On the Use of Genitive Absolute in Sanskrit

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Abstract

Ferdinand de Saussure is most famous for his Course in General Linguistics, reconstructed after his death by his students from notes of lectures he had given at the University of Geneva. He only published two books before his death, the Memoir on the Primitive Vowel System in Indo-European Languages, and the book that we publish here for the first time in English translation, On the Use of the Genitive Absolute in Sanskrit. Originally a doctoral thesis in French written while he was a student at the University of Leipzig, On the Use of the Genitive Absolute in Sanskrit was first published in French in 1881. Here, Saussure explores a neglected area in Sanskrit syntax. Already in this work we find an empirical case of the seminal principle of structural linguistics based on use, a principle for which, after his death, he was to become so famous. Editor and translator Ananta Sukla has at last rescued this book from neglect. Apart from translating the text in collaboration with late Patrick Thomas, Sukla provides an extensive introduction that clarifies several points illuminating foundation of modern linguistics in ancient Sanskrit grammars, particularly in principles of use.