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Lecture | Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (CIEL) Seminars

Sociolinguistic Features in Vedic Sanskrit: Women’s Speech in Seduction and Curse Charms of the Atharvaveda

Friday 2 June 2023
Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (CIEL) Seminars
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


The hymns of the Atharvaveda, of a highly miscellaneous nature, are supposed to be markedly more “popular” than those of the R̥gveda, which mainly concern the high public sacrificial rites. However, most sociolinguistic inquiry in Vedic Sanskrit has focused on the latter. After a survey of previous research on features of women’s speech (or women’s speech as a window to the colloquial) in the R̥gvedic hymns, we will look at what the Atharvaveda, and in particular its seduction and curse charms, might bring to this line of inquiry, whether it be in terms of confirming or contradicting patterns. We will then explore the potential identification of new sociolinguistic markers from the Atharvaveda. It will also be shown how the instructions of the ancient Atharvan ritual manual, the Kauśikasūtra, can complicate the analysis of the social setting and identification of the speakers of the hymns.

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