and many of them are disappearing. About 1/2 of the world's languages are no longer spoken by children. This is the first step in the extinction of a language. About 2,000 languages now have less than 1,000 speakers. The most threatened are the indigenous languages of Australia and the Americas. By the end of the 20th century, about 200 Australian languages survived, but more than 1/2 had less than 10 speakers. Two dozen had a single elderly speaker. Young Aborigines now predominantly speak English, especially in urban areas. There has been a similar pattern in California where Indian languages disappeared at the rate of nearly one a year during the late 20th century.

    There are no "primitive" languages. All languages have a system of sounds, words, and sentences that can adequately communicate the content of culture. The languages of the so-called "primitive" peoples are often very complex in their grammatical structures. There seems to be no correlation between a language's grammatical complexity and the technological level of a society or other aspects of culture. However, cultures that have more complex, diverse economies and advanced technologies have larger vocabularies. For instance, English has roughly 615,000 non-technical words. If slang and specialized technical words are added, English has more than 2,000,000 words and is growing at a rate of hundreds to thousands every year. By comparison, German has about 185,000 non-technical words, French may have less than 100,000, and Spanish even fewer. The major reason that English has so many more non-technical words is the fact that as it evolved from its Germanic roots, it acquired words from more than 240 other languages. However, it is unlikely that any one individual knows the meaning of all English words. Most Americans only use 800-1,000 words in everyday conversation. A typical American college student knows 20,000-30,000 words by the time he or she graduates. While this is 20-37 times more than the average person who has not gone to college, it is still less than 2% of all English words.






    Wo Acha Hay Tou Behtar, Bura Hay Tou Bhi Qabool
    Mizaaj-E-Ishq Mein Aib-O-Hunar Dekhe Nahi Jatay...!!!


  13. #13
    ẄÎT'h ŪŇĨVĚŘŞĂĻ FŁĂŴŠ" Lieutenant-Colonel rishii's Avatar
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    Very easily explained
    In this Life Time or the Next.....
    We will Be together

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    The Lone Ranger Lieutenant General rishabhd's Avatar
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    Sanskrit (saṃskṛtā; meaning 'perfected', 'refined', or 'polished')

    is the ancient sacred language of India. An official language of India, it is believed to be the oldest language of the world. There are still hundreds of millions of people who use Sanskrit in their daily lives, but despite these numbers, its cultural worth is unsurpassed.

    The origin of Sanskrit can be accredited to the Vedic society. Vedic Sanskrit is believed to date back to the 2nd millennium BC, when knowledge was handed down through the generations verbally.

    Mystic traditions of India ascribe a wholly sacred origin to the language, describing it as the language of the gods. When westerners began to take serious interest in the language some two hundred years ago, Sir William Jones, a British judge and orientalist, noted that Sanskrit possessed vocabulary and grammatical structures very similar to many other languages, including Greek, Latin, and even English. This discovery gave rise to the study of comparative linguistics, which groups the languages of the world into families. Sanskrit, along with about half of the world's languages, is a member of the Indo-European language family. This family has many branches and sub-divisions. Linguists place Sanskrit among the Indic languages of the Indo-Iranian branch. What common source may have given rise to this wide variety of related languages is entirely hidden by the mists of time. By 400BC a Hindu Indian grammarian by the name of Pāṇini had formally recorded rules of Sanskrit grammar. This is known as the Ashtadhyayi (Aṣṭādhyāyī).

    The Ashtadhyayi consists of eight chapters, each divided into four sections, or ‘padas’. It characterises the difference between the language of the sacred texts and that of common street language. 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology have been set out, much in the way of a mathematical function, to define the basic elements of the language including sentence structure, vowels, consonants, nouns, and verbs. Pāṇini’s work is still used in the teaching of Sanskrit today.

    Classical Sanskrit, as opposed to its more archaic ancestor Vedic Sanskrit, was in its height in the centuries AD. From it came a vast body of philosophical, scientific and religious knowledge, as well as Hindu scriptures and classical literature. These include works such as the Gita and Ramayana.
    The Vedic Sanskrit is to Classical Sanskrit as Chaucer's English is to Shakespeare's English.



    Wo Acha Hay Tou Behtar, Bura Hay Tou Bhi Qabool
    Mizaaj-E-Ishq Mein Aib-O-Hunar Dekhe Nahi Jatay...!!!


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    SB MahaGuru Colonel deSi_CasaNovA's Avatar
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    Nice Work buddy
    tfs

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