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Dvandva or Dwandwa (द्वंद्व dvandva "pair") is a term from Sanskrit grammar that denotes a certain type of compound . In linguistic terminology, a dvandva is a copulative or coordinative compound word . The Dvandva denotes a list of individual members. In German this corresponds to a string with "and". As a rule, the gender of the Dvandva compound corresponds to the last member, the number to the sum of the members (i.e. dual with two, plural with three or more members). Examples:

  • आचार्यशिष्यौ ācārya-śiṣyau (dual): literally "teacher-student" = "teacher and student"
  • हरिहरौ hari-harau (dual): literally "Hari-Haras" = "Hari and Hara" ( Vishnu and Shiva )
  • देवमनुष्याः deva-manuṣyāḥ (plural): literally "god-people" = "gods and people" (plural)
  • नराश्वरथदन्तिनः nar-āśva-ratha-dantinaḥ (plural): literally "man-horse-chariot-elephants" = "men, horses, chariots and elephants" (plural)

Kinship nouns ending in -ṛ are subject to a special rule: If two kinship nouns are connected, the first term is not in the stem form, as usual, but in the nominative:

  • मातापितरौ mātā-pitarau : literally "mother-fathers" = "mother and father" (dual)

Less often a dvandva expresses a collective unity. In this case it appears as a neuter singular . Example:

  • सुखदुःखम् sukha-duḥkham : literally "luck-bad luck" = "luck and bad luck"

In German, the Dvandvas have no direct equivalent, but in linguistic lexica (Bußmann, Metzler) they are often referred to as copulative compounds (examples: sweet and sour, Baden-Württemberg, black red gold). In the Indian tradition, the dvandva has a special reputation; Krishna says in verse 10.33 of the Bhagavadgita “I am the A among the characters, the Dvandva among the compound words”.

See also


  • Adolf Friedrich Stenzler : Elementary book of the Sanskrit language. 19th, through u. verb. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 2003.