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Tibetan Grammar: Si tu Paṇchen and the Tibetan adoption of linguistic knowledge from India

Graf, Alexander

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Abstract

The present dissertation is a critical study of key grammatical concepts in the linguistic tradition of eighteenth century Tibet. It addresses the question, how Tibetan grammarians adopted and, in the process, modified Sanskritic grammatical knowledge for the analysis of the written Tibetan language.

The investigation is centered on the topic of case grammar and focuses on the work of Si tu Paṇchen Chos kyi ’byung gnas (1700-1774), a relatively late author who claims the status of a Sanskrit expert and one of the most important grammarians in the tradition.

Important findings of the thesis suggest that multiple, sometimes competing factors (historical, linguistic, conceptual, methodological) interacted in the Tibetan adoption of the Sanskritic case model. This adoption was neither direct nor uncritical, but mediated by Tibetan grammarians through the theoretical and methodological foundation of Tibetan case grammar, in particular the case functions' validity across languages.

The study reveals significant transformations of originally Sanskritic linguistic knowledge, including the understanding of the notion of case (rnam dbye, vibhakti) as such, as well as the conception of cases. The study also highlights the heterogeneity of the Tibetan grammatical tradition and the constant re-negotiation of adopted terminology and theories throughout the centuries.

The main purpose of the current work is to raise awareness that this area of Tibetan intellectual history deserves closer attention with regard to both our understanding of Tibetan grammatical models in particular and Tibetan scholastic knowledge production in general. From a broader perspective, this dissertation serves as a case study of the processes and mechanisms that are involved in the travel of concepts – in this particular case grammatical concepts – across cultural-linguistic boundaries.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Kellner, Prof. Dr. Birgit
Date of thesis defense: 15 October 2018
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2019 14:04
Date: 2019
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Dekanat der Philosophischen Fakultät
Service facilities > Exzellenzcluster Asia and Europe in a Global Context
Subjects: 400 Linguistics
490 Other languages
890 Literatures of other languages
990 General history of other areas
Controlled Keywords: Si-tu Paṇ-chen Chos-kyi-'byuṅ-gnas
Uncontrolled Keywords: Si tu'i 'grel chen, Tibetan grammar, Tibetan scholasticism, Tibetan history, Tibetan intellectual history, Tibetan scholastic knowledge production
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