A corpus based study of ‘Dharma’ in the translated English version of the Sanskrit text Yajnavalkyasmriti

Navreet Kaur Rana, O. P. Jindal Global University in Haryana, India;      Abstract: This paper reports a corpus linguistic study of the English translation of the Sanskrit text Yajnavalkya smriti. The corpus is adapted from an edited version of the scripture translated into English by Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vidyarnava with commentary and notes (1918) and (2010). Drawing on Biber (2014) this paper attempts to look into the pattern of language use particularly with reference to the word Dharma in the translated text. This text has been used for reference in legal discourses and courts in modern day India. The aim of this research is to evaluate the translation of the term Dharma from a classical language to a modern language in order to establish the meaning and connotations of the word Dharma.

The methodological tools include AntConc, the corpus analyser tool. The Part-of-Speech annotation of the text has revealed that Dharma has been used in the translated text as a Noun or as a Noun Phrase (NN and NP) 23 times. (Fig 1 and Fig 2) The realm of discourse of the word Dharma with the help of collocates and other analytical findings like colligation and semantic prosody has revealed that the term Dharma is used in different contexts in the ancient text. It is used in the context of religion and it is also used in place of law. Dharma can be a process, it can refer to a code of conduct, or an approach towards existence and survival. These findings of this corpus based research provide evidence for the interpretation and understanding of Dharma in the ancient text of Yajnavalkyasmriti and gives credibility to the use of the term in legal discourses.

The paper also discusses the problems of converting an ancient text saved electronically in translated version within the purview of corpus linguistics for research.


Keywords: Yajnavalkyasmriti; corpus; collocates; semantic prosody; dharma



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