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Foreign Terms In Sanskrit Pertaining To Writing

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Chapter Summary

Writing has an old history in India. The first writing appears suddenly and fully fledged with the mature Harappan phase in the middle of the third millenium bc. The earliest testimony of their Aramaic script in South Asia dates from the time after the collapse of the Achaemenid empire, i.e., from the time of Alexander. The first loanword we encounter in South-Asia is lipi, "script". This term is a clear Iranian loanword probably imported by Achaemenid clerks. Books were known in South Asia from Hellenistic times onwards, usually called byblos or similar by the Greek. During Hellenistic times the terms for the utensils pen and ink were added, kalama and melā. Thus, the Indian way of writing in their most complex language, Sanskrit, arose from a combination of sources, one foreign and popular and one indigenous and elitist.

Keywords: Achaemenid empire; Aramaic script; Harappan; India; Sanskrit; South Asia



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