Why is Sanskrit considered suitable for computer usage? Why are many Sanskrit books ambiguous?

by February 7, 2012

Why is Sanskrit considered suitable for computer usage when many Sanskrit books are ambiguous? A language that allows for ambiguity is considered deficient. So is this a deficiency of Sanskrit?

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Here is Madan Mohan Prabhu, a Sanskrit scholar, email about the suitability of Sanskrit for computers:


Dear Chaitanya Charan Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

From what I’ve heard from Gopiparanadhana Prabhu and other Sanskrit teachers, some of the features of Sanskrit that allegedly made the language so attractive for AI language developers may be:

(1) its highly algorithmic grammar, both in terms of morphology and syntax, so much that, by mechanically applying the sutras of Panini or Jiva Goswami to nounal and verbal roots one can form perfectly correct words and sentences without even knowing what they mean;

(2) its orderly and systematic yet extremely versatile word formation, which expands a fairly limited number of nounal and verbal roots, with the help of a few prefixes, suffixes, and pronouns, into a practically unlimited range of words and their meanings; and

(3) its inflection-based syntax, which makes the overall meaning of a sentence almost independent on the position of its constituent words (unlike English, Hindi, Russian, and many other languages). For instance, the sentence “people see you” changes it meaning entirely if the words are moved around like  “you see people “, “see you people”, “you people see”, while its Sanskit equivalent “janAh pashyanti tvAm” will retain its meaning with any respective placement of the words in it: “janAs tvAm pashyanti”, “pashyanti tvAm janAh”, “pashyanti janAs tvAm” etc. This may account for the purported unambiguity of the Sanskrit language.

your servant,

Madana-mohan das



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