UNITED KINGDOM, December 15, 2022 (BBC): A Sanskrit grammatical problem which has perplexed scholars since the 5th Century bce has been solved by a University of Cambridge PhD student. Rishi Rajpopat, 27, decoded a rule taught by Panini, a master of the ancient Sanskrit language who lived around 2,500 years ago. Sanskrit, although not widely spoken, is the sacred language of Hinduism and has been used in India’s science, philosophy, poetry and other secular literature over the centuries. Rajpopat said he had “a eureka moment in Cambridge” after spending nine months “getting nowhere.” “I closed the books for a month and just enjoyed the summer – swimming, cycling, cooking, praying and meditating,” he said. “Then, begrudgingly I went back to work, and, within minutes, as I turned the pages, these patterns started emerging, and it all started to make sense.” The student used a page from an 18th Century copy of a Panini Sanskrit text to help prove his theory Panini’s grammar, known as the Astadhyayi, relied on a system that functioned like an algorithm to turn the base and suffix of a word into grammatically correct words and sentences. However, two or more of Panini’s rules often apply simultaneously, resulting in conflicts. Panini taught a “metarule”, which is traditionally interpreted by scholars as meaning “in the event of a conflict between two rules of equal strength, the rule that comes later in the grammar’s serial order wins”. However, this often led to grammatically incorrect results. Rajpopat rejected the traditional interpretation of the metarule. Instead, he argued that Panini meant that between rules applicable to the left and right sides of a word respectively, Panini wanted us to choose the rule applicable to the right side. Employing this interpretation, he found that Panini’s “language machine” produced grammatically correct words with almost no exceptions.
See also: https://indianexpress.com/article/puzzles-and-games/info/rishi-rajpopat-cambridge-panini-ashtadhyayi-sanskrit-grammar-metarule-problem-nlp-artificial-intelligence-linguistics-ancient-india-832681/