However, Sanskrit, especially in the later stages of the language, significantly expands on this both in terms of the number of elements making up a single compound and the volume of compound-usage in the literature, a development which is unique within Indo-European to Sanskrit and closely related languages.
In Sanskrit, as in Proto-Indo-European, a compound is formed by the following process:
- Take the stem-form of the first element, i.e., remove its inflexion;[b]
- Combine the two elements with a single accented syllable.
The process of 'resolving' the compound, i.e., expounding the meaning using the component words declined as in sentence form is termed vigraha·vākya.
An endocentric compound, usually called determinative, is where the compound is essentially the sum of its parts, the meaning being an extension of one of the parts:
- blackbird → a type of black bird[c]
- White House → the official residence of the US president[d]
- siṃha·purás → lion-city (Singapore)
An exocentric compound refers to something outside the components:
- redhead → someone with red hair[e]
- pickpocket → someone who picks someone else's pockets[f]
- 'bahu·vrīhi' → lit. 'much-rice', i.e., possessing much rice: an indication of wealth
Indeed, this term 'bahuvrihi' is used both in Sanskrit and standard Indo-European linguistics to denote this type of compound.
Sanskrit expands on these to provide several further distinctions as below:
- Tatpuruṣa proper
- Nan tatpuruṣa
- Prādi and gati
The first two of these, tatpuruṣa and bahuvrīhi, are Indo-European inheritances, the latter two are Indic innovations. Alongside the term bahuvrīhi, tatpuruṣa has also been adopted in mainstream Indo-European linguistics as the technical term denoting this type of compounding.
The following sections give an outline of the main types of compounds with examples. The examples demonstrate the composition of the compound's elements, and the meanings in English generally correspond to them, in most cases being a similar compound as well. Where this is not the case or the meaning is not clear, a further resolution is provided.
Based on the grammatical nature of the attributive member, six varieties of tatpuruṣa compounds are identified as seen in the classification above. A further distinction is also made based on whether the attributive is in the nominative or an oblique[h] case.[i]
|deva·dattá-||god-given: given by the gods||Instrumental|
|viṣṇu·bali||Viṣṇu-offering: offering to Viṣṇu||Dative|
|svarga·patitá-||heaven-fallen: fallen from heaven||Ablative|
|vyāghra·buddhi||tiger-thought: the thought of it being a tiger||Genitive|
|yajur·veda-||sacrifice-knowledge: the knowledge of sacrifice||Genitive|
|gṛha·jata-||house-born: born in the house||Locative|
In a karmadhāraya-tatpuruṣa compound, the first element qualifies the second one adjectively when the latter is a noun. When the second member is an adjective, the qualification is adverbial. Other parts of speech besides adjectives and adverbs may be used to obtain the adjective or adverbial qualification.
|sarva·guṇa||all good quality|
|dvi·rājá-||(the battle of) two kings|
|tri·bhuvana-||three-world: the universe|
|tri·divá||the triple heaven|
|daś'âṅgulá-||ten fingers' breadth|
|ṣaḍ·ahá-||six day's time|
|sahasr'âhṇyá-||thousand days' journey|
dvigu compounds of bahuvrīhi type are noted below.
|án·aśva||non-horse: not a horse|
|á·pati||not a master|
|su·kṛ́t||well-doing, a good deed|
|manu·já||Manu-born, born of Manu, man|
|jala·dá||water-giving: a cloud|
|sarva·jñá||all-knowing: an omniscient person|
|First Element → Word||Meaning, resolution||Case|
|ojas → ojasā·kṛtá-||done with might ||Instrumental|
|ātman → ātmane·pada-||'word for self': the reflexive voice||Dative|
|dyaus → divas·pati||'lord of the sky': a name of Indra ||Genitive|
|yudh → yudhi·ṣṭhira-||firm in battle ||Locative|
The result of itaretara-dvandva [l] is an enumerative word, the meaning of which refers to all its constituent members. The resultant compound word is in the dual or plural number and takes the gender of the final member in the compound construction. Examples:
|mitrā́·váruṇau||Mitra and Varuṇa|
|dyāvā·pṛthivī||heaven and earth|
|vrīhi·yavaú||rice and barley|
|candr'ādityau||moon and sun|
|devā'surā́s||the gods and the demons|
|hasty·aśvās||elephants and horses|
|roga·śoka·parītāpa·bandhana·vyasanāni||disease, pain, grief, bondage and adversity|
Words may be organised in a compound to form a metonym, and sometimes the words may comprise all the constituent parts of the whole. The resultant bears a collective sense and is always singular and neutral.
|Word||Literal ⇒ Meaning|
|pāṇi·pādam||hands and feet ⇒ limbs, appendages|
|āhāra·nidrā·bhayam||food, sleep and fear ⇒ vicissitudes, features of life|
|pitarau||mātā ca pitā ca||mother and father ⇒ parents [n]|
|mṛgās||mṛgyaś ca mṛgāś ca||does and bucks ⇒ deer|
|putrās||putrāś ca duhitaraś ca||sons and daughters ⇒ children|
While not strictly copulative, this is a compound consisting of the same word repeated with the first occurrence accented.
Āmreḍita compounds are used to express repetitiveness; for example, from dív- (day) we obtain divé-dive ('day after day', daily) and from devá- (god) we obtain deváṃ-devam or devó-devas ('deity after deity').
A bahuvrīhi compound can often be translated by "possessing..." or "-ed"; for example, "possessing much rice" or "much-riced". In English, examples of bahuvrīhi would be "lowlife" and "blockhead" (they respectively denote 'one whose life is low' and 'one whose head resembles a block'), or the English surname Longbottom ('one who lives in a long "botham" [valley]').
The second element could essentially have been a noun, which within such a compound, can take on adjective declensions with the compound used adjectivally. Endocentric compounds can thus be transformed into possessives, normally accompanied, and explicitly recognized in the older language, by a change in accentuation:
- indra·śatrú-, 'Indra's killer' ⇒ índra·śatru-, 'having Indra as killer'[p]
- bṛhad·ratha-, 'a great chariot' ⇒ bṛhád·ratha-, 'having great chariots'
- sūrya·tejás-, 'sun's brightness' ⇒ sū́rya·tejas-, 'possessing the brightness of the sun'
A few typical examples of such compounds:
|jīvitá·vatsa-||alive-childed: having living children[q]|
|pátra·hasta-||vessel-handed: holding a vessel in the hand|
When the first element of a bahuvrīhi is a numeral, the compound is called dvigu.[r] An English example would be a halfwit ('one who has half of their mind').
A few typical examples of such compounds:
|aṣṭá·putra-||eight-sonned: having eight sons|
|sahásra·nāman||thousandname: having a thousand names|
|adhy·ātmam||concerning the self|
|anu·ratham||behind the chariots|
|upa·rājam||near the king|
|praty·agni||towards the fire|
|yathā·śakti||per-strength: according to one's ability|
|sa·cakram||simultaneously with the wheel|
|antar·jalam||inter-water: within the water|
- Sanskrit nominals
- Sanskrit verbs
- Sanskrit grammar
- Vedic Sanskrit grammar
- Proto-Indo-European verbs
- "In Vedic, noun compounds are hardly more frequent than in Homeric Greek, but their frequency increases throughout the history of the language.. in the later language the occurrence in a single short sentence of several compounds of four or five members is perfectly normal, and in certain styles compounds of twenty or more members are not thought excessive" - Coulson 
- This process suggests the possibility of an early stage of Proto-Indo-European where words could appear in a sentence without case terminations.
- a particular species, not just any bird that is black
- the specific presidential residence, not just any house that is white
- that is, not a head
- that is, not a pocket
- accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, or locative
- The word tatpuruṣa (a 'that-man', in the sense of 'that person's man', i.e., 'someone's agent') is itself a tatpuruṣa compound.
- The word dvi·gu itself is an example of dvigu: lit. 'two-cow', used in the sense of 'worth two cows'.
- called a bound form
- enumerative dvandva
- compare Spanish padres ⇒ 'parents'
- 'much-riced', i.e., a rich person
- To illustrate the importance of correct accentuation, the grammarian Patañjali (living around 150 BCE) is said to have cited the story of Vṛtra, who on account of the wrong accent used on this compound ends up instead of being Indra's killer, himself killed by Indra!
- Indeed in later Sanskrit, the tendency to use compounds instead of verb-based clauses is so strong, in a classical drama, to express gratitude for having children who are alive, one would say the equivalent of 'thank heaven, I'm alive-childed': diṣṭyā, jīvita·vats'âsmi 
- An example will be the word dvigu itself, which as a bahuvrīhi means '[a] two-cow [person]'; i.e., one who has two cows (dvau gāvau).
- Coulson, p. xxii.
- Coulson, p. xxi.
- Burrow, p. 209.
- Whitney, §1246.
- Kale, §180
- Kale, §184.
- Adams, p. 35.
- Meyer, p. 179.
- Fortson, §6.82.
- Kale, §201.
- Coulson, pp. 87.
- Kale, §200.
- Kale, §203.
- Whitney, §1279.
- Tubb & Boose, §1.54.
- Tubb & Boose, §1.56.
- Whitney, §1312.
- Whitney, §1288.
- Tubb & Boose, §1.58.
- Tubb & Boose, §1.59.
- Whitney, §1286.
- Kale, §208, 215
- Kale, §206.
- Kale, §215.
- Whitney, §361.
- Kale, §217.
- Kale, §187.
- Burrow, p. 217.
- Whitney, §1253.
- Kale, §188-189.
- Tubb & Boose, §173-174.
- Whitney, §1260.
- Whitney, §1293.
- Kale, §246.
- Deshpande, p. 24.
- Burrow, p. 215.
- Coulson, p. 122.
- Whitney, §1300.
- Whitney, §1313.
- Tubb & Boose, §1.48.
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