the language of the oldest Aryan population of India. Old Indic belongs to a number of early representatives of the Indo-European language family (its eastern branch). It is related to the Old Iranian (Avestan and Old Persian). Aryan speakers of Old Indic invaded northwestern India (beginning, apparently, in the middle of the second millennium B.C.) and, later, part of southern India. During this time, Old Indie borrowed a number of elements from the aboriginal languages (Munda and the Dravidian languages). Two main periods—the Vedic and the Sanskrit—have been differentiated in the history of Old Indie. The earliest records of Old Indie are the sacred hymns of the Rig-Veda and other collections of Vedic texts. A vast religious, philosophical, scientific, scholarly, and juridical literature arose and flourished in Old Indie, and remarkable monuments of prose, drama, and lyric poetry were created. Old Indie, in the form of Sanskrit, spread widely among a number of countries in Southeast Asia and Central Asia. It is widely used in India as a language of religion, philosophy, science, and scholarship and, at the same time, it is a valuable source for the study of the modern Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages.
The language of the early Vedic texts differs from Sanskrit by less unification and standardization, an abundance of variants, a richer system of verb forms, and archaisms in declension, conjugation, syntax, and vocabulary; but the phonetic features of the Vedic and Sanskrit languages display many resemblances. Sanskrit, as the “cultivated” language standardized in the works of the Old Indie grammarians, is characterized by the absence of many archaisms and exceptions and by a simplification of the system of categories and paradigms. Classical Sanskrit, and to a lesser degree Epic Sanskrit, is quite unified. Undoubtedly, other Old Indie dialects also existed that were not reflected in the texts. These may be conjectured from those Middle Indie languages that appeared as a result of the evolution of these dialects. Old Indie language research was one of the basic stimulants for the creation in the 19th century of the comparative and historical method in philology (linguistics) and the comparative and historical grammar of the Indo-European languages.
REFERENCESIvanov, V. V., and V. N. Toporov.Sanskrit. Moscow, 1960.
Byler, G.Rukovodstvo k elementarnomu kursu sanskritskogo iazyka, 2nd ed. L’vov, 1960. (Translated from Swedish.)
Renou, L.Grammaire sanscrite, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1930.
Renou, L.Grammaire de la langue védique. Paris, 1952.
Renou, L.Histoire de la langue sanscrite. Lyon-Paris, 1956.
Wackernagel, J., and A. Debrunner.Altindische Grammatik, vols. 1-3. Gottingen, 1930-57.
Edgerton, F.Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit: Grammar and Dictionary,vols. 1-2. New Haven, 1953.
Böhtlingk, O.Sanskrit-Wörterbuch, vols. 1-7. St. Petersburg, 1855-75.
Mayrhofer, M.Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen, vols. 1-3. Heidelberg, 1953-68.
V. N. TOPOROV