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Panini(pä`nēnē), fl. c.400 B.C., Indian grammarian. His Ashtādhyāyī [eight books] (tr. 1891) is one of the earliest works of descriptive linguistics and is also the first individually authored treatise on Sanskrit. Each of its 3,995 rules governing roots and suffixes is introduced in a sutra, a concise aphorism. The Ashtādhyāyī also contains historical, social, and geographical information. It is still used in the Brahmanic schools in India.
See his Ashtādhyāyī, ed. by S. C. Vasu (tr. 1962); studies by T. Goldstuecher (1860, repr. 1965) and V. Misra (1966).
Indian linguist of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.
Panini was one of the founders of linguistics, anticipating contemporary ideas in structural linguistics, semiotics, and logic. A member of the northern school of Old Indian classical grammarians, Panini studied in Taxila, a city that had a long linguistic tradition.
Panini wrote the Astadhyayi, an eight-part collection of grammatical rules that was the first normative grammar of Old Indic. It consists of terse sutras (rules) that provide an exhaustive description of the phonetics, morphology, word-formation, and syntax of Sanskrit and a partial description of Vedic in comparison to Sanskrit. The work was written in a special formalized language. Employing the concepts of part of speech, root, and suffix, the grammar is an early model of systematic language description.
The ancient Indian linguists Patanjali and Katyayana wrote interpretations of Panini’s grammatical rules. There is a separate branch of modern linguistics devoted to the study of Panini’s ideas. Among the editions of Panini’s grammar are L. Renou’s The Grammar of Panini (fascs. 1–3, Paris, 1948–54) and Ashtadhyai of Panini (vols. 1–2, Delhi, 1962).
REFERENCESToporov, V. N. “O nekotorykh analogiiakh k problemam i metodam sovremennogo iazykoznaniia v trudakh drevneindiiskikh grammatikov.” Kratkie soobshcheniia In-ta narodov Azii, 1961, fasc. 57.
Dimri, J. P. “Panini i ego ‘Vos’miknizhie.’” Narody Azii i Afriki, 1973, no. 6.
Renou, L. Etudes védiques et paninéennes, vols. 1–18, 1955–71. (With bibliography.)
N. I. KOROLEV