Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech


[ Highly perturbed by the hasty conclusions of the 19th cent Western Philologists and their Aryanism which still survives, Aurobindo wanted to write a book on this but  it appears he didn't go beyond writing an introduction which is now being serialized here. It is  given as an appendix to his The Secret of The Veda  published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry ( 1956 ). It is a pity that Aurobindo was not acquainted with Sumerian and that it is Archaic Tamil. However I believe this article will form an input for further developments along these lines and bring about a better understanding on Indian Civilization and its beginnings

Dr K..Loganathan ]


Among all the many promising beginnings of which the nineteenth century was the witness, none perhaps was hailed with greater eagerness by the world of culture and science than the triumphant debut of comparative Philology. None perhaps has been more disappointing in its results. The philologists indeed place   a high value on their line of study , -- nor is that to be wondered at, in  spite of all its defects , -- and persist in giving it the name of Science; but scientists are of a different opinion. In Germany, in the very metropolis both of Science and philology, the word philology has become a term of disparagement; nor are the philologists in a position to retort.

Physical Science has proceeded by the soundest and most scrupulous methods and produced a mass of indisputable results which, by their magnitude and far-reaching consequences, have revolutionized the world and justly entitled the age of their development to the title of the wonderful century. Comparative Philology has hardly moved a step beyond its origins; all the rest has been a mass of conjectural and ingenuous learning of which the brilliance is only equaled by the uncertainty and unsoundness. Even so great a philologist as Renan was obliged in the later part of his career, begun with such unlimited hopes, to a deprecating apology for the "little conjectural science" to which he had devoted his life's energies.

At the beginning of the century's philological researches, when Sanskrit tongue had been discovered, when Max Muller was exulting in his fatal formula, "pitaa, pateer, pater, vater, father", the Science of Language seemed to be on the point of self-revelation; as the result of the century's toil it can be asserted by thinkers of repute that the very idea of a Science of Language is a chimera!

No doubt , the case against Comparative Philology has been overstated. If it has not discovered the Science of Language, it has at least swept out of existence the fantastic, arbitrary and almost lawless Etymology of our forefathers. It has given us juster notions about the relations and history of extant languages and the processes by which old tongues have degenerated into that detritus out of which a new form of speech fashions itself. Above all, it has given us the firmly established notion that our investigations into language must be a search for rules and laws and not free and untrammeled gambolings among individual derivations. The way has been prepared; many difficulties have been cleared out of our way. Still scientific philology is non-existent; much less has there been any real approach to the discovery of the Science of Language.

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Does it follow that a Science of language is undiscoverable? In India, at least, with its great psychological systems mounting to the  remotest prehistoric antiquity, we cannot easily believe that regular and systematic processes of nature are not at the basis of all phenomena of sound and speech. European philology has missed the road to the truth because an excessive enthusiasm and eager haste to catch at and exaggerate imperfect, subordinate and often misleading formulae has involved it in bypaths that lead to no resting-place; but somewhere the road exists. If it exists it can be found. The right clue alone is wanted and  a freedom to mind which can pursue it unencumbered by prepossessions and undeterred by the orthodoxies of the learned. Above all if the science of philology is to cease to figure among the petty conjectural sciences, among which even Renan was compelled to classify it, -- and conjectural science means pseudoscience, since fixed , sound and verifiable bases and methods independent of conjectures are the primary condition of Science, -- then the habit of hasty generalization, of light and presumptuous inferences, of the chase after mere ingenuities and the satisfaction of curious and learned speculation which are the pitfalls of verbal scholarship must be rigidly eschewed and relegated to the waste paper basket of humanity, counted among its necessary toys which, having now issued out of nursery, we should put away into their appropriate lumber-room. Where there is insufficient evidence or equal probability in conflicting solutions, Science admits conjectural hypotheses as a step towards discovery. But the abuse of this concession to our human ignorance, the habit of erecting flimsy conjectures as the assured gains of knowledge is the curse of philology. A Science which is ninetenths conjectures has no right at this stage of human march, to make much of itself or seek to impose itself on the mind of the race. Its right attitude is humility, its chief business to seek always for surer foundations and a better justification for it existence.

To seek for such a stronger and surer foundation is the object of this work. In order that the attempt may succeed, it is necessary first to perceive the errors committed by the philologists after their momentous discovery of the Sanskrit tongue, was to exaggerate the importance of their first superficial discoveries. The first glance is apt to be superficial; the perceptions drawn from an initial survey stand always in need of correction. If then we are so dazzled and led away by them as to make them the very key of our future knowledge , its central plank, its basic platform we prepare for ourselves grievous disappointments. Comparative Philology, guilty of this error, has seized on a minor clue and mistaken it for a major or chief clue.

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 Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

When Max Muller trumpeted forth to the world in his attractive studies the great rapproachment , pitaa, pateer, pater, vater, father , he was  preparing the bankruptcy of the new science; he was leading it away from the truer clues , the wider vistas that lay behind. The most extraordinary and imposingly unsubstantial structures were reared on the narrow basis of that unfortunate formula. First, there was the elaborate division of civilized humanity into Aryan, Semitic, Dravidian and Turanean races, based upon the philological classification of the ancient and modern languages. More sensible and careful reflection has shown us that community of language is no proof of community of blood or ethnological identity; the French are not a Latin race because they speak a corrupt and nasalised Latin, nor the Bulgars Slavs in blood because the Ugro-Finnish races have been wholly Slavonicised in civilization and language. Scientific researches of another kind have confirmed this useful and timely negation. The Philologists have, for instance, split up, on the strength of linguistic differences, the Indian nationality into the northern Aryan race and the southern Dravidian, but sound observations shows a single physical types with minor variations pervading the whole of India from Cape Comorin to Afghanistan.

Language is therefore discredited as an ethnological factor. The races of India may be all pure dravidians, if indeed such an entity as a Dravidian races exists or ever existed, or they may pure Aryans, if indeed such an entity as an Aryan race exists or ever existed, or they they may be a mixed race with one predominant strain, but in any case the linguistic division of the tongues of India into the Sanskritic and the Tamilic counts for nothing in that problem. Yet so great is the force of attractive generalisations and widely popularized error that all the world goes on perpetuating the blunder talking of the Indo-European races, claiming or disclaiming Aryan kinship and building on that basis of falsehood the most far-reaching political, social or pseudo-scientific conclusions

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Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

But if language is no sound factor of ethnological research, it may be put forward as a proof of common civilization and used as a useful and reliable guide to the phenomena of early civilizations. Enormous, most ingenious, most painstaking have been the efforts to extract from the meaning of words a picture of the early Aryan civilization previous to the dispersion of their tribes. Vedic scholarship has built upon this conjectural science of philology, upon a brilliantly ingenious and attractive but wholly conjectural and unreliable interpretation of the Vedas, a remarkable, minute and captivating picture of an early half-savage Aryan civilization in India. How much value can we attach to these dazzling structures? none, for they have no assured scientific basis. They may be true and last, they may be partly true and yet have to be seriously modified, they may be entirely false and no trace of them be left in the ultimate conclusion of human knowledge on the subject; we have no means of determining between these three possibilities.

The now settled rendering of Veda which reigns hitherto because it has never been critically and minutely examined, is sure before long to be powerfully attacked and questioned. One thing may be confidently expected that even if India was ever invaded, colonised or civilised by northern worshippers of Su and Fire, yet the picture of that invasion richly painted by philological scholarship from the Rig Veda will prove to be a modern legend and not ancient history, and even if a half-savage Aryan civilization existed in India in early times, this astonishingly elaborate modern descriptions of Vedic India will turn out a philological mirage and phantasmagoria.

The wider question of an early Aryan civilization must equally be postponed till we have sounder materials. The present theory is wholly illusory; for it assumes that common terms imply a common civilization, an assumption which sins both by excess and by defect. It sins by excess; it cannot be argued, for instance, that because the romans and indians have a common term for a particular utensil, therefore that utensil was possessed by their ancestors in common previous to their separation. We must know first the history of the contact between the ancestors of the two races; me must be sure that the extant Roman word did not displace and original Latin term not possessed by the Indians; we must be sure that the Romans did not receive the term by transmission from Greek or Celt without ever having had any identity, connection or contact with our Aryan forefathers; we must be proof against many other possible solutions about which philology can give us no guarantee either negative or affirmative.

The Indian surangka, a tunnel, is supposed to be the Greek surinx. We cannot, therefore, argue that the Greeks and Indians possessed the common art of tunnel-making before their dispersion or even that the Indians who borrowed the word from Greece, never knew what an underground excavation might be till they learned it from Macedonian engineers. The Bengali term for telescope is durbin , a word not of European origin. We cannot conclude that the bengalis had invented the telescope independently before their contact with the Europeans.

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Yet on the principles by which the philologists seem to be guided in their conjectural restorations of vanished cultures , these are precisely the conclusions at which we should arrive. Here we have a knowledge of the historical facts to correct our speculations; but the prehistoric ages are not similarly defended. Historical data are entirely wanting and we are left at the mercy of words and their misleading indications. But a little reflection on the vicissitudes of language and specially some study of the peculiar linguistic phenomenon created in India by the impact of the English tongue on our literary vernaculars, the first rush with which English words attempted to oust , in conversation and letter-writing, even common indigenous terms in their own favour and the reaction by which the vernaculars are now finding new Sanskritic terms to express the novel concepts introduced by the Europeans, will be sufficient to convince any thoughtful mind how rash are the premises of these philological culture-restores and how excessive and precarious their conclusions. Nor do they sin by excess alone, but by defect also.

They consistently ignore the patent fact in prehistoric and preliterary times the vocabularies of primitive languages must have varied from century to century to an extent of which we with our ideas of language drawn from classical and modern literary tongues can form little conception. It is, I believe , an established fact of anthropology that many savage tongues change their vocabulary almost from generation to generation. It is, therefore , perfectly possible that the implements of civilization and culture ideas for which no two Aryan tongues have a common term may yet have been a common property before their dispersion; since each of them may have rejected after their dispersion the original common term for a neologism of its own manufacture. It is the preservation of common terms and not their disappearance that is the miracle of language.

I exclude, therefore, and exclude rightly from the domain of philology as I conceive it all ethnological conclusions, all inferences from words to the culture and civilization of the men or races who used them, however alluring may be those speculations, however attractive, interesting and probable may be the inferences which we are tempted to draw in their course of our study. The philologists has nothing to do with sociology, anthropology and archeology. His sole business is or ought to be with the history of words and of the association of ideas with the sound forms which they represent. By strictly confining himself to this province, by the self-denial with which he eschews all irrelevant distractions and delights on his somewhat dry and dusty road, he will increase his concentration on his own proper work and avoid lures which may draw him away from the great discoveries awaiting mankind on this badly explored tract of knowledge.

[Some Questions(Loga)

While Aurobindo is certainly right is saying that from philological studies one cannot come to definitive conclusions about ethnological or racial matters, but is it  true that we cannot come to some conclusions about the workings of the mind and hence about sociological and  psychological matters underlying the formation of words? For words are not simply associations of meanings with sounds and even if so the emergence of certain meanings may not entirely be  free of the ecological situations and the psychological needs. For example thirst leads man to search for water and the manner in which water is noted and which is ecological gives the various terms for water. Thus by an analysis of the various ways in which meanings overlap, are brought to together to form a complex and its relationship to paralinguistic matters,  we can elucidate  some information about he environment, the observational processes and hence  something about culture and ecology and in the anthropological veins. Since we can gain some information about the ecological matters, perhaps also discover something relevant for even archeology. ]


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

But the affinities of languages to each other are, at least, a proper field for the labours of philology. Nevertheless, even here I am compelled to hold that the scholarship of Europe has fallen into an error in giving this subject of study the first standing among the objects of philology. Are we really quite sure that we know what constitutes community or diversity of origin between two different languages - so different , for instance, as  Latin and Sanskrit, Sanskrit and Tamil, Tamil and latin ? latin, Greek and Sanskrit are supposed to be sister Aryan tongues, Tamil is set apart as of other and Dravidian origin. If we enquire on what foundation this distinct and contrary treatment rests, we shall find that community of origin is supposed on two main grounds, a common body of ordinary and familiar terms and a considerable community of grammatical forms and uses. We come back to the initial formula, pitaa pateer, pater, vater, father .

What other test , it may be asked, can be found for determining linguistic kinship? Possibly none, but a little dispassionate consideration will give us, it seems to me, ground to pause and reflect very long and seriously before we classify languages too confidently upon this slender basis. The mere possession of a large body of common terms, it is recognised, insufficient to establish kinship; it may establish nothing more than contact or cohabitation. Tamil has a very large of body of Sanskrit words in its rich vocabulary, but it is not therefore a Sankritic language.

The common terms must be those which express ordinary and familiar ideas and objects, such as domestic relations, numerals, pronouns, the heavenly bodies , the ideas of being , having, etc.; -- those terms that are commonly in the mouths of men, especially of primitive men, and are , therefore, shall we say, least liable to variation? Sanskrit says addressing the father, pitar, Greek pateer, Latin pater, but Tamil says appaa; Sanskrit says addressing the mother maater, Greek meeter, Latin mater , but Tamil ammaa; for the numeral seven Sanskrit says saptan or sapta, Greek hepta, Latin septa, but Tamil eezu; for the first person Sanskrit says aham, Greek egoo or egoon, Latin ego, but Tamil naan; for the sun , Sanskrit says suura or suurya, Greek helious, Latin sol, but Tamil njaayiR; for the idea of being, Sanskrit has as, asmi, Greek has einai and eimi, Latin esse and sum, but Tamil iru. The basis of differentiation, then, appears with a striking clearness. There is no doubt about it. Sanskrit greek and latin belong to one linguistic family which we may call conveniently the Aryan or Indo-European, Tamil to another for which we can get no more convenient terms than Dravidian

Some Comments( Loga)

While I tend to agree with Aurobindo over the immense caution necessary, he appears to be sadly mistaken in lumping Sanskrit  along with Greek and Latin and include it as Aryan or Indo-European and which "appears with a striking clearness".  We can't blame Aurobindo here for despite having been for more that 150 years, Sumerian has been systematically neglected in the study of ancient  languages and perhaps because very early it was recognized that it does not belong to the Semitic or the Indo-Aryan family of language. A serious study of the original texts indicate that it is an an Archaic form of Tamil and Rigkrit, the language of Rig Veda is a later variant of this SumeroTamil.

Let me  mention  a few things just to indicate that the matter is NOT clear at all and requires furhter studies taking Sunerian fully into account.

1. Yes there is a large range of shared vocabulary between Tamil and Sanskrit , larger than we think but this is NOT due lexical borrowing through cohabitation and so forth. It is best understood as different branches of the SAME primitive language and here Sumerotamil. Sanskrit is an early evolute from Archaic Tamil just like other Dravidian languages like Telugu and so forth.

2. Words like pater, pateer etc. , though obsolete in Classical Tamil but may be terms in Archaic Tamil. In Sumerian we have ab-ba ( father) am-ma,  um-ma ( mother) and related terms : dumu ( offspring) mus-san ( maccaan, : son in law etc. ) tab ( tambi, tambu: brother, friend), kuli ( friend, Ta. kulam, ikuli) etc.. And it has also roots like 'bi' ( to give , Ta. pii, pey) , mu ( self, Ta. moo) and tar ( to give, Ta. taru, taa) . Thus we can have bi-tar ( > pitar) : he who gives rise to birth? ; mu-tar( matar) ; one who delivers a self, a child  etc.

3. The word akam also occurs in Sumerian as well as classical Tamil and which is retained in Ta. as the vocative 'ka, kam" etc. In Su. akam means the inside and later derivatively it has come to be used in the sense of 'self', that which is inside the body. The term for 'being" also occurs in Su. as 'as, es" separately as well as verbal suffixes.

4. The wrods 'sul, sur" are well attested in Su. as in "utu sul" radiant  sun etc. ( sul> sun, Eg. sun?) So also 'mul' and which exists now in Ta. as min, mul,  muul-an etc and whihc might have given rise to Eg. moon etc.

I am mentioning all these only to show that such studies taken against the background of Sumerian may in fact throw further light on the genesis of Sanskrit  as well as Greek and Latin. My preliminary studies on Rig Veda and and so forth indicate that if Sumerian is Archaic Tamil and hence Dravidian so is also Sanskrit.


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

So far, good. We seem to be standing on a firm foundation, to be in possession of a rule which can be applied with something like scientific accuracy. But when we go a little farther, the fair prospect clouds a little, mists of doubt begin to creep into our field of vision. Mother and father we have; but there are other domestic  relations. Over the daughter of the house, the primaeval milk-maid, the Aryan sisters show the slight beginnings of a spirit of disagreement. The Sanskrit father addresses her in the orthodox fashion , duhitar, O milkmaid: greek as well as German and english parents follow suit with thugather, tochter, and daughter, but Latin has abandoned its pastoral ideas, knows nothing of duhitaa and uses filia which has no conceivable connection with milk-pail and is not connected with any variant for daughter in the kindred tongues. Was Latin then a mixed tongue drawing from a non-Aryan stock for its conception of daughterhood? but this is only a single and negligible variation.

We go farther and find, when we come to the word for son, these Aryan languages seem to differ hopelessly and give up all appearance of unity. Sanskrit says putra, Greek huious, Latin filius, the three languages use three words void of all mutual connection. We cannot indeed arrive at the conclusion that these languages were Aryan in their conception of fatherhood and motherhood , but sonhood is a Dravidian conception, -- like architecture, monism and most other civilised conceptions, according to some modern authorities; for Sanskrit has a literary term for child or son, suunuh, with which we can connect the German sohn, English son and more remotely the greek huios. We explain the difference then by supposing that these languages did possess an original common term for son, possibly suunu, which was dropped by many of them at least in a colloquial expression, Sanskrit relegated it to the language of high literature., Greek adopted another form from the same root, Latin lost it altogether and substituted for it filius as it has substituted filia for duhitaa.

 Some Comments ( Loga)

It is interesting that most of the terms mentioned above can be seen as Dravidian  quite unmistakably and some  occurring even in Sumerian.

Thus 'duhitar" meaning milk-maid that has come to mean also 'daughter' can be seen 'tuui-taru"  ( the giver of something white or pure or drink) where both are Tamil and still in use. The 'taru' meaning 'to give' functions as an auxiliary or in the past as the main verb as "tiri.taru" that is noted in caGkam classics. We have also noted the occurrence of this in pa-ter( < bii-taru) mater < mu-taru or ma-taru ) etc.

The Latin filia reminds us of Ta. piLLai or PiLLa or BiLLa  ( son, child, offspring) where the roots are biL-aa. The biL/ piL meaning to split open has given us also  peN: the female. Bil-aa would mang something that emerges from a split  and hence from the  Yoni.

The suunuh stands to be  compared with Ta. sinai : the fetus, the young of some animals etc. the root is 'sil/ sin"  that also occurs in Sumerian meaning to split and derivatively 'small' "young' etc. In Akkadian this is noted as sihru ( Ta. ciRu) The Sk putra can also be seen 'puu-taru" where 'puu' is to blossom , come forth, emerge etc. We  should also note that Sk putri , the daughter where '-i' is  a suffix indicating the feminine gender is a typical Dravidian morphological feature and probably a derivative of the Su. si.

The facts Aurobindo points out here lead us to think that Greek Latin and so forth BORROWED these terms and differently and probably from Sumerian which was very influential in the Ancient Middle East. While Sanskrit is  an EVOLUTE of Archaic Tamil or Sumerian, languages like Latin and Greek simply borrowed in various ways these terms from Sumerian ( or Akkadian which was influenced very deeply by Sumerian). Early Philology overlooking this complicated historical aspects must have very hastily jumped to the conclusion of Aryan , Indo-Aryan etc. perhaps with very little substance for such conclusions.


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

This sort of fluidity in the commonest terms seems to have been common - Greek has lost its original word for brother, phrator, which its sisters retain, and substituted adelphos, for which they have no correspondents, Sanskrit has abandoned the common word for the numeral unes, ein, one and substituted a word eka, unknown to any other Aryan tongue; all differ over the third personal pronoun; for 'moon' Greek has selene , Latin luna, Sanskrit candra. But when we admit these facts, a very important part of our scientific basis is sapped and the edifice begins to totter. For we come back to this fatal fact that even in the commonest terms
the ancient languages tended to lose their original vocabulary and diverge from  each other so that if the process had not been arrested by an early literature all obvious proof of relationship might well have disappeared. It is only the accident of an early and continuous Sanskrit literature that enables us to establish the original unity of the Aryan tongues. If it were not for the old Sanskrit writings, if only the ordinary Sanskrit colloquial vocables had survived who could be certain of these connections? or who could confidently affiliate colloquial Bengali with its ordinary domestic terms to Latin any more certainly than Telugu or Tamil? How then are we to be sure that the dissonance of Tamil itself with the Aryan tongues is not due to an
separation and an extensive change of its vocabulary during its preliterary ages?

I shall be able, at a later stage of this inquiry to afford some ground for supposing the Tamil numerals to be early Aryan vocables abandoned by Sanskrit but still traceable in the Veda or scattered and imbedded in the various Aryan tongues and the Tamil pronouns similarly the primitive Aryan  denominatives of which traces still remain in the ancient tongues. I shall be able to show also that large families of words supposed to be pure Tamil are identical in the mass, though not in their units, with Aryan family.

Some Comments ( Loga)

It appears to me that Tamil numeral system emerged from the Sumerian and may be the common system for Sanskrit as well. Sumerian the word for the one, the first and so forth is 'as' and which can be taken as the archaic form of Sk. ek and Ta. eek-.  Among the remaining terms : min ( 2) es (3) limmu (4), i, ia ( 5), as (6), imin (7) ussu ( 8) ilimmu ( 9) u ( 10), while the term for 5 is retained as 'ai, aintu' and ilimmu as viLimmu ( the extreme edge or end), the remaining terms seem to have been dropped out. It is interesting to note the name for 9 -- ilimmu which may mean the end, the extreme etc. Perhaps this shows that the numeral
system was octonary at least at the level of the the basic numbers. However when it comes to 11, 12 and so forth u-as ( 11) u-min ( 12) we have the same  pattern being followed in Tamil to this day : pattu-onRu ( 11), pattu-iraNdu (12) and so forth. However this similarity breaks down when it comes to multiples of ten: nis ( 20), usu( 30) nimin ( 40) etc. where in Tamil we have iru-pattu ( 20), muu-pattu (30), naal-pattu ( 40) etc. Perhaps this is a later innovation by way of making the numbering system more systematic.

We must also note that sar ( 3600) and sar-ges-ra ( 216,000) are better retained in Sk as carva and sahasra.  In Tamil perhaps aayiram ( 1000) is a variant of of sahasra( < Su.sarges-ra ) but   the same meaning i.e.. a thousand.

Also it is interesting to noe the similarity of unus, ein, one etc with Tamil. onnu, onRu and which are derivatives of Ta. oru, oor .


But then we are logically driven towards this conclusion that absence of a common vocabulary for common ideas and objects is
not necessarily a proof of diverse origin. Diversity of grammatical forms? But are we certain that the Tamil forms are not equally
old Aryan forms, corrupted but preserved by the early deliquescence of the Tamilic dialect? Some of them are common to the
modern Aryan vernaculars, but unknown to Sanskrit, and it has even been thence concluded by some that the Aryan vernaculars
were originally non-Aryan tongues linguistically overpowered by the foreign invader. But if so then into what quagmires of
uncertainty do we not descend? Our shadow of scientific basis, our fixed classifications of language families have disappeared
into shifting vestibules of nothingness.

Nor is this all the havoc that mature consideration works in the established theory of the philologists. We have found a wide
divergence between the Tamil common terms and those shared in common by the "Aryan" dialects; but let us look a little more
closely into these divergences.

The Tamil for father is appaa, not pitaa; there is no corresponding word in Sanskrit, but we have what one might call a reverse
of the word in apatyam, son, in aptyam, offspring and apna, offspring. These three words point decisively to a Sanskrit root
ap, to produce or create, for which other evidence in abundance  can be found. What is there to prevent us from supposing
appaa, father , to be the Tamil form for an old Aryan active derivative from this root corresponding to the passive derivative

Mother in Tamil is ammaa, not maataa; there is no Sanskrit word ammaa, but there is the well-known Sanskrit word ambaa,
mother. What is  to prevent us from understanding the Tamil ammaa as an Aryan form equivalent to ambaa, derived from the
root amb to produce, which gives us amba and ambaka, father, ambaa , ambikaa and ambi, mother and amabrisa, colt of a
horse or the young of an animal.

Some Comments( Loga)

It appears to me that Aurobindo is rather critical of the constructionist or reconstructionist approach to Philology and indirectly
advocating an Evolutionary Approach to this discipline to make it really scientific, an approach that has been developed
somewhat by PavaNar in his etymological studies of Tamil Lexicon. A common language can develop into several branches and
in this branching register changes along with continuity. This is the view I take with respect to the relationship between
Sumerian and Tamil and because of which I call Sumerian Archaic Tamil. My studies ( on going) also show that Rigkrit, the
language of Rig Veda and allied texts, a preform of Sanskrit,  is ANOTHER but closely related variant of Archaic Tamil. It is
possible now to trace out this line of development with citations of actual utterances and not simply reconstructed protoforms.

Just another note with respect to 'ap' that Aurobindo takes to be an Aryan root. If instead of Aryan , if we call Sumerian, the
bulk of what he says will be quite acceptable. The root 'aa'  meaning , to become , is available in Sumerian , though
transliterated without showing any difference in vocalic length. For  e.g. e-dub-ba-a-a am which written full will be : il tubbaiya
aa aam : I attended the school or I became one in the school. Now we have also aaku: to become, aakku: to make , create,
produce etc. and which occur in Su. as 'ag' . The Tamil aayi: mother  is certainly derived from this root.

Any way the point is that as far as the Indian languages go, the distinctions between Aryan and Dravidian may not hold the way
Philology has posited  and all are possibly Dravidian ( for want of a better name) , languages that grew or evolved out of
Sumerian or language very close to that and hence some form Archaic Tamil


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

Sodara, a high Sanskrit word, is the common colloquial term in Tamil for brother and replaces the northern vernacular bhaai and
classical bhraataa. Akkaa, a Sanskrit word with many variants, is the colloquial term in Tamil for elder sister. In all these cases
an obsolete or high literary term in Sanskrit is the the ordinary colloquial term in Tamil, just as we see the high literary Sanskrit
suunuh appearing in the colloquial German sohn and English son, the obsolete and certainly high literary Aryan adalbha
undivided, appearing in the colloquial Greek adelphos, brother. What are we to conclude from these and a host of other
instances which will appear in a later volume of this work? That Tamil is an Aryan dialect, like Greek, like German ? Surely not.
-- the evidence is not sufficient; but that it is possible for an non-Aryan tongue to substitute largely and freely Aryan vocables
for its most common and familiar terms and lose its own native expression.

But then we are again driven by inexorable logic to this conclusion that just as the absence of common vocabulary for common
and domestic terms is not a sure proof of diverse origin, so also the possession of an almost identical vocabulary for these
terms is not a sure proof of common origin. These things prove, at the most, intimate contact or separate development; they do
not prove and in themselves cannot prove anything more. But on what basis then we are to distinguish and classify various
language families ? Can we positively say that Tamil is a non-Aryan or Greek, Latin and German Aryan tongues?  from the
indication of grammatical forms and uses, from the general impression created by the divergence or identity of the vocables
inherited by the languages we are comparing? But the first is too scanty and inconclusive, the second too empirical, uncertain
and treacherous a test; both are the reverse of scientific, both, as reflection will show, might lead us into the largest and most
radical errors. Rather than to form a conclusion by such a principle it is better to abstain from all conclusion and turn to a more
thorough and profitable initial labour.

Some Comments( Loga)

Yes , there is a need for more 'profitable initial labour' for most of the studies of these ancient languages have systematically
neglected Sumerian and along with it Akkadian that was influenced greatly by Sumerian and which in turn influenced Ancient
Hebrew Hittite Old Persian and so forth.  When such studies are pursued in a scientific manner,  it will turn out  I think , that
most of the common terms that are used for reconstructing Proto IndoAryan and so forth may actually be terms borrowed form
Sumerian and common because of that.

The identification of Sumerian as Archaic Tamil also shows that most of the words common to Tamil and Sanskrit are NOT
borrowings from Sanskrit but a shared set of common words just like between Malayalam, Kannada Telugu and so forth.

The study of Sanskrit from the background of an understanding of SumeroTamil also indicates that some grammatical features ,
available in Sumerian but obsolete in Classical Tamil are preserved better in Sanskrit. An example will be 'asya" which
corresponds with Su. as-a and which has become atti-a where the 'attu' is said to be simply a saariyai, a sound filler of a kind.


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

I conclude that it is to early, in the history of philological research, we have made as yet to crude and slender a foundation to rear upon it the superstructure of scientific laws and scientific classifications. we cannot yet arrive at a sound and certain classification of human tongues still extant i speech, record of literature. We must recognise that our divisions are popular, not scientific, based upon superficial identities, not upon the one sound foundation for a science, the study of various specifies in their development from the embryos to the finished form or, failing the necessary material, s reverse study tracing back the finished forms to the embryonic and digging down into the hidden original foetus of language. The reproach of the real scientist against the petty conjectural pseudo-science of philology is just; it must be removed by the adoption of a sounder method and greater self-restraint, the renunciation of brilliant superficialities and a more scrupulous, sceptical and patient system of research.

In the present work I renounce, therefore, however alluring the temptation, however strong the facts may seem to a superficial study, all attempt to speculate on the identities or relationships of the different languages, on the evidence of philology as to the character and history of primitive human civilisations, or any other subject whatever not strictly within the four walls of my subject. That subject is the origin, growth and development of human language as it is shown to us by the embryology of the language ordinarily called Sanskrit and three ancient tongues, two dead and one living which have evidently come at least into contact with it, the latin, Greek and Tamil. I have called my work, for convenience's sake, ' The Origins of Aryan Speech', but I would have it clearly understood that by using this familiar epithet I do not for a moment wish to imply any opinion as the relationship of the four languages included in my survey, or the race origin of peoples speaking them or even of the ethnic origins of the Sanskrit speaking peoples. I did not wish to use the word Sanskrit, both because it is only a term meaning polished or correct and designating the literary tongue of ancient India as distinct from the vernaculars used by the women and the common people and because my scope is somewhat wider than the classical tongue of northern Hindus. I base my conclusions on the evidence of Sanskrit language helped out by those parts of the Greek, Latin and tamil tongues which are cognate to the word-families of Sanskrit, and by the origins of Aryan speech I mean, properly, the origin of human speech as used and developed by those who fashioned these word-families and their stocks and off-shoots. The significance of the word Aryan, as I use it, goes no farther.

Some Comments (Loga)

Here more than elsewhere Aurobindo is very clear that he favours an EVOLUTIONARY model for historical linguistics rather the very highly speculative reconstructive model where protoforms are reconstructed more in the vein of hypothesis rather than intuitions into what Aurobindo calls 'embryonic' forms and what I call Archaic Forms. In order to study the evolution of Sanskrit  to the form it assumed in the hands of Panini or in the form it has assumed in Rig Veda etc., we have to discover specimens of earlier forms that are more archaic or embryonic  It is here that  Sumerian is enormously important for it appears to be not only an archaic form of Tamil but also Sanskrit thus pointing out the sameness of linguistic family, a view quite different from that Western Philology has proposed.

Here we must also note that Aurobindo is recommending, though only vaguely that Philology is something like Historical Science and hence essentially Hermeneutical. Over and above the Positive Sciences we have also the Hermeneutic Sciences, something Dilthey, the German Philosopher was advocating and that the correct methodology for Historical Linguistics is that  of Hermeneutic Sciences.


Sri Aurobindo

 The Origins of Aryan Speech
In such an enquiry, it is obvious that a kind of science of linguistic embryology is the first necessity. In other words, it is only in proportion as we get away from the habbits and notions and apparent facts of formed human speech in its use by modern and civilised people, only in proportion as we get nearer to the first and rudiments of the structure of the more ancient and primitive languages that we shall have any chance of making really fruitful discoveries. Just as from the study of the formed outward man, animal, plant, the great truths of evolution could not be discovered or, if discovered, not firmly fixed, --- just as only by going back from the formed creature to its skeleton and from the skeleton to the embryo could the great truth be established that in matter also the great Vedantic formula holds good, -- of a world formed by the the development of many forms from one seed, in the will of universal Being, ekam biijam bahudhaa yah karoti, so also in language; if the origin and unity of human speech can be found and established, if it can be shown that its development was governed by the fixed laws and processes, it is only by going back to its earliest forms that the discovery is to be made and its proofs established.

Modern speech is largely a fixed and almost artificial form, not precisely a fossil, but an organism proceeding towards arrest and fossilisation. The ideas its study suggests to us are well calculated to lead us entirely astray. In modern language the word is fixed conventional symbol having for no good reason that we know a significance that we are bound by custom to attach it. We man by wolf a certain kind of animal, but why we use this sound and not another to mean it, except as a mere lawless fact of historical development, we do not know, do not care to think. Any other sound would, for us , be equally good for the purpose, provided the custom-bound mentality prevailing in our environment could be persuaded to sanction it. It is only when we go back to the early tongues and find, for instance, that the Sanskrit word for wolf means radically " tearing" that we get a glimpse of one law at least of the development of language.

Some Comments ( Loga)

We must note carefully the developmental or evolutionary view that Aurobindo is advocating here. Historical linguistics is NOT possible as a Science unless we discover the embryonic forms or fossils of a particular language. Language develops evolves and on the way also allowing the growth and separation of different languages along with continuity. The model of a tree with different branches comes readily to the mind, a model that works also in many fields of evolutionary including the metaphysical systems.
In this perhaps among the world languages Tamil is unique fr it has preserved forms that stretch a period of at least 6000 years if we include the Sumerian as Archaic Tamil. Just to give an example we from Sulgi Hymn B ( 2000 B.C) the following sentence:

13 tur-ra-mu-de e-dub-ba-a a am ( Since my (very) youth I belonged in the edubba

* Ta. tur-ra mutee il tubbaiya aa aam ( " )
The slightly revised version that agrees to a large extent with the original , given by scholars who are not at all familiar with Tamil. There is INTELLIGIBILITY of this sentence as Tamil both because of similarities in lexicon and grammatical features. The words tur ( Ta. tur), mu-de ( Ta. mutee, mutalee) e ( Ta. il) dub-ba (Ta. tubbu) a ( Ta. aa) am (Ta. aam) agree in morphology and meaning. Also in grammatical features so much so that with a little of training anyone who knows Tamil and also recognise this sentence as tamil but certainly an archaic form

This sentence is a fossil of classical Tamil and therefore can be seen as an archaic form of Tamil. Systematic studies of the archaism of Sumerian in relation to Tamil can be made a field of strict science for any line of development either in syntax word morphology semantics an so forth can be discussed with attested 'fossils" and hence a matter for agreement and disagreements among scholars.

Sri Aurobindo

 The Origins of Aryan Speech

Again, in modern speech we have fixed parts of speech; noun, adjective, verb, adverb are to us different words even when their forms are the same. Only when we go back to the earlier tongues do we get a glimpse of the striking, the illuminating fact that in the most fundamental forms a single monosyllable did service equally for noun, adjective, verb and adverb and that man in his earliest use of speech probably made his mind little or no conscious difference between these various uses. We see the word vrka in modern Sanskrit used only as a noun  signifying wolf; in the Vedas simply tearing or a itself the fundamental core of the sense. But I think it can be shown that even in the Vedic times men using the word vrka had the sense of the root vrc foremost in their minds and it was that root which to their mentality was the rigid fixed significant part of speech; the full word being still fluid and depending for its use on the association wakened by the root it contained. If that  be so, we can partly see why words remained fluid in their sense, varying according to the particular idea wakened by the root-sound in the mentality of the speakers.

One can see also why this root itself was fluid not only in its significances, but in its use and why even in the formed and developed word the nominal, adjectival, verbal and adverbial uses were, even in the comparatively late stage of speech we find in the Vedas, so imperfectly distinguished, so little rigid and separate, so much  run into each other. We get back always to the root as the determining unit of language. In the particular inquiry we have before us, the basis for a science of language, we make a most important advance. We need not enquire   why vrka meant to the early Aryan-speaking races and why it bore the particular significance or significances we actually  find embedded in it. We have not to ask why dolabra in Latin mean axe, dalmi in Sanskrit means Indra’s theunderbolt, dalapa and dala are applied to weapons, or dalanam meaning crushing or Delphi in Greek is the name given to a place of caverns and ravines, but we may confine ourselves to an enquiry into the nature of the mother-root dal of which all these different but cognate uses are the result.

Not that  the variations noted have no importance but their importance is minor and subsidiary. We may indeed divide the history of speech-origins into two parts, the embryonic into which research must be immediate as of the first importance, the structural  which is less important and therefore may be kept for subsequent and subsidiary enquiry. In the first we note the roots of speech and inquire how  vrc came to mean to tear, dal to split or crush, whether arbitrarily or modification and additions by which those roots grow into developed words, word-groups, word-families and word-clans and why those modifications and additions had  the effect on sense and use which we find them to have exercised, why the termination ana turns dal  into an adjective or a noun and what is the source and sense of the various terminations aabra, bhi, bha, (del)phoi, aan ( Greek oon) and ana.
Comments: ( Loga)

Aurobindo makes a very important  point here  when he notes that the development of syntactical and morphological aspects also belong to the field of Historical Linguistics. The reconstructive linguistics has focused  more on the Lexical correspondences than on the  embryonic or archaic forms of the grammatical  units and how a word initially may serve  in several grammatical functions without any declentions and how in the course of time the grammar of the word itself may change. I case in point is  the Su. enem, inim  which serves as noun meaning words. However in course of time it has developed into the verb Ta. en, enal : to say.

The evolution of Noun Morphology and Verb Morphology and how they are related to the sense of Time is also very important field to inquire into and I believe, something beyond the reaches of reconstructive linguistics. It appears that Time consciousness emerged initially more in the sense Temporality, the Intentional Time and only later they differentiated and grew into the tense -- the past present and future. We see an intermediate stage in Sumerian. Consider the following sentence:

Sulgi (hymn B)

111. ki-gir-gin-na-mu nig mu-un-gar-gar ( (That ) I kept deposited in my library)

*Ta. Kiiz kiir kaNNa moo nika munkaalkaal
Here while the words ‘mun’ and ‘kaal/kaar” are still available in Tamil, but  the verbal construction such as mun-kaalkaal is not the standard and exists only in frozen forms  such as mun-eeRu, mun-nookku  etc. The word ‘mun ‘has several senses : in front, before, intentions etc. Here in the  Su.. use  it perhaps means ‘intentional’  and along with it temporality of time consciousness. But in course of time, the TENSES evolved and the same notion is expressed  now as  ‘kaal iddeen ‘ that also conveys the sense of the past.

I think this dynamics of the evolution of Time consciousness and how they in fact shaped Verb Morphology and hence also Noun Morphology can be adequately studied only on the model of Evolutionary Historical Linguistics that Aurobindo is very clearly proposing here.


Sri Aurobindo

 The Origins of Aryan Speech

This superior  importance  of the root in early language  to the formed word is one of those submerged facts of language the neglect of which has been one of the chief causes of philology’s scientific abortiveness as a science. The first comparative philologists  made, it seems to me, a fatal mistake when, misled by the wider preoccupation with the formed word, they fixed on the correlation pitaa, pateer, vater, father as the clef, or the muulamantra, of their science and began to argue from it to all sorts of sound or unsound conclusions. The real clef, the real correlation is to be found in this other agreement, dalbi, dalana, dolabra, dolon, delphi , leading to the idea of a common mother-root, common word-families, common word-clans, kindred word-nations, or, as we call them , languages. And if it had been also noticed that in all these languages dal means also pretence or fraud and has been other common or kindred significance and some attempt made to discover the reason for one sound having these various significant uses, the foundation of a real  Science of Language might have been formed. We should incidentally have discovered, perhaps, the real connections of the ancient languages and the common mentality of the so-called Aryan peoples. We find dolabra in Latin for axe; we find no corresponding word in Greek or  Sanskrit for axe;  to argue thence that the Aryan forefathers had not  invented or adopted the axe as weapon before their dispersion, is to land oneself in a region of futile and nebulous uncertainties and rash inferences. But when we have noted that dolabra in Latin, dolon in Greek, dala, dalapa and dalmi in Sanskrit were all various derivatives freely developed from dal to split, and all used for some kind of weapon, we get hold of a fruitful and luminous certainty. We see the common or original mentality working, we see the apparently free and loose yet really regular processes by which words were formed; we see too that not the possession of the same identical formed words, but the selection of a root word and of one among several children of the same root word to express a particular object  or idea was the secret both of the common element and of the large and free variation that we actually find of the vocabulary of the Aryan languages.

Comments ( Loga)

The idea that Historical Linguistics must attend to word radicals for it to be scientific  is something we have to remind ourselves here. It should also be noted that PavaNar has done this  kind of linguistics  and whose conclusions receive additional support form the identification that Sumerian is Archaic Tamil

Now  something  about dal,  that Aurobindo takes as one of the roots of the so-called Aryan languages. We note here there is  Su. dal (> Ta. taL : to push) and Ta. tuL: to bore , both of which lend themselves for the formation of words related weapons. The Latin dalabra sounds so much like Ta. tullabaaram:  the balance , the weighing machine

I  am not sure what conclusions to make here  except to note that more extensive studies of Sumerian is required even with the study verbal roots.



Sri Aurobindo

 The Origins of Aryan Speech

I have said enough to show the character of the enquiry which I propose to pursue in the present work. This character arises necessarily from the very nature of the problems we have before us, the processes by which language took birth and formation. In the physical sciences we have a simple and homogeneous material of study; for, however complex may be the forces or constituents at work, they are all of one nature  and obey one class of laws; all the constituents are forms developed by the variation of material ether, all the forces are energies of these ethereal vibrations which have either knotted themselves into these formal constituents of objects and are at work in them or else still work freely upon them from outside. But in the mental sciences we are confronted with heterogeneous material and heterogeneous forces and action of forces; we have to deal first with a physical material and medium, the nature and action of which by itself would be easy enough to study and regular enough in its action, but for the second element, the mental agency working in and upon its physical medium and material.

We see a cricket ball flying through the air, we know the elements of action and statics that work into and upon its flight and we can tell easily enough either by calculation or judgement not only in what direction it will pursue its flight, but where it will fall. We see a bird flying through the air, -- a physical object like the cricket ball flying through the same physical  medium; but we know neither in what direction it will fly, nor where it will alight. The material  is the same, a physical body, the medium is the same, the physical atmosphere; to a certain extent even the energy is the same, the Physical Pranic energy, as it is called in our philosophy, inherent in matter. But another force not physical  has seized on this physical force, is acting in it and on it and so far as the physical  medium will allow, fulfilling itself through it.  This force is mental energy, and itsa presence suffices to change the pure or molecular Pranic energy we find in the cricket ball into mixed or nervous Pranic energy we find in the bird.

Comments ( Loga)

Aurobindo talks about the most primitive elements of language being  “ energies of these ethereal vibrations” by which I take it  that he means the mantras. This reminds us of the Hierarchical Theory of Language that has been well developed in the Agamas and by the  Tamil Saivite philosophers. They recognise the audible form as Vaikari, the stuff of historical linguistics. But this has as its Deep Structure or basis, the Paisyaanti, this in turn the Mattimai, then Cukkumai and finally the Aticuukkumai . At the level of Aticuukkumai , there is only AUM, the Primordial Logos by the further differentiations of which  the later forms of languages are born.  Behind the graphical forms of language as in mythologies and dreams, behind the audio forms language as in the normal speech lie the workings of Mantras, cognitive demons that account for semantics  syntactics and word morphology of languages.

Thus over and above  the historical linguistics there is also the Genetic  Linguistics  -- how languages are evolved though the differentiations of the same set of basic and primordial mantras. Linguistics as belonging to the field of Mantrayana  has been foreign to the West throughout  its history  though in modern times with the Cyber Space  of Computer Science providing the concrete models , not something mystical or unintelligible ( though some swajis would deliberately mystify the issues to create an auro of divinity  around themselves)

The traditional Mantrayana  also has become something very degenerate , just another kind shamanistic magic - a tool to cheat the gods to attain what one desires.  Against this the Mantrayana of Timular outlined in the Fourth Tantra of Tirumantiram,  stands out as unique in its extensive coverage as well as the Hermeneutic Scientific temper it discloses.

The most outstanding achievement of Indian Science is Mantrayana and it still remains what India can offer the world . The world is also quite ready to appreciate it in view of  the familiarity of Cyber Space now.

Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

But if   we could so develop our mental perceptions as to be able to estimate by judgement or measure by calculation the force of nervous energy animating the bird at the moment of its flight, even then we could not determine its direction or goal. The reason is that there is not  only a difference in the  energy, but a difference in the agency. The agency is the mental power dwelling in the merely physical object, the power of a mental will which is not only indwelling but to a certain extent free.

There is an intention in the bird’s flight; if we can perceive that intention, we can then judge whither it will fly, where it will alight, provided always that it does not change its intention. The cricket ball is also thrown by a mental agent with an intention, but that agent being external and not indwelling, the ball cannot, once it is propelled in a certain direction, with a certain force, change that direction or exceed that force unless turned or driven forward by a new object it meets in its flight. In itself it is not free. The bird is also propelled by a mental agent with an intention, in a certain direction, with a certain force of nervous energy in its flight. Let nothing change in the mental will working it and its flight may possibly be estimated and fixed like the cricket ball’s.  It also may be turned by an object meeting it, a tree or a danger in the way, an attractive object out of the way, but the mental power dwells within and is, as we should say, free to choose whether it shall be turned aside or not, whether it shall continue its way or not. But also it is free entirely to change its original intention without any external reasons, to increase or diminish, to use its output of nervous energy in the act, to employ it in a direction and towards a goal which are quite foreign to the original object  of the flight. We can study and estimate the physical and nervous forces it uses, but we cannot make a science of the bird’s flight unless we go behind matter and material force and study the nature of this conscious agent and the laws, if any, which determines, annul or restrict its apparent freedom.

Some Comments ( Loga)

It is very clear that Aurobindo is advocating not only Mantrayana but also the study of Linguistics as belonging not  to the positive with its physicalism but  to the  hermeneutic Sciences where what are sought after are INTENTIONS. This also brings in  along with it the notion of Speech Act, that every use of language  is a way of acting, a notion very ancient in India. They have classified actions into mental ( Manam ) verbal ( mozi) and bodily ( mey).  The Nadya satras contain more  extensive analysis of acts especially the symbolic acts.The flight of the bird is an action while that of ball thrown is simply  a response consequent upon an action on it by an agent. This carries the implication that  the shape of  language  the phonological semantic and syntactic, cannot be divorced from the INTENTIONS  for every use of language is an ACT where intentions are communicated. The speech of  a person discloses his INTENTIONS and which are understood by those who hear him and a RE-ACTION or reply follows and which is consistent with the perceived intentions. Thus language takes its shape in DISCOURSE and linguistics must not divorce language from its  discourse embeddings. This carries the implications that Historical Linguistics by right should focus on discourse and not  just simply on lexicon which may not give us a true picture of language. Languages evolve and the changes take place because of the demands COMMUNICATION makes and hence specimens of discourses  the fossilized and the present must be collected and compared to mark out the stages of evolutionary development and language family identifications.
The study of  languages in terms of Speech Acts, it should be noted, brings it into Mantrayana  where  the building bocks of  languages are ‘ezuttu’ as they in Tamil, that which causes consciousness to arise. It is also called   aksara meaning that which makes movement possible ( < aak +sara  =  cause there to be movement)


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

Philology is the attempt to form such a mental science, - for language has this twofold aspect ; its material is physical, the sounds formed by the human  tongue workings on the air vibrations; the energy using it is nervous, the molecular Pranic  activity of the brain using the vocal agents and itself used and modified by mental energy, the nervous impulse to express, to bring out of the crude material of sensation the clearness and preciseness of the idea; the agent using it is a mental will, free so far as we can see, but free within the limits of its physical material to vary and determine its use, for that purpose, of the range of vocal sound. In order to arrive at the laws which have governed the formation of any given human tongue, -- and my pirpose now is not to study the origins of human speech generally, but the origins of Aryan speech , -- we must examine, first, the way in which the instrument of vocal sound has been determined and used by the agent, secondly, the way in which the relation of the particular ideas to be expressed to the particular sound or sounds which express it, has been determined.  There must always be these two elements, the structure of the language, its seeds, formation and growth, and the psychology of the use of the structure.

Some Comments ( Loga)

It appears to me that Aurobindo is not keeping to the principles he has enunciated  earlier and falling to the conventional ways in which  language came into being among the human beings as a marriage between sounds and meanings.  For the vibrations that he talks about , if taken as the ezuttu or aksaras, then they are actually mantric syllables and from which languages are developed into various more differentiated forms. The ezuttu are the primordial input from the Logos and contains within them both the meanings  sound  and graphical  forms just as the egg contains the whole chicken in the undifferentiated cuukkumai form. So the study of the origins of language -- any language for that matter -- must be ultimately traced to how the aksaras appeared in the communicative acts of the human beings and how gradually they became the oral language the written language and so forth. It is significant that the initial WRITING records of mankind are cave drawings and which later  assumed the form of  charms amulets and such other magical things. And they were  graphical in which  not only the natural events , like hunting and so forth were depicted but also the Mystic Diagrams like swastika and so forth. It is only  gradually the syllables in different words but the same in sound were recognized and the writing system developed consistent with it. Linguistics as such was contemporaneous with the development of the writing system.

The  ezuttu or aksaras as such seems to have planted the seeds of language and from the differentiation of which both speech and writing systems  seem to have developed, the writing coming very much later but nevertheless already contained as a possibility within the ezuttu.



Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

Alone of the Aryan tongues, the present structure of the Sanskrit language still preserves this original type of the Aryan structure. In this ancient tongue alone, we see not entirely in all the original forms, but in the original essential parts and rules of formation, the skeleton, the members, the entrails of this organism. It is through this study, then, of Sanskrit, especially aided by whatever light we can get from the more regular and richly-structured among the other Aryan languages, that we must seek for our origins. The structure we find is one of extraordinary initial simplicity and also of extraordinary  mathematical and scientific regularity of formation.  We have in Sanskrit four open sounds or pure vowels, a, i, u,  r with their lengthened forms, aa, ii,uu, and  rr,  ( we have to mention but may omit for practical purposes the rare vowel lr ) supplemented by two other open sounds which  the grammarians are probably right in regarding as impure vowels or modifications of  i and u ; they are the vowels e and o, each with its farther modification into ai and au. Then we have five symmetrical Vargas or classes of closed sounds or consonants, the guttural, k kh g gh n, the palatals c ch j jh nj , the cerebrals, answering approximately to the English dentals, t th d dh N ; the  pure dentals answering to the Celtic and continental dentals we find in Irish and French, Spanish or Italian t th d dh, n and the labials, p ph b bh m .

Each of these classes consists of a hard sound, k, c,  t(.),t p with its aspirates, kh ch t(.)h th ph , a corresponding sound g, j d(.), d , b with its aspirates gh jh d(.)h, dh, bh and a class n, nj, N n_ , m . But of these nasal only the last three have any separate existence or importance; the others are modifications of the geneal nasal sound, m, n, which are found only in conjunction with the other consonants of their class and are brought into existence by that conjunction.

Some Comments ( Loga)

First of all we must point out that Sanskrit even as available in Rig Veda may not be the earliest form of the language and hence may not contain the primitive and pure forms. The language of Rig Veda appears to be a later variant  of Sumerian which is certainly Archaic  Tamil. This means the categorization of Sanskrit and Tamil as belonging to  different language families collapses. Not only that  both are different branches of the SAME embryonic language , the Sumerian which is certainly MORE Archaic than either Sanskrit or Classical  Tamil. This means Sumerian contains  the EARLIER morphological syntactical and other such  linguistic elements within itself a matter that we have to take into consideration in any study of Sanskrit or Tamil

Another question is about the origins  of categories used for such studies that Aurobindo does not mention here ( though he might have elsewhere) . The  categories of Vowels Consonants  Verb Phrase Noun Phrase  Prepositions Case Particles and so forth common to both Panini and Tolkappiyar seem to have  had its slow  beginnings among the Sumerians who fashioned the  cuneiform script that was in its later stages of development  syllabic,  having evolved from being  logographic and so forth.  Thus the Grammatical Categories  of Linguistics was developed along with improving the SCRIPT, a feature  we see very clearly in Tolkaappiyam. Thus  perhaps the linguistic conventions among  Sanskrit  grammarians probably originated from the Sumerians or their descendents and who were also keen in developing the SCRIPT as well.


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

 The cerebral class is also a peculiar class; they  have so close a kinship to the dental both in sound and in use that they may almost be regarded as modified dentals rather than an original separate class. Finally, in addition to the ordinary vowels and consonant we have a class composed of the four liquids y being semi-vowel form of I , v of u r of r(.) l of lr(.), -- this semi-vowel character of r and l is the reason why in Latin prosody they have not always the full value of the consonant, why, for instance, the u in volunteris is optionally long or short; we have the triple sibilation s~, palatal, s(.) cerebral, s dental; we have the pure aspirate, h. With the possible exception of the cerebral class and the variable  nasal , it can be hardly be doubted, I think, that the Sanskrit alphabet represents the original vocal instrument of Aryan Speech. Its regular, symmetrical and methodical character is evident and might tempt us to see in it a creation of some scientific intellect, if we did not know that Nature is a certain portion of her pure physical action has precisely this regularity, symmetry and fixity and that the mind, at any rate in its earlier unintellectual action, when man is more guided by the sensation and impulse and hasty perception, tends to bring in the element of irregularity and caprice and not a greater method and symmetry.

We may even say, not absolutely, but within the range of linguistic facts and periods available to us, the greater the symmetry and unconscious scientific regularity, the more ancient the stage of the language. The advanced stages of language show an increasing detrition, delinquencies, capricious variation, the loss of useful sounds, the passage, sometimes transitory, sometimes permanent of slight and unnecessary variations of the same sound to the dignity of separate letters. Such a variation, unsuccessful in permanence can be seen in the Vedic modification of the soft cerebral d(.) into a cerebral liquid l(.). This sound disappears in later Sanskrit, but has fixed itself in Tamil and Marathi. Such is the simple instrument out of which the majestic and expressive harmonics of the Sanskrit language have been formed.

Some Comments ( Loga)


It is strange that Aurobindo should consider that the advanced stages of languages show increasing delinquencies capricious variations and so forth. Certainly this is quite questionable and perhaps a mistaken notion of general linguistics arrived at through taking Sanskrit as a model, a language which deliberately  set itself barriers for change by isolating itself from the Prakirit. Certainly this is  very sophisticated move in the history of language , a sophistication that presupposes millenniums of effort at regularising the very structure of language. However this special case  should be noted and NOT generalized to all languages.

Also overlooked is the role of WRITING in making a language more scientific in its organisation for writing makes the language an OBJECT of study , of objective discussions and which itself is a process that brings the scientific dimensions into it. It  may be possible that every language has already within it a rationality for no language can allow chaos to prevail for then communication and transmission will become impossible. That language is  a vehicle of communication as well tradition itself already a factor that slows down the capricious variations that can enter it and make it diverge and branch out from its archaic form. In this writing has also an important role. The development of SCRIPT which is already inherent to language, may introduce additional elements that block off unwanted variations . This may account for the fact that despite a gap f millenniums Sumerian is recognisable as Archaic Tamil

Writing , it must also be noted, may lead to MORE scientific organisation of language , as it seems to have happened in Tamil. The transformation of certain related phonemes , the sibilants here, into allophone and the same letter-symbol being  used but sounded differently on reading is a sophistication that perhaps has taken place because of the need to develop a script that is economical as well adequate to the genius of the language.


Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

The use of the  instrument by the earlier Aryans for the formation of words seems to have been equally symmetrical, methodical and in close touch with the physical facts of vocal expressions. These letters are used as so many seed-sound; out of them primitive root-sound are formed by the simple combination of the four vowels or less frequently the modified vowels with each of the consonants, the two dependent nasal ng and nj and the cerebral nasal N excepted. Thus with d as a basic sound, the early Aryans were able to make for themselves root-sounds which they used indifferently as nouns, adjectives, verbs or adverbs to expressive root-ideas,  da, daa, di, dii, du, duu dr(.) and dr~(.)

All these roots did not endure as separate words, but those which did, left an often vigorous progeny being them which preserve in themselves the evidence for the existence of their progenitor. Especially have the roots formed by the short a passed out of use without single exception. In addition the Aryans could form if they chose the modified root-sounds de dai do dau.  The vowel bases  were also used , since the nature of speech permitted it, as root-sounds and root-words. But obviously the kernel of language, though it might suffice for primitive beings, is too limited in range to satisfy the self-extensive tendency of human speech. We see therefore a class of secondary root-sounds and root-words grow up from the primitive root by the further addition to it of any of the consonant sounds with its necessary or natural modification of the already existing root-idea.

Comments: ( Loga)

Aurobindo notes an important feature  here that needs to  be considered in greater depth. At the initial stages  a single word may be used as a verb a noun an adjective an adverb and so forth. In fact some   features that have been noted in the development of the linguistic competence of a child may even be applicable to the evolution of human speech also. Perhaps at the earliest stages a single sound with meaning was communicating the whole meaning of a sentence and  such utterances functioning as single-sound discourses. Only gradually it must have been differentiated into Noun Phrases Verb Phrases  and then these into adjectival adverbial and so forth. But it must be noted that such developments were contingent upon the USE of language for communication in the living stream of life. The USES of language for different purposes, as speech acts must have been  instrumental in the syntactic and semantic development  that show themselves in the greater differentiation of the grammatical functions.

Along with this we must  also note the immense relevance of BODY LANGUAGE for just as a child speaks initially with GESTURES so perhaps it was with human beings themselves. Before meanings became verbal they were nonverbal body language features, language of gestures.

Again in the Indian tradition there is an extensive analysis of MUDRAS and at the final stages verbal language itself is transcended and the highest communication takes place withthese Mudras accompanied by Deep Silence as well.

Against this the question arises as the adequacy of Sanskrit as a language that can disclose the hidden truths about the evolution of language even if confined to the “Aryan” language. For Sanskrit, a least since the days of Panini left the steam of life and became a FROZEN form , dead in a way for it was torn off from the living stream of life  that continuously RENEWS and modifies not only the semantics but also the syntax. Only a language that has a history of recorded forms and still living as an integral part of life where body language interacts with nonverbal in the communicative acts,  can give us an idea of the evolution of Language. In this Tamil and Chinese stand out as special for they along with having a history of several millenniums still continue to be part of the stream of life.



Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

Thus on the basis of the now lost primitive root da, it was possible to have four guttural short secondary roots, dak, dakh, dag, dagh and four long daak, daakh, daag, daagh , which might be regarded either as separate words or long forms of the short root; so also eight palatal, eight cerebral, with the two nasal forms daN and daaN, making ten, ten dental, ten labial liquid, six sibilants and the two aspirate secondary roots.  It was possible also to nasalise any of these forms, establishing for instance, dank, dankh, dang and dangh.

It seems not unnatural to suppose that all these roots existed in the earlier forms of the Aryan Speech, but by the time of our first literary records, the greater number of them have disappeared, some leaving behind them a scanty or numerous progeny, others perishing with their frail descendents. If we take a single example, the primitive base root ma, we find ma itself dead but existing in the noun forms ma, maa, matah, matam, man,  existing only in the nasal form mank and its own descendants makara, makura, makula etc., and in tertiary formations makk and maks; makk still existing as root-word in the form makh and mankh; mag only in its descendents  and in its nasal forms mang, magh and its nasalised form mangh; mac still alive, but childless except in its nasal disguise manc; mach dead with its posterity, maj alive in its descendents and its nasal form manj, majih wholly obsolete.


Some Comments ( Loga)

The primitive Aryan Speech  -- at any rate that which is presupposed in the evolution of Rigkrit, the language of Rig Veda appears to me to be Sumerian, also Archaic Tamil. Thus Sumerian is the historical primitive out of which both Classical Tamil and Rigkrit seem to have evolved.  With this understanding bulk of what Aurobindo says here about the formations of primary and secondary root words can be tested by a careful study that awaits future scholarship. Let me just point out that the primitive root forms may be quite UNDIFFERENTIATED just as  the contents of the egg remains while containing all but undifferentiated into separate and distinct uRuppu or component parts of creature that emerges from it upon maturation.  In Indian circles this notion is known Cuukkumai vs Tuulam. In Mantrayana  of Tirumular this notion  plays an important role. The Primordial and fundamental LOGOS , aum or Om is that which has become differentiated  into the  aksaras, the ezuttu , first into five Na-Ma-Si-Vaa- ya and then into  the 51 and then to a countless number combining and permuting in various ways and fusing with Natam and Bindu to generate the physical and mental objects  that populate the universe.

Similarly the root words may be undifferentiated initially but carrying different meanings. In course of time the phonological differentiations may have come about because of the necessity for effective communication, a factor in the evolution of word morphology overlooked by Aurobindo, perhaps because Sanskrit ceased to be a language of natural communication at least since the days of PaNini. Sanskrit is a FROZEN language and has been so for more two thousand years  isolating itself from  earthly commerce and hence perhaps historically very significant just as an archeological finding is significant for unearthing some things of the past.

However prior to this and about the time of Rig Veda , it was a living tongue having evolved somewhat from Archaic Tamil or Sumerian. One of the interesting findings ( very tentative at the moment) is that the phonology of Sumerian is CLOSER to Classical Tamil than it is even to Rigkrit. Sumerian does not seem to have aspirates while the nasalisation seems to be optional. We can cite such words  dug  ( Ta. tukku, tuungku ) dug-gu ( Ta. tongku ) and the fact that sometimes the ‘g’ is written as ‘n’ suggesting the primordial sound was ‘ng”. We have ‘sag’ written also as ‘san’ and  later “tan’ (Ta. caan, taan) etc. it may be possible that the primordial morphology was ‘dung-u’ and ‘sang-u’ and that only later the purely nasalised and denasalised forms emerged.

Thus it may that the many aspirates  and  sibilants that distinguish Sanskrit phonology from that of Classical Tamil were further differentiations of what was IMPLICIT in the primordial forms necessitated because of the different roles they were demanded to play.  While Sk seems to have proliferated such differentiations Tamil seems to have controlled and kept it to the minimum necessitated perhaps by effectivity in communication both the written and the verbal




Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

[Note: the Devanagri versions omitted]


 We find in the long forms ma  and maaks  as separate roots and words with maak , maakh , maagh, mac (wr~), and maach  as their substantial parts, but more usually deriving, it would seem, from a lengthening of the short root, than from the long form as a separate root. Finally, tertiary roots have been formed less regularly but still with some freedom by the addition of semi-vowels to the seed ­sound in either primitive or secondary root thus giving us roots like dhyai , dhvan , sru , hlãd (~T~), or of other consonants where the combination was possible, giving us roots like stu, scyu, hrad etc., or else by the addition of another consonant to the final of the secondary root, giving us

forms like vail  majj  etc.



These are the pure root-forms. But a sort of illegitimate tertiary root is formed by the vowel guNa or modification, as for example, of the vowel r. into ar , and r.- into aar , so that we have the alternative forms rc  and arc or ark ; the forms cars  and car  replacing cr.s. and cr. which are now dead, the forms mr.j and marj  etc. We find too, certain early tendencies of consonantal modifications, one has an initial tendency to get rid of the palatal c  ch  and j  jh , replace them by k  and g , a tendency entirely fulfilled in Latin, but arrested in the course of half fulfilment in Sanskrit.


This principle of guNa is of great importance in the study of the physical formation of the language and of its psychological development, especially as it introduces a first element of doubt and confusion into an otherwise crystal clearness of structure and perfect mechanic regularity of formation. The vowel guna or modification works by the substitution either of the modified vowel, e for i o  for u , so that we have from vi  the case form ves, veh. , from janu (~r~) the case form janoh., or of the pure semi-vowel sound y  for i ,v  for u  r  for r. , or a little impurely raa , so that from vi  we have the verbal form vyantah. , from su , the verbal form a~svah , from vr. (~) or vr.h the noun vraha , or else of the supported semi-vowel sound, ay  for i , av  for u , ar  for r. , al  for lr., so that we have from vi the noun vayas , from sru (‘i) the noun sravas (‘~~), from sr.  the noun saras, from kir.p  the noun kaipa . These forms constitute the simple gunation of the short vowel sounds a , i , u , r., lr.; in addition we have the long modification or vrddhi, an extension of the principle of lengthening which gives us the long forms of the words; we have ai or aay,  from i , au (a*) or aav from u, aar (an~) from r . aal  from lr., while a  has no vr.ddhi proper but only the lengthening a . The principal confusion that arises out of this primitive departure from simplicity of sound-development is the frequent uncertainty between a regular secondary root and the irregular gunated root.


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Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

[Note: the Devanagri versions omitted]



 We have, for instance, the regular root ar deriving from the primitive root a  and the illegitimate root ar  deriving from the primitive root r. ; we have the forms kala and kaala , which, if judged only by their structure, may derive either from kir. or from kal ; we have ayus  and aayus  which, similarly judged, may derive either from the root forms a  and a  or from the root forms u  and i . The main consonantal modifications in Sanskrit are structural and consist in the assimilation of like consonants, a hard sound becoming soft by association with a soft sound, as soft sound hard’ by association with a hard sound, aspirates being replaced in conjunction by the corres­ponding unaspirated sound and modifying their companion in return, e.g. lapsyate  and labdhum  from labh  substituted for labh-syate  and labh-tum , vyuuha  from vyuh  replacing vyuhta . Beyond this tendency to obey certain subtle but easily recognisable ten­dencies of mutual modification, which in themselves suggest only certain minor and unimportant doubts, the one really corruptive tendency in Sanskrit is the arrested impulse towards disappearance of the palatal family. This has gone so far that such forms as ketu  can be considered by Indian gramma­rians, quite erroneously, to proceed from the root cit  and not from the root kit  which is its natural parent. In reality, however, the only genuine palatal modifications are those in sandhi, which substitute k  for c , g  for j  at the end of a word or in certain combinations, e.g. lagna  for lajna , vaktr  for vactr , vakva  for vacva , the noun vãkya  from the root vac , the perfect cikaaya  and cikye  Side by side with these modificatory combinations we have regular forms, such as yajna, , vaacya  cicaya , cicye (f~4). It is even open to question whether the forms cikaaya  and cikye  are not rather from the root ki  than actual descen­dants from the parent root ci (1k) in whose nest they have found a home.




These elements of variation noted, we are in a position to follow the second stage in the flowering of speech from the root-

state to the stage in which we pass on by a natural transition to the structural development of language. So far we have a language formed of the simplest and most regular elements. The seed-sounds, eight vowels and their modifications four in number; five classes of consonants and the nasals; one quater­nary of liquids or semi-vowels: three sibilants; one aspirate based on each of these; their first developments, the primitive and parent roots, as from the seed-sound v , the primitive root-group va , vaa , vi , vii  vr. V~r. ( and possibly vu , vu , ye , vai , vo ,vau ;round each

primitive root its family of secondary roots, round the primitive va  its family, vak , vakh , vag , vagh ; vac , vach , vaj , vajh ; vat., vat.h , vad. Vad.h (~), vaN ; vat , vath , vad , vadh , van ; vap , vaph , vab , vabh , vam ; and possibly vay , var , val , vav ; va.s(~), vas. (~), vas (~), vah ; -- the eight or more families of this group forming a root-clan, with a certain variable number of tertiary dependents such as vane , vang  vand , valg vaths , vank , vraj , etc. Forty of these clans would constitute the whole range of primitive language. Each word would in the primitive nature of language, like each man in the primitive constitution of human society, fulfill at once several functions, noun, verb, adjective and adverb at once, the inflection of the voice, the use of gesture and the quickness of the instinct making up for the absence of delicacy and precision in the shades of speech. Such a language though of small compass would be one, it is clear, of great simplicity, of mechanical regu­larity of formation built up perfectly in its small range by the automatic methods of Nature, and sufficient to express the first physical and emotional needs of the human race. But the increas­ing demands of the intellect would in time compel a fresh growth of language and a more intricate flowering of forms. The first instrument in such a growth, the first in urgency, importance and time, would be the impulse towards distinguishing more formally between the action, the agent and the object, and therefore of establishing some sort of formal distinction, however vague at

first, between the noun-idea and the verb-idea. The second im­pulse, possibly simultaneous, would be towards distinguishing structurally, for it is possible that the various root forms of one family were already used for that object, between the various lines and shades of action, of establishing in modern language, tense forms, voices, moods. The third impulse would be towards the formal distinction of various attributes, such as number and gender, and various relations of the subject and object themselves to the action, of establishing case forms and forms of singularity, duality, plurality. The elaboration of special forms for adjective and adverb seems to have been a later, the latter in fact the latest of the operations of structural develop­ment, because in the early mentality the need of these distinctions was the least pressing.


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Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

[Note: the Devanagri versions omitted]



When we examine how the old Aryan speakers managed the satisfaction of these needs and this new and rich efflorescence of the language plant we find that Nature in them was perfectly faithful to the principle of her first operations and that the whole of the mighty structure of the Sanskrit language was built up by a very slight extension of her original movement. This extension was reared and made possible by the simple, necessary and in­evitable device of using the vowels a , i , ii  and r  with their long forms and modifications as enclitic or support sounds subsequently prefixed sometimes to the root, but at first used to form appendage sounds only. The Aryans by the aid of this device proceeded, just as they had formed root-words by adding the consonant sounds to the primitive root-sounds, by adding for instance d  or l  to va  had formed vad  and vol ~ so now to form structural sounds by adding to the developed root-word any of the same consonant sounds, pure or conjunct with others, with an enclitic sound either as the connective support or a formatory support or both, or else by adding the enclitic sound alone as a substantial appendage. Thus, having the root vad , they could form from it at their will by the addition of the consonant t , vadat , vadit , vadut , vadrt  or vadata , vadita , vaduta , vadrta , or vadati , vaditi vaduti , vadrti  or vadatu , vaditu , vadutuvadrtu , or else vadatri , vaditri , vadutri ; vadrtri  or else they could use the enclitic only and form vada , vadi , vadu , vadr , or they could employ the conjunct sounds tr , ty , tv , tm , tn , and produce such forms as vadatra , vadatya  vadatva  vadatma  vadatna .


As a matter of fact we do not find and would not expect to find all these possi­bilities actually used in the case of a single word. With the growth of intellectual richness and precision there would be a corresponding growth in the mental will-action and the super-session of the mechanical mind processes by more clearly and consciously selective mind processes. Nevertheless we do find practically all these forms distributed over the root-clans and families of the Aryan word-nation. We find the simple nominal forms built by the addition of the sole enclitic richly and almost universally distributed. The richness of forms is much greater in earlier Aryan speech than in later literature. From the root san  for instance, we find in Vedic speech all the forms sana , sani , sanu  (contracted into snu ~), but in later Sanskrit they have all disappeared. We find also in Veda variants like caratha and carutha raha  and ruuha , but in later Sanskrit caratha  has been rejected, rah  and ruuh  preserved but rigidly dis­tinguished in their significances. We find most nouns in possession of the a  noun form, some in possession of the i form, some in possession of the u  form. We find a preference for the simple hard consonant over the aspirate and the soft p  is more frequent in structural nouns than ph  or bh  but both ph  and bh  occur, p  is more frequent than b , but b  occurs. We find certain consonants preferred over others, especially k , t , n , s  either in themselves or in their combinations; we find certain appen­dage forms like as , in , an , at , fri, vat , van , formalised into regular nominal and verbal terminations. We see double appendages, side by side with the simple jitva , we may have jitvara , jitvan  etc. Throughout we see or divine behind the present state of the Sanskrit language a wide and free natural labour of forma­tion followed by a narrowing process of rejection and selection. But always the same original principle, either simply or com­plexly applied, with modification or without modification of the root-vowels and consonants, is and remains the whole basis and means of noun-structure.


Comments ( Loga)


This penetrative insights into the phonological processes underlying the formation of words , divied into Nouns and Verbs, while quite interesting, at least part of it seems to merely conjectural For in Sumerian we find that the semivowels  v w and y were very late in appearance. Quite often they also appear as modifications of m b and so forth. Thus what was rendered as

a-a initially came to written as ai-ia only during the time of Sulgi ie. 2000 BC. The same goes for ‘w’ which seems to more prominent in Akkadian. All these simply means that there may not textual evidences for some the things Aurobindi says in the above passages. The situation may be more complex than he envisages and we have to take up the whole issue along with the scholarly studies of Sumerian phonology.


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Sri Aurobindo

The Origins of Aryan Speech

[Note: the Devanagri versions omitted]




In the variations of the verb, in the formation of case we find always the same principle. The root conjugates itself by the addition of appendages such as mi , si , ti  etc., m , y , h , ta , va , (all of them forms used also for nominal structures), either simply or with the support of the enclitic a , i , or rarely u , short, lengthened or modi­fied, giving us such forms as vacmi , vaks.i , vadasi , vadaasi , vadat ,vadati , vaaati . In the verb forms other devices are used such as the insertion of an appendage like n, na , nu or ni  in prefer­ence to the simple vowel enclitic; the prefixing of the enclitic a  or augment to help out the fixing of tense significance; the reduplication of the essential part of the root in various ways, etc. We notice the significant fact that even here Vedic Sanskrit is much richer and freer in its variations. Sanskrit is yet more narrow, rigid and selective, the former using alternative forms like bhavati, bhavaah. , bhavate . The latter rejects all but the first. The case inflexions differ from the verb forms only in the appendages prefixed, not in their principle or even in themselves; as , am , as , os , am  are all verbal as well as nominal inflexions. But subs­tantially the whole of the language with all its forms and inflex­ions is the inevitable result of the use by Nature in man of one single rich device, one single fixed principle of sound formation employed with surprisingly few variations, with an astonishingly fixed, imperative and almost tyrannous regularity but also a free and even superfluous original abundance in the formation. The inflexional character of Aryan speech is itself no accident but the inevitable result, almost physically inevitable, of the first seed selection of sound-process, that original apparently trifling selec­tion of the law of the individual being which is at the basis of all Nature’s infinitely varied regularities. Fidelity to the principle already selected being once observed the rest results from th

very nature and necessities of the sound-instrument that is employed. Therefore, in the outward form of language, we see the operation of a regular natural law proceeding almost precisely as Nature proceeds in the physical world to form a vegetable or an animal genus and its species.


We have taken one step in the perception of the laws that govern the origin and growth of language; but this step is nothing or little unless we can find an equal regularity, an equal reign of fixed process on the psychological side, in the determining of the relation of particular sense to particular sound. No arbitrary or intellectual choice but a natural selection has determined the growth and arrangement of the sounds, simple or structural, in their groups and families, is it an arbitrary or intellectual choice or a law of natural selection that has determined their signi­ficances? If the latter be true and it must be so, if a Science of Language be possible, then having this peculiar arrangement of significant sounds, certain truths follow inevitably. First: the seed-sound v , for example, must have in it something inherent in it which connected it in man’s mind originally in the first natural state of speech, with the actual senses borne by the primitive roots va , vaa , vi , vii , vu , vuu, yr. , nr-, in the primitive language. Secondly, whatever variations there are in sense between these roots must be determined originally by some inherent tendency of significance in the variable or vowel element, a , aa, i , ii, u , uu, r., r-. Thirdly, the secondary roots depending in va , vac , vakh , vanj , vam , vol , vap, vah , vah, vas , etc. must have a

common element in their significances and, so far as they varied originally, must have varied as a result of the element of difference, the consonantal termination c ,j , m , l.  , p , h ,  s , respectively. Finally in the structural state of language, although as a result of the growing power of conscious selection other determining factors may have entered into the selection of particular significances for the particular words, yet the original factor cannot have been entirely inopera­tive and such forms as vadana , vadatra , vada , etc. must have been governed in the development of their sense dominantly by their substantial and common sound-element, to a certain extent by their variable and subordinate element. I shall attempt to show by an examination of the Sanskrit language that all these laws are actually true of Aryan speech, their truth borne out or often established beyond a shadow of doubt by the facts of the language.