TAMIL NADU

Indus script

Sir, — R. Nagaswamy (Open Page, July 2) has attributed a statement to me which I never made. According to him: Reviewing Asko Parpola's present hypothesis, Mahadevan says, ``His (Parpola's) decipherment based on the hypothesis has not been taken seriously, because of his lack of familiarity with the Dravidian languages and linguistics.''

This is a garbled quotation. Parpola's name within the parantheses and outside is not there in the original at all. To put the record straight, this is what I said in the review cited by Dr. Nagaswamy: ``The latest attempt to decipher the Indus script, prior to the publication of the present work, has been made by Walter Fairservis, the distinguished American archaeologist with long experience in Harappan excavations. He has manually arranged the Indus sign sequences in a `grid' to bring out their functional characteristics and syntactical patterns. The analysis is sound, but his model of decipherment based on the Dravidian hypothesis (published in 1992 shortly before his death) has not been taken seriously because of his lack of familiarity with the Dravidian languages and linguistic techniques.'' As long as the Indus script remains undeciphered, every attempted decipherment will be, and must be, subjected to the severest criticism. But such criticism must be fair.

Iravatham Mahadevan, Chennai

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