The panel invites researchers working on the early modern lexicographical and grammatical traditions and on the historical context of the encounter between India and Europe before William Jones and the emergence of European academic Indology.
From the sixteenth century onwards, Europeans began to study South Asian languages and compose grammars and dictionaries, starting with the first draft of a Tamil grammar for European learners, sketched by the Jesuit Fr. Henrique Henriques around 1549. These European endeavors took place in a cultural environment where grammatical and lexicographical studies had been practiced for centuries with a great sophistication, leading to masterpieces like the Aṣṭādhyāyī and the Tolkāppiyam, respectively for Sanskrit and Tamil. This panel wants to promote a conversation on the lexicographical and grammatical endeavours that occurred in the context of the early modern encounter between India and Europe, before William Jones and the emergence of European academic Indology in the early 19th century. We are particularly interested in studying the development of a European linguistic knowledge of India and South Asia at large, from the sixteenth until the first half of the eighteenth century, encompassing figures like the Jesuits Thomas Stephens and Jerome Xavier, respectively working in the Salsete peninsula (Goa) and at the court of Akbar the Great, as well as the Capuchin Francois-Marie de Tours' dictionary and grammar of the "lingua Mogolana". This panel is promoted by a scholars working on de Tours' linguistic opus on Hindustānī and aims to contextualize that early eighteenth century endeavour in the relation to the other European encounters with South Asian languages in the early modern time.