Dispensing with ellipsis devices in the analysis of Sanskrit bahuvrihi

Resurfacing, testing and assessing Panini’s model


  • Tiziana Pontillo Università degli Studi di Cagliari
  • Maria Piera Candotti Università degli Studi di Pisa


In modern linguistics it is quite common to analyse bahuvrihis as derived from an endocentric compound to which a phonetically null suffix applies (Whitney 1889:501-502; Kiparsky 1982a:139; Gillon 2008:2-3). Despite his extensive use of zero devices, Panini does not adopt any of them to explain bahuvrihis. This study attempts to resurface the modernly underrated import of Panini’s approach. We shall capitalise on the most original feature of Panini’s handling of compound analysis, namely the fact that he does not focus on the head, but rather on the so-called upasarjana constituent, characterised in the source-phrase by a frozen case-ending expressing the syntactic relation with another constituent of the compound. A frozen syntactic relation is furthermore established between one of the constituents and the denotatum of the whole compound, and is reflected in the case-ending of the pronoun used (in the traditional analysis) to signify this relation. It is exclusively the syntactic meaning conveyed by this case-ending that is assumed to explain the final meaning of the bahuvrihi.



2022-01-26 — Updated on 2023-03-27