The Newsletter 49 Autumn 2008

Ancient corpus under digital scrutiny: deciphering lexical structure

Alexandre Sotov

In literature studies interest in the Rgveda (RV) is typically based on the observation of the regular occurrence in hymns of certain textual features, treated as evidence of homogeneity of their genre. It is argued that verbal formulas are “the vehicles of themes and… in the totality of these we find the doctrine, ideology, and culture of the Indo-Europeans” (Watkins 1995), including the Indo-Aryans. Results of a recent computer-aided study, however, suggest that the hymns show a less conformity in terms of their lexical structure than previously believed.