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Panini





Freeindia > Biographies > Sages, Rushis And Saints > Panini
Panini

Panini's grammar (6th century BCE or earlier) provides 4,000 rules that describe the Sanskrit of his day completely. This grammar is acknowledged to be one of the greatest intellectual achievements of all time. The great variety of language mirrors, in many ways, the complexity of nature and, therefore, success in describing a language is as impressive as a complete theory of physics. It is remarkable that Panini set out to describe the entire grammar in terms of a finite number of rules. Scholars have shown that the grammar of Panini represents a universal grammatical and computing system. From this perspective it anticipates the logical framework of modern computers. One may speak of a Panini machine as a model for the most powerful computing system.

Source: Staal, F. 1988. Universals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Panini was a Sanskrit grammarian who gave a comprehensive and scientific theory of phonetics, phonology, and morphology. Sanskrit was the classical literary language of the Indian Hindus.

In a treatise called Astadhyayi Panini distinguishes between the language of sacred texts and the usual language of communication. Panini gives formal production rules and definitions to describe Sanskrit grammar. The construction of sentences, compound nouns etc. is explained as ordered rules operating on underlying structures in a manner similar to modern theory.

Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language theory used to specify computer languages. The Backus Normal Form was discovered independently by John Backus in 1959, but Panini's notation is equivalent in its power to that of Backus and has many similar properties.









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Published on: 2003-01-31 (4271 reads)

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Panini
Panini
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