Linguistics, Psycholinguistics and Semantics

Language, in other words the storehouse of all human Knowledge is represented by words and meanings. Language by itself has an Ontological structure, Epistemological underpinnings and Grammar. Across languages, even though words /usages differ, the concept of meanings remain the same in respective communications. Yet the "Meanings" are understood by human beings based on Contextual, Relative, Tonal and Gestural basis. The dictionary meanings or 'as it is' meanings are taken rarely into consideration, thus human language is ambigious in one sense and flexible in other.

Computers on the other hand are hard-coded to go by the dictionary meanings. Thus teaching (programming) Computers to understand natural language (human language) has been the biggest challange haunting Scientists ever since the idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI) came into existance. In addition this has lead to the obvious question of "What is intelligence" from a Computation perspective. Defining intelligence precisely being impossible, this field of study has taken many shapes such as Computational Linguistics, Natural Language Processing and "
Machine Learning" etc. Artificial Intelligence instead of being used as a blanket term, is now being used increasingly as "Analytics" in many critical applications.

Sanskrit being the oldest is also the most Scientific and Structured language. Sanskrit has many hidden Algorithms built into it as part of its vast scientific treatises, for analysing "Meanings" or "Word sense" from many perspectives since time immemorial. "It is perhaps our job to discover and convert the scientific methods inherent in Sanskrit into usable Computational models and Tools for Natural Language Processing rather than reinventing the wheel" - as some Scientists put it. This blog's purpose is to expose some of the hidden intricate tools and methodolgies used in Sanskrit for centuries to derive precise meanings of human language, to a larger audiance particularly Computational Linguists for futher study, analysis and deployment in Natural Language Processing.

In addition, Sanskrit even though being flexible as a human language, is the least ambigious as the structure of the language is precisely difined from a semantical and syntactical point of view. From a Psycholinguistic perspective this blog could also give us a glimpse of the advanced linguistic capabilities of our forefathers as well their highly disciplined approach towards the structure and usage.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mordern Linguistic Terms and their Sanskrit equivalents

This table is to give a short understanding of the Sanskrit equivalents for the popular Linguistics Terms for non-Sanskrit Linguists. Contains both applied and non-applied linguistics references - more to come

Linguistics Term (Subsystem)
Sanskrit equivalent and  references
Phoneme (sound)
Lemma (psycholinguistics)
Abstract idea
Sphota - Vakyapadiya
Pashyanti (vision /flash)
Mental image of a meaning
Madhyama (thought /medium)
Sound (meaningful)
Vaikari (uttered)
Word (Lexicon)
Verbalized /meaningful
Literal Meanings and Synonyms
Padam Many subdivisions depending on action, tense, mood, gender, etc.
Word creation /derivation (morphology)
Root, Suffix and Stem meanings
Vyutpatti = Vyakarana – Prakriti + Pratyaya
Part of Speech = Word(s) in sentences
Prefix, Suffix and prepositions
Phrase meanings and changes
Vritti and Vigraha - meaning
Syntactic structure
Phrases and sentences
Literal Meanings of Phrases /words
Abhidha-meanings, Vibhaktis and relationship with Verb
Sound and Sense relation
Fitness compatibility
Causality relations
Literal meaning of a unit of speech - phoneme
Word (stand alone)
Literal meaning /dictionary meaning
Two types – Yogaartha meaning from root, Rooddhyartha -meaning from usage – dictionary meaning
Word family
Meanings of Universals
Word sense
Sentence meaning and word meanings
Changes in word meanings in sentences
Kaaraka wrt. Akanksha
Sentence meanings on the whole
Combined meanings from words and concepts
Kaaraka – Sentence meanings Vaachyaartha
Sentence meanings - contextual
Combined meanings based on context
Avaachyaartha (in between words), Tatparyaartha, Vyangyartha – Samyogadi, Vaktraadi (Vakyapadiya, Paramalaghumnjusha)
Kosha – Amaram, Medhini, etc.
Conceptual Understanding

Many of the modern concepts in Linguistics such as Semantics, Pragmatics, Psycholinguistics, etc. have been dealt in ancient Sanskrit treatises in detail, including with multiple view points - from 14 different philosophical schools - such as 6 Dharsana + 4 Bouddha + 1 Jaina + 1 Charvaka + 1 Rasa + 1 Vyakarana - (which contains the Original language structure). Each one of these schools had their own Ontology, Epistemology, Linguistic theories, etc.

Of these schools only 3 emerged popular - Vyakarana, Mimamsa and Nyaya (later two belongs to the Dharsana). These 3 philosophical schools of linguistics analysis - developed their own abstract methods of meaning analysis - the mechanism is called "Saabda Bodha". From the concepts of Navya Nyaya and Saabda Bodha, western logicians and mathameticians developed the symbolic representation of languge units & linguistics - that will be covered later.

Will add more in this subject of linguistics terms -CGK