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Friday, November 27, 2020

On the Navya-Nyaya Theory of Language

The Navya-Nyaya school holds that spoken language is the primary language since it’s logically prior to written language. The language of gestures precedes spoken language—it’s something that the humans have learned from the animals which use bodily signs to communicate with each other without creating any sound. Written language is of critical importance because it enables people to create long sentences, express complicated ideas, and gain better understanding of the meaning of the spoken words, but, like the language of gestures in case of human beings, it exists parasitically on spoken language. The Navya-Nyaya philosophers accept the old Nyaya belief that Sanskrit is a divine language bequeathed to humanity by the Brahman who is the prime mover of the universe—the Brahman is the creator of the objects in the universe and he has delineated the relationship between meaning and the objects. The spoken words are merely sounds; they become language when they are endowed with meaning—this task, according to the theorists of the Navya-Nyaya school, was accomplished by the will of the Brahman. The references to the Brahman as the creator of world’s languages (mainly Sanskrit) lead to the conclusion that the languages, according to the Nyaya philosophers, are a product of nature and not convention.

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