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Sansrkitizing Kannada / De-Sanskritizing Pāṇini: Bhaṭṭākalaṅkadēva’s Humble Contribution to Paninian Grammar


· Jane Allred University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)


07/27 | 15:30-15:50 UTC+2/CEST


Bhaṭṭākalaṅkadēva’s Karṇāṭakaśabdānuśāsanam (KAŚ) (1604), despite being the most comprehensive pre-colonial grammar of Kannada, has received relatively little scholarly attention. This lack of regard for the KAŚ may be due to an incomplete understanding of its genre. Undeniably a vernacular grammar, it also engages the Paninian grammatical tradition in a way which many other vernacular grammars do not. Offering a close reading of Bhaṭṭākalaṅka’s introduction, I will suggest that as much as his text is a grammar of Kannada, it achieves this through a decidedly non-Sanskritic attempt to universalize Pāṇini’s method. Bhaṭṭākalaṅka thus places Kannada and Sanskrit on the same level; his text is in many ways a grammar of both vernaculars. This radical revaluation of the two languages takes the KAŚ in several intriguing directions. Here, I turn to the text’s metalanguage, which Bhaṭṭākalaṅka creates through adapting, decontextualizing and even changing terminology to fit the end of describing the rules of Kannada as succinctly as possible. While such practices are hardly new, Bhaṭṭākalaṅka’s architectonic approach to Kannada grammar reveals a unique approach to Paninian grammar – one coincidentally followed by many modern linguists such as Bloomfield. Such an approach uses Pāṇini’s method to uncover more fundamental structures of language which are not limited to – and even absent from – Sanskrit. Bhaṭṭākalaṅkadēva’s text thus presents a unique case study of early modern grammar, insofar as it reveals the potential diversity of approaches to an aging Pāṇinian tradition in an era often exclusively understood through Navya-Vaiyākaraṇa texts.