Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  Page 18  

18                          ALBERUNPS INDIA.

occurs, and its relation both to the following and the
preceding parts of the sentence. The Hindus, like
other people, boast of this enormous range of their lan¬
guage, whilst in reality it is a defect.

Further, the language is divided into a neglected
vernacular one, only in use among the common people,
and a classical one, only in use among the upper and
educated classes, which is much cultivated, and subject
to the rules of grammatical inflection and etymology,
and to all the niceties of grammar and rhetoric.

Besides, some of the sounds (consonants) of which
the language is composed are neither identical with the
sounds of Arabic and Persian, nor resemble them in
any way. Our tongue and uvula could scarcely manage
to correctly pronounce them, nor our ears in hearing to
distinguish them from similar sounds, nor could we
transliterate them with our characters. It is very
difficult, therefore, to express an Indian word in our
writing, for in order to fix the pronunciation we must
change our orthographical points and signs, and must
pronounce the case-endings either according to the
common Arabic rules or according to special rules
adapted for the purpose.

Add to this that the Indian scribes are careless, and
do not take pains to produce correct and well-collated
copies. In consequence, the highest results of the
author's mental development are lost by their negli¬
gence, and his book becomes already in the first or
second copy so full of faults, that the text appears as
something entirely new, which neither a scholar nor
one familiar with the subject, whether Hindu or Muslim,
could any longer understand. It will sufficiently illus¬
trate the matter if we tell the reader that we have
sometimes written down a word from the mouth of
Hindus, taking the greatest pains to fix its pronuncia¬
tion, and that afterwards when we repeated it to them,
they had great difficulty in recognising it.     ,
  Page 18