Sri Aurobindo
Hymns to Mystic Fire
SABCL -11

WORD-FORMATION

from

Material for a full Philological Reconstruction of
the old Aryabhasha from which the Indo-Aryan
and Dravidian languages are derived.

 


 

Word Formation

 

THE language of man is not framed on earth, but in heaven, as indeed are all things that the earth-soul uses in this mortal journey. By the threefold energy of eternal truth, manifesting force and sustaining delight everything is created as a type in the world of ideas, the mahat of the ancients, in the principle of self-manifest and perfectly arranged knowledge, it is diversely developed by the more discursive but less sure-footed agencies of intellectual mind. Imagination hunts after new variations, memory and association corrupt, analogy perverts, sensation, emotion, pleasure seize violent and partial satisfaction. Hence, change, decay, death, rebirth, — the law of the world. All this takes place in the descent into the world of mind and the world of matter. Therefore mankind has one original language based on certain eternal types of sound, developed by certain laws of rhythmic variation, perfectly harmonious and symmetrical in its structure and evolution. This is the devabhāṣā and is spoken in the Satyayuga. Then it suffers change, detrition, collapse. Innumerable languages, dialects, vernaculars are born. The guardians of the sacred language attempt always to bring back the early purity, but even they cannot do it; they reconstruct it from time to time, compromise with the new tendencies, preserve something of the skeleton, lose the flesh, blood, sinew, much of the force and spirit. This reconstructed language they call Sanskrit; all else Prakrit.

 

     The backbone of the skeleton is composed of the roots of the original language that survive; the rest is the various principles of word-formation. Accordingly in the languages of the world which are nearest to the old secret language, the ancient Aryan languages, there is one common element, the roots, the elemental word-formations from the roots and so much of the original significance as survives variety of mental development playing on different lines and to different purposes. The object of this treatise is to provide a reasoned basis, built up on the

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facts of the old languages, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, German, Celtic, Tamil, Persian, Arabic, for a partial reconstruction, not of  the original devabhāṣā, but of the latest forms commonly original to the variations in these languages. I shall take the four languages, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Tamil first, to build up my scheme and then support it by the four other tongues. I omit all argument and handling of possible objections, because the object of this work is suggestive and constructive only, not apologetic. When the whole scheme is stated and has been worked out on a more comprehensive scale than is possible in the limits I have here set myself, the time will come for debate. Over an uncompleted exegesis, it would be premature.

 

     I shall first indicate the principle on which the roots of the devabhāṣā were formed. All Shabda (vāk) as it manifests out of the ākāśa by the force of mātariśvan, the great active and creative energy, and is put in its place in the flux of formed things (apas) carries with it certain definite significances (artha). These are determined by the elements through which it has passed. Śabda appears in the ākāśa, travels through vāyu, the second element in which sparśa is the vibration; by the vibrations of sparśa, it creates in tejas, the third element, certain forms, and so arrives into being with these three characteristics, first, certain contactual vibrations, secondly, a particular kind of tejas or force, thirdly, a particular form. These determine the bhāva or general sensation it creates in the mind and from that sensation develop its various precise meanings according to the form which it is used to create.

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