Sanskrit is one of the oldest documented languages on the planet, and it has long served as one of the primary channels for the transmission of knowledge and ideas in not only India but also a large part of Asia. Yet, the interesting part is that even after almost three thousand years of its inception, the rules of the language and process of Sanskrit language learning remain nearly intact, unlike any other language in the world. On top of it, there exist almost no other language which is as systematic in the syntactic and semantic way, which has made computer scientists around the world curious about the application of information technology in Sanskrit. Very few people know that Sanskrit basics have contributed to a lot of past as well as ongoing research in the area and in this article, you will get to learn about how it has been and can be used in the technology world.
The word Sanskrit itself means "pure or perfect”. It is one of the most accurate and well-balanced languages ever devised. The lexicon, phonology, grammar, and syntax of the language are elegant and scientific. Sanskrit for beginners may appear difficult, but once you dig deeper and master the language properly, it's one of the few languages in the world where a written sentence causes no confusion.
For a computer to use a natural language, however, the words, grammatical rules, and sentences - everything must be unambiguous, every statement should be easy to break down into an array of semantic data that would be easy to compile, and the response sentences created should be formed near perfectly in the same language as that of the input with little to no deviation. Sanskrit does all of that, making Sanskrit language learning very easy for even the computer.
In Sanskrit, every device is defined by a word and these words have been constant through the ages, no new word has been added. Every letter in Sanskrit has a meaning, and each word represents an object's attribute rather than the object itself. Because Sanskrit words are made up of core elements called Dhatus, each of which has a meaning, they provide Data, Information, and Message. In Sanskrit, there are roughly 2200 dhatus from which words are formed. An endless number of words can be created simply by adding prefixes and suffixes to these Dhatus. On top of that, each Sanskrit word also contains information like Gender, Quantity, and tense used. Therefore, the word, as well as the thing it referred to, may be easily understood by any Sanskrit speaker.
In Sanskrit basics, the base can be used to identify an object. An object can have a variety of connections and interactions with other objects in the environment. In connection to other things, ‘Rama' could be an agent of some activity or the recipient, for example. Even the exchanges have been neatly and succinctly documented.
Sanskrit is divided into 48 phonemes (13 vowels and 35 consonants), each of which is represented by a separate symbol in the alphabet. The vowels are all organized based on the shape the mouth makes while pronouncing them, and are also divided into short and long. In the same way, the consonants have been organized in a rational and systematic pattern.
Sanskrit grammar was established by Panini in 500 BCE in his book “Ashtadhyayi” and the same grammar is followed till today. He made it in such a way that words and their surroundings guide the language. Each word is aware of its roots and always relates back to the root from which it was derived, resulting in a seamless connection between the word and its meaning. As a result, when each word is correctly employed in a sentence, it delivers an expression without any confusion.
Sanskrit grammar is extremely methodical and precise in its application. Sanskrit verbs can be crosslinked in one of three ways: first, second, or third person. There are three numerical forms for verbs: singular, dual, and plural. There are ten tenses and three voices for verbs: active, middle, and passive. There are eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, and locative; three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter; and three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.
Morphemes are simple words as well as inflectional sounds like plural ends, prefixes, and suffixes that carry meaning. In a natural language processing system, written words must be evaluated for their morphemic components. In Panini's Ashtadyayi, the mechanism for producing words is outlined step-by-step like a mathematical equation, making programming to generate words the simplest.
The syntax is concerned with how meaningful constituents are assembled to make an utterance or phrase. Panini's work spawned a linguistic school that evaluated sentences in a more generative way. The sentence's structure was developed from a number of elementary syntactic categories, such as verbal action, agents, and objects.
Panini established a comprehensive theory in Sanskrit basics, named Karaka Theory, founded on the notion of action as described by the verb by establishing a framework for action in terms of its relationships with agents and situations. Panini developed six fundamental semantic ideas that represent a variety of elements of action as seen through the eyes of its players. To include a large number of cases, the intent of the subject is taken into consideration, thus removing any possibility of ambiguity there as well.
A computer has to check for the context of a sentence to understand its meaning, which can contain a lot of confusion in most natural languages. However, in Sanskrit, almost all kinds of meaning analysis based on the relationship between 2 words - sameness, opposites, connection, association, context, etc. are dealt with in detail, so that there is no such mix-up.
The richness of Sanskrit basics originates from the fact that everything in it is predetermined and derivable if you simply know the formula that is taught in a course of even Sanskrit for beginners. Its fixed structure and this derivability from Sanskrit basics make it an extremely potent language for informatics.
By definition, artificial language is all about computers reading and comprehending data entries and then interacting with humans on their own. In the 21st century, we use artificial intelligence exhaustively. Alexa, Cortana, Siri are only a few examples of the same.
There are two ways for the computer to interpret human inputs - translating natural languages to machine languages like C, C#, etc. and then reading them, or directly decoding the natural languages spoken and written by human beings. It is the first method that is predominantly used today as the majority of natural languages have a long list of ambiguities that make it extremely confusing for the machines to understand them. Yet scientists have been researching natural language processing aka NLP for a long time in order to resolve this difficulty, for the sheer convenience of the matter.
What is NLP?
NLP or Natural Language Processing is the means of interpreting natural languages like speech and text by using software in an automated manner. To elaborate, NLP aims to create machines that interpret text or voice input in the same manner that people do, and respond with text or speech of their own which are intelligible to humans. It enables computer programs to translate text from one language to another, respond to spoken instructions, and quickly summarize vast amounts of material, even in real-time.
How can Sanskrit be used in NLP?
Years of research have shown that because of the highly organised structure and bare minimal ambiguity from a semantic and syntactic point of view, Sanskrit is one of the best languages for using in natural language processing.
In order to solve the problems presented by natural languages, scientists took the constructive approach which means to create a whole different system using an appropriate language, and discovered that Sanskrit is one of the perfect choices for the same. Moreover, currently, the most vastly used language used in NLP is English, which is one of the most complex languages in the world and even a native speaker takes 8-10 years to achieve proficiency in it, whereas, an expert level Sanskrit language learning takes at max 2-4 years owing to its strict form.
A language is techno-friendly if it allows the user to communicate with others with the help of modern electronic gadgets such as computers, mobile phones, iPads, iPods, tablets etc. Interestingly, the process of communication, from a speaker's expression of thoughts through a language string to a listener's comprehension of a speech, has been widely studied in the traditional Sanskrit grammar books like Shabdabodha and Panini’s Ashtadhyayi. They discuss verbal recognition, various levels of meanings of speech and writings, as well as categorising the meanings into recognizing the words. They also talk about the derivation of new words, analysis of sentences, and the integrity of sentences and paragraphs.
These Sanskrit texts will be very useful in developing not only analysing tools for Sanskrit texts but also Sanskrit-based machine translation systems. In fact, work has already started on creating Sanskrit analyzers that recognize Sanskrit words, search various Sanskrit dictionaries to understand word meanings, split a Sandhied word (compound word) of Sanskrit, join two words by following Sandhi rules, search a given word in various contexts, and so on. Some of these softwares are even able to use Sanskrit basics to prepare spreadsheets, conduct PowerPoint presentations, surf web pages, create designs using various Sanskrit fonts, and chat. However, the systems are far from being complete and perfect, there are many limitations they still have to overcome.
Various government agencies in India, such as the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Poona, TDIL under the Department of Information Technology, ILDC, JNU, IIT Kharagpur, and NGOs such as the CIRD and the Academy of Sanskrit Research in Melkote, are developing computer applications for Sanskrit as well as developing programs to process Sanskrit in computers.
In the 21st century, as the integration of information technology in Sanskrit is enhancing at a rapid pace as seen above, it has become much easier to learn Sanskrit as well. Nowadays there is an answer to every question framed as how to learn Sanskrit easily. Sanskrit language learning is not only limited to piles of books anymore, but it also has arrived as online courses along with learning Sanskrit apps. There are a plethora of these apps available on the Google Playstore these days, many of which have adapted inventive ways like gamification by combining machine learning and artificial intelligence, to make Sanskrit easy for learners.
It is only the misinformation and misdirected apprehension because of which Sanskrit isn’t vastly learnt, not because it is difficult to learn. Given the huge scope of Sanskrit and the newly found support from the Indian government, experts predict Sanskrit is going to take many pivotal steps in the technology world very soon and has a very bright future ahead. If you are unfamiliar with this language and are wondering how to learn Sanskrit easily, not only can you apply for many certification courses along with degree programs offered by prominent universities around the world but can also opt for many learn Sanskrit apps which have given Sanskrit language learning a new meaning with their groundbreaking techniques that will leave you excited to learn even more. With more and more academic involvement and fresh interest in the language, we are hopeful of the game-changing entanglement of information technology in Sanskrit in the foreseeable future.
आलस्यं हि मनुष्याणां शरीरस्थो महान् रिपुः। नास्त्युद्यमसमो बन्धुः कृत्वा यं नावसीदति।। आलस्यं हि मनुष्याणां शरीरस्थो महान् रिपुः। नास्त्युद्यमसमो बन्धुः कृत्वा यं नावसीदति।।