Query on scope & membership

Tue Jun 1 09:09:33 UTC 1999

VYAKARAN: South Asian Languages and Linguistics Net
Editors:  Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York
          John Peterson, University of Munich, Germany
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Archives: http://listserv.syr.edu

In response to Michael's letter:
>Many of us have been dissatisfied with the type of discussion we seen in
>the by now almost 10 years old INDOLOGY list: too much casteism,
>nationalism,  Aryan/Dravidian=North/South problems, simple traditionalism,
>-- and certainly too much useless input by 1st generation immigrant
>computer engeneers, etc. who do not know a thing about linguistics,
>philology etc.
>So why not shift *that* part of our discussions to VYAKARAN?
>If the listowners agree to widen the field form pure grammar and
>linguistics to Philology in general, understood as "the study of
>Indo-Iranian,South Asian civilizations based on their texts."

In my opinion, there are absolutely no arguments against 'philological'
discussions on VYAKARAN, at least as long as these discussions pertain in
some manner to the study of South Asian languages. In fact, as an Old and
Middle Indo-Aryan afficionado, I can only support it whole-heartedly and I
had intended the list to deal with philology as well when I started it back
in 1996. The field of linguistics is certainly broad enough to cover all
these topics, at least in my view, not just GB, RRG and the like. The
emphasis was never intended to be solely on the modern languages, although
it is nice to have a place where things like Munda and Tibeto-Burman, or
Nepali and Kodava can be discussed without feeling out of place. But of
course, the history of the Pali canon (to take just one example), is also
relevant, as long as the topic is ultimately concerned with the Pali
language, Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, or the like.

The only thing I would warn against is "side-tracking" the list too much to
have it become a substitute for INDOLOGY in general. In other words, I think
we should remain a list devoted to ALL (and I do mean ALL) aspects of South
Asian linguistics and languages, else we too will run the risk of slowly
becoming a non-academic list. Of course there's a *fuzzy* boundary between
this and cultural history in general. But I think there should still be at
least a general requirement that the list be devoted to South Asian

There's also another reason I think we should keep the emphasis on language.
There are already a number of other lists out there on South Asian culture,
history, languages, etc., and I was weary in the beginning of adding yet
another since there aren't all that many of us out there who specialize in
these areas. Since then, two other lists have appeared and, apparently, also
disappeared. If we're not careful, all these lists may simply become
interchangeable and people will either start sending ALL of their messages
to ALL lists, or simply give the smaller ones up and go back to one single
list. Then we'll be right back where we started.

Otherwise, perhaps this topic should be dealt with on INDOLOGY by those of
you out there who are members (I quit the list for just these reasons back
during one of the many heated debates about the relation of Indo-Aryan to
Dravidian). Or perhaps start yet another list, but one with closed
registration which is devoted to just the topics Michael is talking about.
I'd be the first to join!

Like I said, this is just my personal view of things and is what I had
originally intended for the list anyway. I'd be interested in hearing from
others out there.

John Peterson
Cross-Linguistic Reference Grammar
Institute for Theoretical Linguistics
Department of German Studies
Schellingstr. 3
D-80179 Munich
email: John.Peterson at germanistik.uni-muenchen.de

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