language closer to Sanskrit

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Otto Kretschmer
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language closer to Sanskrit

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

If linguistic distance was to be measured, what language would be closer to Sanskrit, modern day Lithuanian or modern day Hindi?

Lithuanian as a whole has changed a lot less since Proto Balto-Slavic, if we taught someone who knows only Sanskrit bith Lithuanian and Hindi, chances are they would find Lithuanian easier.
Salmoneus
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Re: language closer to Sanskrit

Post by Salmoneus »

Unlikely, in my opinion. Lithuanian might look more grammatically familiar to a Sanskrit speaker - but the vocabulary would be very alien, I think.

Consider:

patnii - patnii - zhmona (wife)
pati - pati - vyras (husband)
maataa - maatr - motina (mother)
pitaa - pitr - tevas (father)
jaanvar - pashu - gyvuunas (animal)
machlii - matsya - zhuvis (fish)
ciriya - vi - paukshtis (bird)
saap - sarpa - gyvate (snake)
kiiraa - krmi - kirminas (worm)
dandaa - danda - lazda (stick)
pattaa - patra - lapas (leaf)
camrii - carman - oda (skin)
anda - anda - kiaushinis (egg)
siing - srnga - ragas (horn)
sir - siras - galva (head)
akh - aksi - akis (eye)
dil - hrdaya - shirdis (heart)

That's (excusing nonstandard and lazy spelling) Hindi - Sanskrit - Lithuanian

The Sanskrit speaker would struggle to understand either language at all, but, particularly written down, might vaguely grasp the slight gist of what the Hindi speaker was saying - they'd recognise a bunch of words, even if not enough to make the meaning clear. The Lithuanian speaker, on the other hand, might as well be speaking gibberish!

The phonology of Lithuanian would also be tricky for the Sanskrit-speaker. Lithuanian has a systematic palatalisation contrast on all consonants (other than /j/). And while Sanskrit has three fricatives - all voiceless - Lithuanian has ten native fricatives, including a voicing distinction, plus another six found in fricatives, plus an absolutely ridiculous eight affricates. And Lithuanian retains a pitch accent, which might sound familiar to a Vedic Sanskrit speaker, but which had already been lost by the time of Classical Sanskrit.
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qwed117
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Re: language closer to Sanskrit

Post by qwed117 »

Salmoneus wrote: 27 Dec 2020 16:47 Unlikely, in my opinion. Lithuanian might look more grammatically familiar to a Sanskrit speaker - but the vocabulary would be very alien, I think.

Consider:

patnii - patnii - zhmona (wife)
pati - pati - vyras (husband)
maataa - maatr - motina (mother)
pitaa - pitr - tevas (father)
jaanvar - pashu - gyvuunas (animal)
machlii - matsya - zhuvis (fish)
ciriya - vi - paukshtis (bird)
saap - sarpa - gyvate (snake)
kiiraa - krmi - kirminas (worm)
dandaa - danda - lazda (stick)
pattaa - patra - lapas (leaf)
camrii - carman - oda (skin)
anda - anda - kiaushinis (egg)
siing - srnga - ragas (horn)
sir - siras - galva (head)
akh - aksi - akis (eye)
dil - hrdaya - shirdis (heart)

That's (excusing nonstandard and lazy spelling) Hindi - Sanskrit - Lithuanian

The Sanskrit speaker would struggle to understand either language at all, but, particularly written down, might vaguely grasp the slight gist of what the Hindi speaker was saying - they'd recognise a bunch of words, even if not enough to make the meaning clear. The Lithuanian speaker, on the other hand, might as well be speaking gibberish!

The phonology of Lithuanian would also be tricky for the Sanskrit-speaker. Lithuanian has a systematic palatalisation contrast on all consonants (other than /j/). And while Sanskrit has three fricatives - all voiceless - Lithuanian has ten native fricatives, including a voicing distinction, plus another six found in fricatives, plus an absolutely ridiculous eight affricates. And Lithuanian retains a pitch accent, which might sound familiar to a Vedic Sanskrit speaker, but which had already been lost by the time of Classical Sanskrit.
FWIW, Hindi and most Indo-Aryan languages have a lot of tatsam and ardhatatsam borrowings that limit their distance from Sanskrit. "dil", a videshii word from Persian, shares an etymology with hrdaya, but also so does the tadbhav word hiyaa, and the tatsam word hirdaya. Lithuanian doesn't have that sort of reborrowing.
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Salmoneus
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Re: language closer to Sanskrit

Post by Salmoneus »

Thanks; I suspected that would be the case (the same thing happens in Latin/Romance) but didn't know.

I also suspect that in many cases where Hindi no longer has the original lexical item in its original sense, it probably still has that item in a more specific or analogical sense that would be recognisable to the Sanskrit speaker, whereas more of these terms will have been entirely lost, or drifted beyond any comprehension, in Lithuanian.
Otto Kretschmer
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Re: language closer to Sanskrit

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

WOuldn't Lithuanian grammar be esier for the Sanskrit speaker?

Both are synthetic languages while Hindi is analytic. Verb conjugations and nominal declensions in Lithuanian and Sanskrit are relatively similar.
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