I here with attach a link which shows that Panini is the father of Linguistics. Even professors of English from the English And Foreign languages, Hyderabad say that he is the father of linguistics and even English grammar is codified based on his treatise Astadhyani. They say that it is the first grammar book in the world.


My question is:

Is Panini really the father of Linguistics and Astadhyani is the first grammar book in the world?

  • What reason do you have to doubt it?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 13:39
  • @ curiousdanni. I thought it is also like sanskrtit is the mother of all languages. It is not proper to downvote it. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 13:42
  • Then you have to agree that sanskrit is the father of languages Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 13:49
  • 3
    No, they are two entirely separate assertions. Panini's methods weren't replicated until the 19th century in the west, and there's evidence that when they were replicated it's because western linguists finally got to read Panini's texts. This has nothing to do with Sanskrit being the mother of all languages. Also, of course, chances are Panini had drawn from earlier linguists we don't entirely get to know about, so he may be the father of linguistics in some sense only as far as we are concerned.
    – LjL
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:42
  • I think western scholars hailed him Father of Linguistics. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 14:54

3 Answers 3


It depends what you mean by "father of linguistics".

Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī is the oldest surviving work that could be called a complete linguistic grammar. But Pāṇini wasn't writing in a vacuum: his work references earlier works that haven't survived, by other authors. It's mostly a historical accident that his grammar survived when none of his predecessors' did.

However, Ferdinand de Saussure is often called one of the fathers of linguistics (i.e. one of the people who turned European/Western linguistics from a pastime into a science). Sanskrit was one of his specialties, and he specifically cited Pāṇini's work as an influence on his own.

Noam Chomsky, who's also sometimes called the father of linguistics, was then deeply influenced by Saussure—many of Chomsky's more influential ideas came about from either defending or refuting Saussure's theories.

And nowadays, it's hard to find any area of linguistics that hasn't been affected (for better or for worse) by Chomsky's work. So on the one hand, yes, pretty much all of modern linguistics has been influenced indirectly by Pāṇini, and some ideas introduced(?) by Pāṇini are now so standard we don't even think about them (such as formal systems and auxiliary symbols). On the other hand, we don't know how much of that is due to Pāṇini and how much is due to his predecessors whose complete works haven't survived, and linguistics as a science in and of itself didn't really exist until the late nineteenth century, long after his death.

So, how much of that you want to attribute to Pāṇini himself is up to you.

  • 2
    I would say Pāṇini outranked Saussure and Chomsky. Without the Aṣṭādhyāyī the West could never have begun scientific linguistics, because there was no systematic phonetics known before it was discovered by Western linguists. The grammar is wonderful, no doubt. But it's the phonetics that drives linguistics. Without sound there is no language, and that's what Pāṇini brought.
    – jlawler
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 0:10
  • 1
    @jlawler True, but Pāṇini's work was around for millennia before anyone put together the modern science of linguistics. It wasn't at all a simple or obvious step from Pāṇini to the _Course in General Linguistics_—if it were, someone would have taken it long before Saussure did.
    – Draconis
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 0:15
  • 1
    They were a little busy for a century or so tracking down PIE. Saussure was reacting against that tradition. All of that research was based on phonetics. As was his.
    – jlawler
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 0:20

It is true that Pāṇini is one of the most ancient named linguists in the world (preceded by Yāska, Śākaṭāyana and Śākalya), and is the best-known of that set. It is also true that the Aṣṭādhyāyī is the oldest surviving work that could be called a "whole grammar". Pāṇini is not the "father" of all linguistics, unless you define "father of all linguistics" as "oldest linguist" (a fallacy that would lead to the conclusion that Sumerian, as the oldest know written language is the father of all languages.

In terms of influence on linguistics qua science over the past 2500 years, outside of Indian Pāṇini had relatively little influence in linguistics because his works were unknown, until more recently they had some influence. His work was known to Sanskrit scholars like Whitney. There is some question regarding the influence of ancient Indic linguistics in the domain of phonetics (it is generally felt that modern phonetics "owes a debt" to knowledge of sound classification via knowledge of Sanskrit). However, the Prātiśākhya's, the "source" of ancient phonetic wisdom, were not the product of Pāṇini. Outside of phonetics, it is dubious to claim that the Aṣṭādhyāyī was the most influential work in linguistics. You can read up on other influences here.

There is, as far as I know, no grammar of English that can be said to be "Pāṇinian". It is likely that the Tolkāppiyam was substantially influenced by Aṣṭādhyāyī. We can argue about whether Chomsky was the father of formally codifying English grammar: it was not Pāṇini.


Father of Linguistics is not an official title that really belongs to anyone. Panini is very important person in history of linguistics but there is no official body to grant this title to him or to anyone else.

  • The answer is very blunt.Great persons are revered by people and they call him so.There need not be an official body to award him so.The westerns called him Father of linguistics.Please read what Byron told about Panini. Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:19
  • 4
    What is the point of your question? You can call him the father of linguistics if you like. Some people do. Some don't. It's a subjective opinion.
    – Milo Bem
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:25
  • some people do not agree anything.That does not change the facts. The answer should show some evidence.We should not express our opinion. Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:29
  • 3
    Is Shakespeare the greatest dramatist? If you think so. It's an opinion. Mostly held by English speakers. Other cultures have their own greatest dramatists. I'm sure there are great dramatists in India, China and Argentina that English people don't know about. You can be proud of your own culture, you don't need confirmation from others.
    – Milo Bem
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:57
  • 1
    @JVL Linguists strive to be scientific and rigorous in their methods. This is a very good answer. This isn't a stylistics site. Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.