Old Indic

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Old Indic


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.


Ivanov, 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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
appears to prefer Henning's interpretation of the name of the Buddha's adversary as being borrowed from Semitic Dilbat to my Debat from Old Indic Devadatta (consigned to the note).
My own preference is to compare Old Indic sphita- 'fattened': 'with fattened strength'.
Their topics include what you see is what you get: Chinese sentence-final particles as head-final complementizers, the syntax of Swedish modal particles, root infinitivals and modal particles: an interim report, combining ja and doch in German: a case of discourse structural iconicity, stressed and unstressed particles in Old Indic, and the status and interpretation of the left-peripheral sentence particles inu and ia in Old High German.
In a diachronic perspective, on the other hand, a culture which has appeared of paramount importance since the very beginnings of Indo-European studies for its unquestionable antiquity, namely Old Indic, has been ostensibly lacking in written documents until relatively recent times: from king Asoka's inscription (third century B.C.) to the onset of epistolary literature with Kalidasa (fourth century A.D.).
5: 'Angares, name of a famous singer: I wonder why Avestan gar- (Old Indic gir-) "song" was not mentioned, even if only to be discarded, as a possible element of this name and of 0Ind.
The first two formations are clearly continuations of the Old Indic future in -sya-l-(i)sya-: e.g., OI d[a.bar]syati (d[a.bar]-) > MI dassati; OI kartryati (kr-) > MI karissati; OI lapsyati (labh-) > MI lacchati.
All the attempts at deriving the Middle Indic future suffix -hi- from the Old Indic suffix -sya-I-(i)sya- run into a major difficulty: the problematic nature of the assumed MI sound change s > h.
Hintze's "dictionary," arranged bizarrely more or less in the order of the Latin alphabet, not only lists all occurrences of all words in the YH, but gives a gloss for the stem, the context and a grammatical parsing for each occurrence, indicates whether the stem appears elsewhere in Avestan, gives the page number of its lemma in Bartholomae's Worterbuch, its Pahlavi translation, Vedic cognate if any, and, if applicable, references to discussion in Mayrhofer's etymological dictionary of Old Indic (EWA), to Wackernagel Debrunner's Altindische Grammatik, its Indo-Iranian and Indo-European reconstruction, and references to LIV (Lexicon der indoger-manischen Verben) and other relevant recent secondary literature.
She writes deftly in two distinct rhetorical registers that show both the immediate quotidian context for and the broader implications of discussions of old Indic concepts such as upacara, rna, and dana (chapter two), sastra and a host of other terms (e.g., sampradaya, acara, and paddhati) relating to traditional authority (chapters three and four), aucitya and astrvada (chapter five), and suksma and viveka (chapter six).
This function of compounds in -ti- is unknown in Old Indic outside the RV and AV, but it is parallelled in Old Iranian; cf.
181-82), as well as an interesting comparison of the function of -le with that of the Old Indic perfect tense.
2 In Old Indic, but not in Avestan, it also has a middle grade in which the suffix takes on the form -uat-.