Posted: 18 September 2011 at 4:40pm | IP Logged
Interesting read about the Sanskrit language
In ancient India the intention to discover truth was so consuming, that in the process, they discovered perhaps the most perfect tool for fulfilling such a search that the world has ever known — the Sanskrit language.
Of all the discoveries that have occurred and developed in the course of human history, language is the most significant and probably the most taken for granted. Without language, civilization could obviously not exist. On the other hand, to the degree that language becomes sophisticated and accurate in describing the subtlety and complexity of human life, we gain power and effectiveness in meeting its challenges. The access to modern technology which has been designed to give ease, efficiency and enjoyment in meeting our daily needs did not exist at the beginning of the century. It was made possible by accelerated advancement in the field of mathematics, a "language" which has helped us to discover the interrelationship of energy and matter with a high degree of precision. The resulting technology is evidence of the tremendous power that is unleashed simply by being able to make the finer and finer distinction that a language like mathematics affords.
At the same time humankind has fallen far behind the advancements in technology. The precarious state of political and ecological imbalance that we are now experiencing is an obvious sign of the power of technology far exceeding the power of human beings to be in control of it. It could easily be argued that we have fallen far behind the advancements in technology, simply because the languages we use for daily communication do not help us to make the distinctions required to be in balance with the technology that has taken over our lives.
Relevant to this, there has recently been an astounding discovery made at the NASA research center. The following quote is from an article which appeared in AI Magazine (Artificial Intelligence) in Spring of 1985 written NASA researcher, Rick Briggs:
In the past twenty years, much time, effort, and money has been expended on designing an unambiguous representation of natural languages to make them accessible to computer processing. These efforts have centered around creating schemata designed to parallel logical relations with relations expressed by the syntax and semantics of natural languages, which are clearly cumbersome and ambiguous in their function as vehicles for the transmission of logical data. Understandably, there is a widespread belief that natural languages are unsuitable for the transmission of many ideas that artificial languages can render with great precision and mathematical rigor.
But this dichotomy, which has served as a premise underlying much work in the areas of linguistics and artificial intelligence, is a false one. There is at least one language, Sanskrit, which for the duration of almost 1000 years was a living spoken language with a considerable literature of its own. Besides works of literary value, there was a long philosophical and grammatical tradition that has continued to exist with undiminished vigor until the present century. Among the accomplishments of the grammarians can be reckoned a method for paraphrasing Sanskrit in a manner that is identical not only in essence but in form with current work in Artificial Intelligence. This article demonstrates that a natural language can serve as an artificial language also, and that much work in AI has been reinventing a wheel millennia old.