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Dispensing with ellipsis devices in the analysis of Sanskrit bahuvr?hi

Resurfacing, testing and assessing P??ini’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 bahuvr?his 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, P??ini does not adopt any of them to explain bahuvr?his. This study attempts to resurface the modernly underrated import of P??ini’s approach. We shall capitalise on the most original feature of P??ini’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 bahuvr?hi.



2022-01-26 — Updated on 2023-03-27