Is Pāṇini’s grammar prescriptive or descriptive, or perhaps both at the same time? The answer determines, among many other things, how we should render vā and vibhāṣā in his optional rules. If the grammar is prescriptive, these terms can mean “preferably” and “marginally”. If it is purely descriptive, then only “frequently” and “rarely” are appropriate translations. In Pāṇini as a Variationist (henceforth PV )I suggested that both translations are equally valid, on the grounds that the Aṣṭādhyāyī is at the same time a faithful record of the usage of a community of śiṣṭas, and part of a project to canonize that usage as correct, meant to be binding on all users of the language. Devasthali (1983), however, objected that the idea of “better” or “worse” usage is “foreign to the ancient Sanskrit grammatical works and grammarians”, because they do not deal with incorrect apaśabdas, only with sādhusabdas – the correct words of the divine language
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