Tense and aspect in the Vetālapañcaviṅśati, a work of late classical Sanskrit

Rose, Sarah (Sarah R.) (1997) Tense and aspect in the Vetālapañcaviṅśati, a work of late classical Sanskrit. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The loss of many of the finite verbal forms of Sanskrit between the Vedic period (1200- 700 B.C.) and the Classical period (400-1700 A.D.) has been well documented (Burrow 1955; Taraporewala 1967; Pap 1990; Masica 1991). By the Classical period, the three finite past tenses, the aorist, perfect and imperfect, had "fallen together" and were being used interchangeably to relate past events (Taraporewala 1967:76; Misra 1968:62; Whitney 1889/1967:201). -- This thesis investigated verbal forms of a text of late Classical Sanskrit, the Vetālapañcaviṅśati, ‘Twenty Five Tales of a Demon', with a view to discovering some of the directions taken in the post-Vedic process of "rebuilding" the verbal system. -- Jambhaladatta's version of the Vetālapañcaviṅśati was found to contain two systems used to indicate past events: the 'archaic' (including the aorist, imperfect and perfect) and the 'innovative' (including the P-oriented participle -ta and the A-oriented participle -tavant). The three 'old' tenses showed no significant semantic differences, consistent with their acknowledged "collapse", although the perfect did show a discourse function of indicating "finality". The P-oriented -ta participle was used three times as often as the A-oriented -tavant participle, indicating that in the 'new’ system, the syntactic shift from A- to P-orientation (as in Hock 1986) was well underway. -- The Historical Present, consistent with its function in all periods of the language, was heavily used for the "lively" narration of past events, both as a main verb, and as the auxiliary component of analytic forms. -- The 'new’ system also showed numerous analytic aspectual forms. To indicate imperfective aspect, constructions involving the present participle plus auxiliaries ✓sthā 'to stand’, ✓ās 'to stay,sit', and vidyate<✓vid ‘to find' were used extensively. The auxiliary vidyate was noted to be a recategorized middle voice verb, with features of both A- and P- orientation. Retrospective aspect was regularly indicated by constructions involving the PPP combined with the auxiliary ✓as 'to be; this construction was especially common in direct speech. -- The increase in analytic forms, clearly marked for imperfective aspect, was considered to be a strategy to redress an imbalance in the 'old' system of preterite tenses where imperfective aspect was under represented.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1420
Item ID: 1420
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 110-119
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Linguistics
Date: 1997
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Vetālapañcaviṅśati; Sanskrit language--Aspect; Sanskrit language--Tense

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