LINGUIST List 15.2477

Tue Sep 7 2004

FYI: South American Ling Manchester; Panini Stamp

Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <>


  1. Daniel Everett, South American Linguistics in Manchester
  2. S.N. Sridhar, Postage Stamp Issued in Honor of Panini

Message 1: South American Linguistics in Manchester

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 12:12:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Daniel Everett <>
Subject: South American Linguistics in Manchester

Recently a series of large grants have been made to the Department of
Linguistics and English Language of the University of Manchester for
the study of South American Indian languages. There are currently
three postdoctoral research associates (Drs. Cilene Campetela, Miguel
Oliveira, and Jeanette Sakel), and two full-time academic staff
(Dr. Martina Faller and Professor Dan Everett) working on the
semantics, phonology, ethnolinguistics, and morphosyntax and South
American Indian languages, in addition to undergraduate and graduate
students within the Department. This research on (largely) endangered
South American languages complements the Department's growing
strengths in documentation and description of endangered languages
more generally, as well as its well-known research in linguistic
typology and linguistic theory.

Students and researchers interested in learning more about these
research programmes on South American and endangered languages at the
University of Manchester might like to visit our website at:

- Dan Everett

Postgraduate Programme Director
Department of Linguistics and English Language
The University of Manchester
Manchester, UK M13 9PL
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Message 2: Postage Stamp Issued in Honor of Panini

Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2004 21:06:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: S.N. Sridhar <>
Subject: Postage Stamp Issued in Honor of Panini

Government of India has issued a postage stamp in honor of Panini, the
6th century B.C. author of the grammar of Sanskrit, a work that
Leonard Bloomfield described as ''one of the greatest monuments of
human intelligence.'' The Press Release issued on the occasion

The Department of Posts has released a postage stamp today in
commemoration of India's Heritage in Grammar and Mathematics which was
influenced by the accomplishments of Panini, one of the greatest
grammarians of all time whose work revolutionised the use of language
not only in India but also in the rest of the world. The stamp is in
the denomination of Rs. 5.

Panini, whose lifetime was believed to be between 520 BC and 460 BC,
was born in Shalatula, a town near Taxilla on the Indus river in the
present-day North-West Province in Pakistan. Though the dates given
for Panini's birth range from the seventh to fourth century BC, it is
believed he was born about 520 BC.

Panini's brilliant account of the structure of the Sanskrit language
seeks to provide a complete, maximally concise and theoretically
consistent analysis. It unfolds a theory of human language where the
infinite language is generated by finite grammar which modern
linguistic acknowledges as the complete, generative grammar of any
language yet written.

Panini gives formal production rules and definitions to describe
Sanskrit grammar. There are four major components of his grammar (I)
Astadhyayi or Astaka (ii) Sivasutras, (iii) Dhatupatha and (iv)
Ganapatha. Today, Panini's grammar has been compared to Euclid's
geometry and his constructions can be seen as comparable to modern
definitions of a mathematical function. Panini's rules are said to be
perfect-that is, they perfectly describe the Sanskrit morphology, and
are regarded as so clear that computer scientists have made use of
them to teach computers to understand Sanskrit. Panini uses
metarules, transformations and recursion in such sophistication that
his grammar has the computing power equivalent to a Turing machine.
In this sense Panini may be considered the father of computing
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