Ashoka and Language

Feb 2018
1
India
Brahmi script was used during Ashoka's regin but what was the language used, was it Pali or Sanskrit? And what is the oldest known script in which Sanskrit was written?
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Brahmi script was used during Ashoka's regin but what was the language used, was it Pali or Sanskrit? And what is the oldest known script in which Sanskrit was written?
Neither. Asoka's edicts were typically written in Prakit languages, alog with one or 2 written in Greek. Prakrits were Middle Indo-Ayran vernacular langues of India.


Pali is generally thought to derive from Prakit languages, with a heavy influence of Sanskrit, but was a literary language not a vernacular language. Vernacular is a common daily spoken language.
 
Jul 2017
842
Crete
There was no Sanskrit during the reign of Ashoka, Sanskrit came much later
as an evolution of Ashoka, that was influenced by Ionic, Aramaic and Persian.

The name 'A-So-ka' (Ashoka) in Brahmi (Imperial Aramaic) script c.259 BCE


Imperial Aramaic


The same script of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
There was no Sanskrit during the reign of Ashoka, Sanskrit came much later
as an evolution of Ashoka, that was influenced by Ionic, Aramaic and Persian.

The name 'A-So-ka' (Ashoka) in Brahmi (Imperial Aramaic) script c.259 BCE


Imperial Aramaic


The same script of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Actually, for a change, I think I agree with much of what you said.

While Sanskrit as a literary language of science and philosophy did not exist. it might have existed as a strictly sacred language of religion, restricted solely to the priest, and not used by anyone else. Dr. Wendy Doniger thinks that Sansktiy was never a langunage of orfinary every day speech.

While I think most scholars believe the Brahmi script was derived from the Aramaic script, it is different from them. I have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls in person, and photographs of the Ashoka's edicts, and the 2 scripts are very different looking.
 
Apr 2018
1,562
Mythical land.
Actually, for a change, I think I agree with much of what you said.

While Sanskrit as a literary language of science and philosophy did not exist. it might have existed as a strictly sacred language of religion, restricted solely to the priest, and not used by anyone else. Dr. Wendy Doniger thinks that Sansktiy was never a langunage of orfinary every day speech.

While I think most scholars believe the Brahmi script was derived from the Aramaic script, it is different from them. I have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls in person, and photographs of the Ashoka's edicts, and the 2 scripts are very different looking.
actually most western scholars think that brahmi script is origin from aramaic,while most indian scholar think it be indigenous in origin
 
Jul 2017
842
Crete
Actually, for a change, I think I agree with much of what you said.

While Sanskrit as a literary language of science and philosophy did not exist. it might have existed as a strictly sacred language of religion, restricted solely to the priest, and not used by anyone else. Dr. Wendy Doniger thinks that Sansktiy was never a langunage of orfinary every day speech.

While I think most scholars believe the Brahmi script was derived from the Aramaic script, it is different from them. I have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls in person, and photographs of the Ashoka's edicts, and the 2 scripts are very different looking.

Darius I created Imperial Aramaic around 522 to 486 BCE and the Ashoka edicts date around 269 BCE to 232 BCE
and thus 200 year period, that's aught to be enough time for the script to diverge.

Bilingual Greek and Aramaic inscription by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka at Kandahar, Afghanistan, 3rd century BC.


No spaces between the words and the Aramaic inscription takes less room then Greek, this is the primary reason
why Greek was not a popular language among the merchants.


 

Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
4,856
India
Western Afghanistan was under Persian rule and later Greek rule so we can understand the use of Aramaic and Greek in Ashoka's inscriptions. Kharosthi Script was used in Gandhara and the language was Gandhari Prakrit. Beside the Brahmi was written Left to right, while Aramaic was written right to left like Arabic.

Moreover, the Indian phonology is complex and large. The Devanagari alphabets used for Hindi itself has 49 letters compared to just 23 letters used in English.
 
Jul 2017
842
Crete
Western Afghanistan was under Persian rule and later Greek rule so we can understand the use of Aramaic and Greek in Ashoka's inscriptions. Kharosthi Script was used in Gandhara and the language was Gandhari Prakrit. Beside the Brahmi was written Left to right, while Aramaic was written right to left like Arabic.

Moreover, the Indian phonology is complex and large. The Devanagari alphabets used for Hindi itself has 49 letters compared to just 23 letters used in English.
Phoenician was written Left to Right, Right to Left or Bi-directional
but they flipped the letters accordingly. Ancient Greek and Latin was
sometimes written that way.


 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Western Afghanistan was under Persian rule and later Greek rule so we can understand the use of Aramaic and Greek in Ashoka's inscriptions. Kharosthi Script was used in Gandhara and the language was Gandhari Prakrit. Beside the Brahmi was written Left to right, while Aramaic was written right to left like Arabic.

Moreover, the Indian phonology is complex and large. The Devanagari alphabets used for Hindi itself has 49 letters compared to just 23 letters used in English.
Although there are 26 letters used in English, English actual phonology is far more complex that that, with 40+ different sounds. English borrowed it's script from Latin, and did not add letters to the sounds not represented by the Latin letters, but used techniques in instead. So the 2 soounds of "the" don't have their own letter, but represented​ by "the". In the Old English runic alphabet which the Latin one replaced, did have unique letters for "the".

In early writing, going from.left to right or right to left was not standardize, so.some early Greek writing going.from left to right on one line, then right to left on the line just below.

When I look at the Brahmin script,. It looks quite a bit different from Aramaic, the Indian scholars might be right.
 
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Mar 2019
1,535
KL
actually if you look closely, there are many brahmi and phoenician/arahmaic symbols which seem graphically similar but phonetically opposite, it would not be the case if brahmi was derived from arahmaic, such is exactly the case with the greek letters whose sound values seem exactly the same as phoenician so there is not an iota of similarity between brahmi and arahmaic. There is also a delta type symbol in brahmi which doesnt seem to match with delta type symbol in phoenician.

a similar argument is infact made by SR Rao who has claimed to have deciphered indus script using phoenician letters, try to read about it as well. so some scholars infact argue indus origin of semitic scripts.

regards