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Pali () is a Middle
Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also

*Aryan invasion theory (disambiguation) *Indo-Aryan tribes (disambigua ...
liturgical language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most lang ...
native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''
Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something ...
'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' as well as the
sacred language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
of ''
Theravāda Theravāda (; Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invas ...
''
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
.Stargardt, Janice. ''Tracing Thoughts Through Things: The Oldest Pali Texts and the Early Buddhist Archaeology of India and Burma.'', Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2000, page 25. In early time, it was written in
Brahmi script.
Brahmi script.


Origin and development


Etymology

The word 'Pali' is used as a name for the language of the Theravada canon. The word seems to have its origins in commentarial traditions, wherein the ''Pāli'' (in the sense of the line of original text quoted) was distinguished from the commentary or vernacular translation that followed it in the manuscript.
K. R. Norman Kenneth Roy Norman FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * First Baptist Academ ...
suggests that its emergence was based on a misunderstanding of the compound ''pāli-bhāsa'', with ''pāli'' being interpreted as the name of a particular language. The name Pali does not appear in the canonical literature, and in commentary literature is sometimes substituted with ', meaning a string or lineage. This name seems to have emerged in
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
early in the second millennium CE during a resurgence in the use of Pali as a courtly and literary language. As such, the name of the language has caused some debate among scholars of all ages; the spelling of the name also varies, being found with both long "ā" and short "a" , and also with either a
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...

retroflex
or non-retroflex "l" sound. Both the long ā and retroflex ḷ are seen in the
ISO 15919 ISO 15919 "Transliteration of Devanagari and related Indic scripts into Latin characters" is one of a List of ISO romanizations, series of international standards for romanization by the International Organization for Standardization. It was publ ...
/
ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standards for romanization, the representation of text in other writing systems using the Latin script. Applications The system is used to represent bibliographic information ...
rendering, Pāḷi; however, to this day there is no single, standard spelling of the term, and all four possible spellings can be found in textbooks. R. C. Childers translates the word as "series" and states that the language "bears the epithet in consequence of the perfection of its grammatical structure".


Geographic origin

There is persistent confusion as to the relation of to the vernacular spoken in the ancient kingdom of
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, which was located around modern-day Bihār. Beginning in the Theravada commentaries, Pali was identified with '
Magahi The Magahi language (), also known as Magadhi (), is a language spoken in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal states of East India, eastern India, and in the Terai of Nepal. Magadhi Prakrit was the ancestor of Magahi, from which the latter's nam ...
', the language of the kingdom of
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, and this was taken to also be the language that the Buddha used during his life. In the 19th century, the British
Orientalist Orientalist may refer to: *A scholar of Oriental studies *A person or thing relating to the Western intellectual or artistic paradigm known as Orientalism (as in 'an Orientalist painting' or '-painter') *''The Orientalist'', a biography of author L ...
Robert Caesar ChildersImage:RobertCaesarChilders.jpg, Dr. Robert Caesar Childers (1866, London) Robert Caesar Childers (1838 – 25 July 1876) was a United Kingdom, British Orientalism, Orientalist scholar, compiler of the first Pāli-English language, English dictionary ...
argued that the true or geographical name of the Pali language was
Magadhi Prakrit Magadhi Prakrit (Māgadhī) is of one of the three Dramatic Prakrits, the written languages of Ancient India following the decline of Pali and Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛ ...
, and that because ''pāḷi'' means "line, row, series", the early Buddhists extended the meaning of the term to mean "a series of books", so ''pāḷibhāsā'' means "language of the texts". However, modern scholarship has regarded Pali as a mix of several
Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publi ...
languages from around the 3rd century BCE, combined and partially Sanskritized.Bhikkhu Bodhi, ''In the Buddha's Words.'' Wisdom Publications, 2005, page 10. There is no attested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan with all the features of Pali. In the modern era, it has been possible to compare Pali with inscriptions known to be in Magadhi Prakrit, as well as other texts and grammars of that language. While none of the existing sources specifically document pre-Ashokan Magadhi, the available sources suggest that Pali is not equatable with that language. Modern scholars generally regard Pali to have originated from a western dialect, rather than an eastern one.Collins, Steven. "What Is Literature in Pali?" Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia, edited by Sheldon Pollock, University of California Press, 2003, pp. 649–688. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppqxk.19. Accessed 6 May 2020. Pali has some commonalities with both the western Ashokan Edicts at
Girnar Girnar is an ancient hill in , , India. It is one of the Holiest places (''Shashwat Tirth'') for , where the 22nd , Lord attained nirvana. It is also believed to be place where next 24 Tirthankars will attain nirvana in future. The mountain ...

Girnar
in Saurashtra, and the Central-Western Prakrit found in the eastern
Hathigumpha inscription The Hathigumpha Inscription (Trans lit. in Odia as "Elephant Cave" inscription), from Udayagiri, near Bhubaneswar Bhubaneswar () is the capital and largest city of the States and territories of India, Indian state of Odisha. The region, esp ...

Hathigumpha inscription
. These similarities lead scholars to associate Pali with this region of western India.Hirakawa, Akira. Groner, Paul. ''A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna.'' 2007. p. 119 Nonetheless, Pali does retain some eastern features that have been referred to as ''Māgadhisms''. Pāḷi, as a
Middle Indo-Aryan language The Middle Indo-Aryan languages (or Middle Indic languages, sometimes conflated with the Prakrits, which are a stage of Middle Indic) are a historical group of languages of the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan family. They are the descendants of ...
, is different from
Classical Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominally , , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, s ...

Classical Sanskrit
more with regard to its dialectal base than the time of its origin. A number of its morphological and lexical features show that it is not a direct continuation of Sanskrit. Instead it descends from one or more dialects that were, despite many similarities, different from .


Early history

The
Theravada Theravāda (; , lit. "School of the ", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of 's oldest existing school. The school's adherents, termed Th ...
commentaries refer to the Pali language as "
Magadhan The Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, also known as Māgadhan languages, are spoken throughout the eastern Indian subcontinent (East India East India is a region of India consisting of the Indian states of Bihar Bihar (; ) is a state ...
" or the "language of Magadha". This identification first appears in the commentaries, and may have been an attempt by Buddhists to associate themselves more closely with the
Maurya Empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human h ...
. However, only some of the Buddha's teachings were delivered in the historical territory of
Magadha kingdom Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha kingdom
. Scholars consider it likely that he taught in several closely related dialects of Middle Indo-Aryan, which had a high degree of mutual intelligibility. Theravada tradition, as recorded in chronicles like the Mahavamsa, states that the ''Tipitaka'' was first committed to writing during the first century BCE. This move away from the previous tradition of oral preservation is described as being motivated by threats to the ''
Sangha Sangha is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Sangha
'' from famine, war, and the growing influence of the rival tradition of the Abhayagiri Vihara. This account is generally accepted by scholars, though there are indications that Pali had already begun to be recorded in writing by this date. By this point in its history, scholars consider it likely that Pali had already undergone some initial assimilation with
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
, such as the conversion of the Middle-Indic ''bamhana'' to the more familiar Sanskrit ''brāhmana'' that contemporary brahmans used to identify themselves. In Sri Lanka, Pali is thought to have entered into a period of decline ending around the 4th or 5th century (as Sanskrit rose in prominence, and simultaneously, as Buddhism's adherents became a smaller portion of the subcontinent), but ultimately survived. The work of Buddhaghosa was largely responsible for its reemergence as an important scholarly language in Buddhist thought. The ''
Visuddhimagga The ''Visuddhimagga'' (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of sc ...
'', and the other commentaries that Buddhaghosa compiled, codified and condensed the Sinhala commentarial tradition that had been preserved and expanded in Sri Lanka since the 3rd century BCE. With only a few possible exceptions, the entire corpus of Pali texts known today is believed to derive from the
Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya The Anuradhapura Maha Viharaya was an important mahavihara or large Buddhist monastery for Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO; ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅ ...
in Sri Lanka. While literary evidence exists of Theravadins in mainland India surviving into the 13th Century, no Pali texts specifically attributable to this tradition have been recovered. Some texts (such as the
Milindapanha The ''Milinda Pañha'' () is a Buddhist text which dates from sometime between 100 BC and 200 AD. It purports to record a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nāgasena, and the Indo-Greek Kingdom, Indo-Greek king Menander I (Pali: ''Milinda'') of ...
) may have been composed in India before being transmitted to Sri Lanka, but the surviving versions of the texts are those preserved by the Mahavihara in Ceylon and shared with monasteries in Theravada Southeast Asia. The earliest inscriptions in Pali found in mainland Southeast Asia are from the first millennium CE, some possibly dating to as early as the 4th Century. Inscriptions are found in what are now Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia and may have spread from southern India rather than Sri Lanka. By the 11th Century, a so-called "Pali renaissance" began in the vicinity of
Pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
, gradually spreading to the rest of mainland Southeast Asia as royal dynasties sponsored monastic lineages derived from the Mahavihara of Anuradhapura. This era was also characterized by the adoption of Sanskrit conventions and poetic forms (such as '' kavya'') that had not been features of earlier Pali literature.Gornall, Alastair, and Justin Henry. "Beautifully Moral: Cosmopolitan Issues in Medieval Pāli Literary Theory". Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, edited by Zoltán Biedermann and Alan Strathern, UCL Press, London, 2017, pp. 77–93. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1qnw8bs.9. Accessed 15 May 2020. This process began as early as the 5th Century, but intensified early in the second millennium as Pali texts on poetics and composition modeled on Sanskrit forms began to grow in popularity. One milestone of this period was the publication of the Subodhalankara during the 14th Century, a work attributed to Sangharakkhita Mahāsāmi and modeled on the Sanskrit Kavyadarsa. Despite an expansion of the number and influence of Mahavihara-derived monastics, this resurgence of Pali study resulted in no production of any new surviving literary works in Pali. During this era, correspondences between royal courts in Sri Lanka and mainland Southeast Asia were conducted in Pali, and grammars aimed at speakers of Sinhala, Burmese, and other languages were produced.Wijithadhamma, Ven. M. "Pali Grammar and Kingship in Medieval Sri Lanka". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, vol. 60, no. 2, 2015, pp. 49–58. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44737021. Accessed 7 May 2020. The emergence of the term 'Pali' as the name of the language of the Theravada cannon also occurred during this era.


Manuscripts and inscriptions

While Pali is generally recognized as an ancient language, no epigraphical or manuscript evidence has survived from the earliest eras.Anālayo. "The Historical Value of the Pāli Discourses". Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 55, no. 3, 2012, pp. 223–253. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24665100. Accessed 7 May 2020. The earliest samples of Pali discovered are inscriptions believed to date from 5th to 8th Century located in mainland Southeast Asia, specifically central
Siam ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, ...

Siam
and lower
Burma Myanmar (; my, မြန်မာ ) or Burma ( my, ဗမာ ), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos a ...

Burma
.Skilling, Peter. "Reflections on the Pali Literature of Siam". From Birch Bark to Digital Data: Recent Advances in Buddhist Manuscript Research: Papers Presented at the Conference Indic Buddhist Manuscripts: The State of the Field. Stanford, 15–19 June 2009, edited by Paul Harrison and Jens-Uwe Hartmann, 1st ed., Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Wien, 2014, pp. 347–366. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1vw0q4q.25. Accessed 7 May 2020. These inscriptions typically consist of short excerpts from the
Pali Canon Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
and non-canonical texts, and include several examples of the Ye dhamma hetu verse. Surprisingly, the oldest surviving Pali manuscript was discovered in
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
dating to the 9th Century. It is in the form of four folios, using a transitional script deriving from the
Gupta script The Gupta script (sometimes referred to as Gupta Brahmi script or Late Brahmi script)Sharma, Ram. '' 'Brahmi Script' ''. Delhi: BR Publishing Corp, 2002 was used for writing Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally ...
to scribe a fragment of the
Cullavagga Khandhaka is the second book of the Theravadin '' Vinaya Pitaka'' and includes the following two volumes: * Mahāvagga: includes accounts of Gautama Buddha The Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shak ...
. The oldest known manuscripts from Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia date to the 13th-15th Century, with few surviving examples. Very few manuscripts older than 400 years have survived, and complete manuscripts of the four Nikayas are only available in examples from the 17th Century and later.


Early Western research

Pali was first mentioned in Western literature in
Simon de la Loubère Simon may refer to: People * Simon (given name), including a list of people and fictional characters with the given name Simon * Simon (surname), including a list of people with the surname Simon * Eugène Simon, the genus authority ''Simon'' ...
's descriptions of his travels in the kingdom of Siam. An early grammar and dictionary was published by Methodist missionary Benjamin Clough in 1824, and an initial study published by Eugène Burnouf and
Christian Lassen Christian Lassen (22 October 1800 – 8 May 1876) was a Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Nor ...
in 1826 (''Essai Sur Le Pali, Ou Langue Sacree de La Presqu'ile Au-Dela Du Gange''). The first modern Pali-English dictionary was published by Robert Childers in 1872 and 1875.Gethin, R & Straube, M 2018, 'The Pali Text Society’s A Dictionary of Pāli', Bulletin of Chuo Academic Research Institute (Chuo Gakujutsu Kenkyūjo Kiyō), vol. 47, pp. 169–185. Following the foundation of the
Pali Text SocietyThe Pali Text Society is a text publication society A text publication society is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an dis ...
, English Pali studies grew rapidly and Childer's dictionary became outdated. Planning for a new dictionary began in the early 1900s, but delays (including the outbreak of World War I) meant that work was not completed until 1925. T. W. Rhys Davids in his book ''Buddhist India'', and
Wilhelm Geiger Wilhelm Ludwig Geiger (; ; 21 July 1856 – 2 September 1943) was a German Orientalist in the fields of Indo-Iranian languages and the history of Iran and Sri Lanka. He was known as a specialist in Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan litu ...
in his book ''Pāli Literature and Language'', suggested that Pali may have originated as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
or common language of culture among people who used differing dialects in North India, used at the time of the
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an ascetic Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle ...

Buddha
and employed by him. Another scholar states that at that time it was "a refined and elegant vernacular of all Aryan-speaking people". Modern scholarship has not arrived at a consensus on the issue; there are a variety of conflicting theories with supporters and detractors. After the death of the Buddha, Pali may have evolved among Buddhists out of the language of the Buddha as a new artificial language. R. C. Childers, who held to the theory that Pali was Old Magadhi, wrote: "Had Gautama never preached, it is unlikely that Magadhese would have been distinguished from the many other vernaculars of Hindustan, except perhaps by an inherent grace and strength which make it a sort of
Tuscan Tuscan may refer to: Places * A person from, or something of, from, or related to Tuscany, a region of Italy * Tuscan Archipelago Currency * Tuscan pound * Tuscan florin Linguistics * Etruscan language, an extinct language which gives its name t ...
among the Prakrits."


Modern scholarship

According to K. R. Norman, differences between different texts within the canon suggest that it contains material from more than a single dialect. He also suggests it is likely that the viharas in North India had separate collections of material, preserved in the local dialect. In the early period it is likely that no degree of translation was necessary in communicating this material to other areas. Around the time of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
there had been more linguistic divergence, and an attempt was made to assemble all the material. It is possible that a language quite close to the Pali of the canon emerged as a result of this process as a compromise of the various dialects in which the earliest material had been preserved, and this language functioned as a lingua franca among Eastern Buddhists from then on. Following this period, the language underwent a small degree of Sanskritisation (i.e., MIA bamhana > brahmana, tta > tva in some cases).
Bhikkhu Bodhi Bhikkhu Bodhi (born December 10, 1944), born Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Theravāda (; Pali, Pāli, lit. "School of the Thero, Elders", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the ...
, summarizing the current state of scholarship, states that the language is "closely related to the language (or, more likely, the various regional dialects) that the Buddha himself spoke". He goes on to write: According to A. K. Warder, the Pali language is a Prakrit language used in a region of
Western India Western India is a loosely defined region of India consisting of its western part. The Ministry of Home Affairs A ministry of home affairs is a common type of government department Ministry or department, also less commonly used secretaria ...

Western India
.Warder, A. K. ''Indian Buddhism''. 2000. p. 284 Warder associates Pali with the Indian realm (''
janapada The Janapadas () (1100-500 BCE) were the realms A realm is a community or territory over which a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''sou ...

janapada
'') of Avanti, where the
Sthavira nikāya The Sthavira nikāya (Sanskrit "Sect of the Elders"; ) was one of the early Buddhist schools. They split from the majority Mahāsāṃghikas at the time of the Second Buddhist council. Scholarly views Origin The Sthavira nikāya (Sanskrit: "Sect of ...
was centered. Following the initial split in the , the Sthavira nikāya became influential in Western and
South India South India is a region consisting of the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

South India
while the
Mahāsāṃghika The Mahāsāṃghika (Pali "of the Great Sangha (Buddhism), Sangha", ) was one of the early Buddhist schools. Interest in the origins of the Mahāsāṃghika school lies in the fact that their Vinaya recension appears in several ways to represen ...
branch became influential in Central and
East India East India is a region of India consisting of the Indian states of Bihar Bihar (; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department o ...

East India
. Akira Hirakawa and Paul Groner also associate Pali with Western India and the Sthavira nikāya, citing the Saurashtran inscriptions, which are linguistically closest to the Pali language.


Emic views of Pali

Although Sanskrit was said in the
Brahmanical The historical Vedic religion (also known as Vedicism, Vedism or (anachronistically) ancient Hinduism), and subsequent Brahmanism (also called Brahminism), constituted the religious ideas and practices among some of the Indo-Aryan peoples ...

Brahmanical
tradition to be the unchanging language spoken by the gods in which each word had an inherent significance, such views for any language was not shared in the early Buddhist traditions, in which words were only conventional and mutable signs. This view of language naturally extended to Pali and may have contributed to its usage (as an approximation or standardization of local Middle Indic dialects) in place of Sanskrit. However, by the time of the compilation of the Pali commentaries (4th or 5th century), Pali was described by the anonymous authors as the natural language, the root language of all beings. Comparable to
Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
or
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
in the mystic traditions of the West, Pali recitations were often thought to have a
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the Scientific law, laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entity, non-physical entities, such as angels, demons, gods, and ghost, spirits. It ...

supernatural
power (which could be attributed to their meaning, the character of the reciter, or the qualities of the language itself), and in the early strata of Buddhist literature we can already see Pali s used as charms, as, for example, against the bite of snakes. Many people in Theravada cultures still believe that taking a vow in Pali has a special significance, and, as one example of the supernatural power assigned to chanting in the language, the recitation of the vows of

are believed to alleviate the pain of childbirth in Sri Lanka. In Thailand, the chanting of a portion of the is believed to be beneficial to the recently departed, and this ceremony routinely occupies as much as seven working days. There is nothing in the latter text that relates to this subject, and the origins of the custom are unclear.


Pali today

Pali died out as a literary language in mainland India in the fourteenth century but survived elsewhere until the eighteenth. Today Pali is studied mainly to gain access to Buddhist scriptures, and is frequently chanted in a ritual context. The secular literature of Pali historical chronicles, medical texts, and inscriptions is also of great historical importance. The great centres of Pali learning remain in the Theravada nations of Southeast Asia:
Myanmar Myanmar, ); UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, John ...

Myanmar
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
,
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
,
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao "Pheng Sat Lāo" () is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Laos
and
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
. Since the 19th century, various societies for the revival of Pali studies in India have promoted awareness of the language and its literature, including the
Maha Bodhi Society The Maha Bodhi Society is a South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, B ...
founded by . In Europe, the
Pali Text SocietyThe Pali Text Society is a text publication society A text publication society is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an dis ...
has been a major force in promoting the study of Pali by Western scholars since its founding in 1881. Based in the United Kingdom, the society publishes romanized Pali editions, along with many English translations of these sources. In 1869, the first ''Pali Dictionary'' was published using the research of Robert Caesar Childers, one of the founding members of the Pali Text Society. It was the first Pali translated text in English and was published in 1872. Childers' dictionary later received the Volney Prize in 1876. The Pali Text Society was founded in part to compensate for the very low level of funds allocated to Indology in late 19th-century England and the rest of the UK; incongruously, the citizens of the UK were not nearly so robust in Sanskrit and Prakrit language studies as Germany, Russia, and even
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
. Even without the inspiration of colonial holdings such as the former British occupation of Sri Lanka and Burma, institutions such as the
Danish Royal Library The Royal Library ( da, Det Kongelige Bibliotek) in Copenhagen Copenhagen ( da, København ) is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of 1 January 2020, the city had a population of 794,128 with 632,340 in Copenhagen Municipality ...

Danish Royal Library
have built up major collections of Pali manuscripts, and major traditions of Pali studies.


Pali literature

Pali literature is usually divided into canonical and non-canonical or extra-canonical texts. Canonical texts include the whole of the
Pali Canon Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
or ''Tipitaka''. With the exception of three books placed in the Khuddaka Nikaya by only the Burmese tradition, these texts (consisting of the five Nikayas of the
Sutta Pitaka Sutta may refer to: *Sutta Nipata The ' () is a Buddhist scripture, a Sutra, sutta collection in the Khuddaka Nikaya, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Sections The ''Sutta Nipāta'' is divided into five sections: Uraga Vagga ("The ...
, the
Vinaya Pitaka The Vinaya (Pali & Sanskrit) is the division of the Buddhist canon (''Tripitaka'') containing the rules and procedures that govern the Buddhist monastic community, or Sangha (Buddhism), sangha. Three parallel Vinaya traditions remain in use by mo ...
, and the books of the
Abhidhamma Pitaka Abhidharma (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. ...
) are traditionally accepted as containing the words of the Buddha and his immediate disciples by the Theravada tradition. Extra-canonical texts can be divided into several categories: * Commentaries (''
Atthakatha Aṭṭhakathā (Pali for explanation, commentary) refers to Pali-language Theravada, Theravadin Buddhist commentaries to the canonical Theravadin Tipitaka. These commentaries give the traditional interpretations of the scriptures. The major comment ...
'') which record additional details and explanations regarding the contents of the Suttas. * Sub-commentaries ('' ṭīkā'') which explain and add contents to the commentaries * Chronicles (''
VaṃsaVaṃsa, alternatively spelled as Vamsa or Vamsha, is a Sanskrit word that means "family, lineage". It also refers to a genre of ancient and medieval literature in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. This genre focuses on genealogies. They resemble the c ...
'') which relate the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, as well as the origins of famous relics and shrines and the deeds of historical and mythical kings * Manuals and treatises, which include summaries of canonical books and compendia of teachings and techniques like the
Visuddhimagga The ''Visuddhimagga'' (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of sc ...
*
Abhidhamma Abhidharma (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. ...
manuals, which explain the contents of the
Abhidhamma Pitaka Abhidharma (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. ...
Other types of texts present in Pali literature include works on grammar and poetics, medical texts, astrological and
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural ...

divination
texts, cosmologies, and anthologies or collections of material from the canonical literature. While the majority of works in Pali are believed to have originated with the Sri Lankan tradition and then spread to other Theravada regions, some texts may have other origins. The
Milinda Panha The ''Milinda Pañha'' () is a Buddhist texts, Buddhist text which dates from sometime between 100 BC and 200 AD. It purports to record a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nagasena, Nāgasena, and the Indo-Greek Kingdom, Indo-Greek king Menander ...
may have originated in northern India before being translated from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
or Gandhari Prakrit. There are also a number of texts that are believed to have been composed in Pali in Sri Lanka, Thailand & Burma but were not widely circulated. This regional Pali literature is currently relatively little known, particularly in the Thai tradition, with many manuscripts never catalogued or published.


Relationship to other languages


Paiśācī

is a largely unattested literary language of classical India that is mentioned in
Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publi ...
and Sanskrit grammars of antiquity. It is found grouped with the Prakrit languages, with which it shares some linguistic similarities, but was not considered a spoken language by the early grammarians because it was understood to have been purely a literary language. In works of Sanskrit poetics such as
Daṇḍin Daṇḍin () was an Indian Sanskrit grammarian and author of prose romance (heroic literature), romances. He is one of the best-known writers in Asian history. Life His writings were all in Sanskrit language, Sanskrit. Daṇḍin's account ...
's ''
KavyadarshaThe Kavyadarsha ( sa, काव्यादर्श, ) by Dandin is the earliest surviving systematic treatment of poetics Poetics is the theory of literary forms and literary discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversa ...
'', it is also known by the name of , an epithet which can be interpreted as 'dead language' (i.e., with no surviving speakers), or ''bhūta'' means past and ''bhāṣā'' means language i.e. 'a language spoken in the past'. Evidence which lends support to this interpretation is that literature in Paiśācī is fragmentary and extremely rare but may once have been common. The 13th-century Tibetan historian
Buton Rinchen Drub Butön Rinchen Drup (), (1290–1364), 11th Abbot of Shalu Monastery Shalu Monastery () is small monastery south of Shigatse Shigatse, officially known as Xigazê (; , is a prefecture-level city of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's ...
wrote that the
early Buddhist schools The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which the Buddhist monastic Monasticism (from Ancient Greek , , from , , 'alone'), or monkhood, is a religion, religious way of life in which one renounces world (theology), worldly pursuits t ...
were separated by choice of
sacred language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
: the
Mahāsāṃghika The Mahāsāṃghika (Pali "of the Great Sangha (Buddhism), Sangha", ) was one of the early Buddhist schools. Interest in the origins of the Mahāsāṃghika school lies in the fact that their Vinaya recension appears in several ways to represen ...
s used Prākrit, the Sarvāstivādins used Sanskrit, the Sthaviravādins used Paiśācī, and the Saṃmitīya used
Apabhraṃśa Apabhraṃśa ( sa, अपभ्रंश, , Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi sa, 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari sa, प्राकृत, ; psu, 𑀧𑀸𑀉𑀤, ; pka, ; Kannada: ''pāgada'') are a grou ...
. This observation has led some scholars to theorize connections between Pali and Paiśācī;
Sten Konow Sten Konow. Sten Konow (17 April 1867 – 29 June 1948) was a Norwegian Indologist Indology or Indian studies is the academic study of the history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation" ...
concluded that it may have been an Indo-Aryan language spoken by
Dravidian people The Dravidian peoples, or Dravidians, are an ethnolinguistic group originating in South Asia who predominantly speak any of the Dravidian languages. There are around 245 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. Dravidian speakers for ...

Dravidian people
in South India, and Alfred Master noted a number of similarities between surviving fragments and Pali morphology.


Ardha-Magadhi Prakrit

Ardhamagadhi Prakrit was a Middle Indo-Aryan language and a Dramatic Prakrit thought to have been spoken in modern-day Bihar & Eastern Uttar Pradesh and used in some early Buddhist and Jain drama. It was originally thought to be a predecessor of the vernacular Magadhi Prakrit, hence the name (literally "half-Magadhi"). Ardhamāgadhī was prominently used by Jain scholars and is preserved in the Jain Agamas. Ardhamagadhi Prakrit differs from later Magadhi Prakrit in similar ways to Pali, and was often believed to be connected with Pali on the basis of the belief that Pali recorded the speech of the Buddha in an early Magadhi dialect.


Magadhi Prakrit

Magadhi Prakrit was a Middle Indic language spoken in present-day Bihar, and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Its use later expanded southeast to include some regions of modern-day Bengal, Odisha, and Assam, and it was used in some Prakrit dramas to represent vernacular dialogue. Preserved examples of Magadhi Prakrit are from several centuries after the theorized lifetime of the Buddha, and include inscriptions attributed to Asoka Maurya. Differences observed between preserved examples of Magadhi Prakrit and Pali lead scholars to conclude that Pali represented a development of a northwestern dialect of Middle Indic, rather than being a continuation of a language spoken in the area of
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
in the time of the Buddha.


Lexicon

Nearly every word in Pāḷi has
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
s in the other Middle Indo-Aryan languages, the
Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publi ...
s. The relationship to
Vedic Sanskrit Vedic Sanskrit was an ancient language of the Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasi ...
is less direct and more complicated; the Prakrits were descended from Old Indo-Aryan vernaculars. Historically, influence between Pali and Sanskrit has been felt in both directions. The Pali language's resemblance to Sanskrit is often exaggerated by comparing it to later Sanskrit compositions—which were written centuries after Sanskrit ceased to be a living language, and are influenced by developments in
Middle Indic The Middle Indo-Aryan languages (or Middle Indic languages, sometimes conflated with the Prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi sa, 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari sa, प्राकृत, ; psu, 𑀧𑀸𑀉𑀤, ...
, including the direct borrowing of a portion of the Middle Indic lexicon; whereas, a good deal of later Pali technical terminology has been borrowed from the vocabulary of equivalent disciplines in Sanskrit, either directly or with certain phonological adaptations. Post-canonical Pali also possesses a few loan-words from local languages where Pali was used (e.g. Sri Lankans adding Sinhala words to Pali). These usages differentiate the Pali found in the from later compositions such as the Pali commentaries on the canon and folklore (e.g., commentaries on the
Jataka tales The Jataka tales are a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, ...
), and comparative study (and dating) of texts on the basis of such loan-words is now a specialized field unto itself. Pali was not exclusively used to convey the teachings of the Buddha, as can be deduced from the existence of a number of secular texts, such as books of medical science/instruction, in Pali. However, scholarly interest in the language has been focused upon religious and philosophical literature, because of the unique window it opens on one phase in the development of
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
.


Phonology


Vowels

Vowels may be divided into # ## pure vowels: ''a, ā'' ## sonant vowels: ''i, ī, u, ū'' ## diphthongs: ''e, o'' # ## vowels short by nature: ''a, i, u'' ## vowels long by nature: ''ā, ī, ū'' ## vowels of variable length: ''e, o'' Long and short vowels are only contrastive in open syllables; in closed syllables, all vowels are always short. Short and long e and o are in complementary distribution: the short variants occur only in closed syllables, the long variants occur only in open syllables. Short and long e and o are therefore not distinct phonemes. vowels ''e'' and ''o'' are long in an open syllable: at the end of a syllable as in e-tum̩เนตุํ 'to lead' at the end of a syllable as in [so-tum̩] โสตุํ 'to hear' vowels are short in a closed syllable: when followed by a consonant with which they make a syllable as in [upek-khā] 'indifference', [sot-thi] 'safety' For vowels ''ā, ī, ū'', ''e'' appears for ''a'' before double-consonance: : ''seyyā = sayyā'' 'bed' : ''pheggu = phaigu'' 'empty, worthless' The vowels ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ are lengthened in the flexional endings including: ''-īhi, -ūhi and -īsu'' A sound called ''anusvara, anusvāra'' (Skt.; Pali: ''Anusvara, niggahīta''), represented by the letter (ISO 15919) or (ALA-LC) in romanization, and by a raised dot in most traditional alphabets, originally marked the fact that the preceding vowel was nasalized. That is, , and represented , and . In many traditional pronunciations, however, the anusvāra is pronounced more strongly, like the velar nasal , so that these sounds are pronounced instead , and . However pronounced, never follows a long vowel; ā, ī and ū are converted to the corresponding short vowels when is added to a stem ending in a long vowel, e.g. becomes , not , becomes , not *. Changes of vowels due to the structure of the word Final vowels The final consonants of the Sanskrit words have been dropped in Pali and thus all the words end in a vowel or in a nasal vowel: ''kāntāt -> kantā 'from the loved one''; ''kāntāṃ -> kantaṃ 'the loved one'' The final vowels were usually weak in pronunciation and hence they were shortened: ''akārsit -> akāsi 'he did'.''


Consonants

The table below lists the consonants of Pali (using Thai script of the many other possible scripts). In bold is the transliteration of the letter in traditional romanization, and in square brackets its pronunciation transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA. Among the labial consonants, is Labiodental consonant, labiodental and the rest is Bilabial consonant, bilabial. Among the dental/alveolar consonants, the majority is dental but and are Alveolar consonant, alveolar. Of the sounds listed above only the three consonants in parentheses, ṅ, ḷ, and ḷh, are not distinct phonemes in Pali: ṅ only occurs before velar stops, while ḷ and ḷh are allophones of single ḍ and ḍh occurring between vowels. In Pali language, the consonants may be divided according to their strength or power of resistance. The strength decreases in the order of: ''mutes, sibilant, nasals, l, v, y, r'' When two consonants come together, they are subject to one of the following change: # they are assimilation (phonetics), assimilated to each other # they are first adapted and then assimilated to each other # they give rise to a new consonant group # they separated by the insertion of a vowel infix # they are sometimes interchanged by metathesis (linguistics), metathesis Aspirate consonants when one of the two consonants is the sibilant s, then the new group of consonants has the aspiration in the last consonant: ''as-ti (root: as) > atthi'' 'is' the sibilant s, followed by a nasal, is changed to h and then it is transposed after the nasal: ''akas-ma > akah-ma > akamha'' 'we did' Alternation between ''y'' and ''v'' Pali v appears for Skr. y. For instance, ''āvudha -> āyudha'' 'weapon'; ''kasāva -> kasāya'' 'dirt, sin'. After the svarabhakti-vowel I there appear v instead of y as in ''praṭyamsa -> pativimsa.'' Alternation between ''r'' and ''l'' Representation of ''r'' by ''l'' is very common in Pali, and in Pkr. it is the rule for Magadhi, although this substitution occurs sporadically also in other dialect. This, initially, in ''lūjjati -> rūjyate 'falls apart''; sometimes double forms with l and r occur in Skr.: ''lūkha -> lūksa, rūksa 'gross, bad''


Morphology

Pali is a highly inflected language, in which almost every word contains, besides the root conveying the basic meaning, one or more affixes (usually suffixes) which modify the meaning in some way. Nouns are inflected for gender, number, and case; verbal inflections convey information about person, number, tense and mood.


Nominal inflection

Pali nouns inflect for three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and two numbers (singular and plural). The nouns also, in principle, display eight grammatical case, cases: nominative case, nominative or ''paccatta'' case, vocative case, vocative, accusative case, accusative or ''upayoga'' case, instrumental case, instrumental or ' case, dative case, dative or ''sampadāna'' case, ablative case, ablative, genitive case, genitive or ''sāmin'' case, and locative case, locative or ''bhumma'' case; however, in many instances, two or more of these cases are identical in form; this is especially true of the genitive and dative cases.


a-stems

a-stems, whose uninflected stem ends in short ''a'' (), are either masculine or neuter. The masculine and neuter forms differ only in the nominative, vocative, and accusative cases.


ā-stems

Nouns ending in ā () are almost always feminine.


i-stems and u-stems

i-stems and u-stems are either masculine or neuter. The masculine and neuter forms differ only in the nominative and accusative cases. The vocative has the same form as the nominative.


Linguistic analysis of a Pali text

From the opening of the Dhammapada: The three compounds in the first line literally mean: : "whose precursor is mind", "having mind as a fore-goer or leader" : "whose foremost member is mind", "having mind as chief" : "consisting of mind" or "made by mind" The literal meaning is therefore: "The Dharma (Buddhism)#Dharmas in Buddhist phenomenology, dharmas have mind as their leader, mind as their chief, are made of/by mind. If [someone] either speaks or acts with a corrupted mind, from that [cause] suffering goes after him, as the wheel [of a cart follows] the foot of a draught animal." A slightly freer translation by Acharya Buddharakkhita :Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. :If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him :like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.


Conversion between Sanskrit and Pali forms

Pali and Sanskrit are very closely related and the common characteristics of Pali and Sanskrit were always easily recognized by those in India who were familiar with both. A large part of Pali and Sanskrit word-stems are identical in form, differing only in details of inflection. Technical terms from Sanskrit were converted into Pali by a set of conventional phonological transformations. These transformations mimicked a subset of the phonological developments that had occurred in Proto-Pali. Because of the prevalence of these transformations, it is not always possible to tell whether a given Pali word is a part of the old Prakrit lexicon, or a transformed borrowing from Sanskrit. The existence of a Sanskrit word regularly corresponding to a Pali word is not always secure evidence of the Pali etymology, since, in some cases, artificial Sanskrit words were created by back-formation from Prakrit words. The following phonological processes are not intended as an exhaustive description of the historical changes which produced Pali from its Old Indic ancestor, but rather are a summary of the most common phonological equations between Sanskrit and Pali, with no claim to completeness.


Vowels and diphthongs

* Sanskrit ai and au always monophthongize to Pali e and o, respectively ::Examples: maitrī → mettā, auṣadha → osadha * Sanskrit āya, ayā and avā reduce to Pali ā ::Examples: katipayāhaṃ → katipāhaṃ, vaihāyasa → vehāsa, yāvagū → yāgu * Sanskrit aya and ava likewise often reduce to Pali e and o ::Examples: dhārayati → dhāreti, avatāra → otāra, bhavati → hoti * Sanskrit avi and ayū becomes Pali e (i.e. avi → ai → e) and o ::Examples: sthavira → thera, mayūra → mora * Sanskrit ṛ appears in Pali as a, i or u, often agreeing with the vowel in the following syllable. ṛ also sometimes becomes u after labial consonants. ::Examples: kṛta → kata, tṛṣṇa → taṇha, smṛti → sati, ṛṣi → isi, dṛṣṭi → diṭṭhi, ṛddhi → iddhi, ṛju → uju, spṛṣṭa → phuṭṭha, vṛddha → vuddha * Sanskrit long vowels are shortened before a sequence of two following consonants. ::Examples: kṣānti → khanti, rājya → rajja, īśvara → issara, tīrṇa → tiṇṇa, pūrva → pubba


Consonants


Sound changes

* The Sanskrit sibilants ś, ṣ, and s merge as Pali s ::Examples: śaraṇa → saraṇa, doṣa → dosa * The Sanskrit stops ḍ and ḍh become ḷ and ḷh between vowels (as in Vedic) ::Example: cakravāḍa → cakkavāḷa, virūḍha → virūḷha


Assimilations


=General rules

= * Many Assimilation (linguistics), assimilations of one consonant to a neighboring consonant occurred in the development of Pali, producing a large number of Gemination, geminate (double) consonants. Since Aspiration (phonetics), aspiration of a geminate consonant is only phonetically detectable on the last consonant of a cluster, geminate kh, gh, ch, jh, ṭh, ḍh, th, dh, ph and bh appear as kkh, ggh, cch, jjh, ṭṭh, ḍḍh, tth, ddh, pph and bbh, not as ''khkh, ghgh'' etc. * When assimilation would produce a geminate consonant (or a sequence of unaspirated stop+aspirated stop) at the beginning of a word, the initial geminate is simplified to a single consonant. ::Examples: prāṇa → pāṇa (not ''ppāṇa''), sthavira → thera (not ''tthera''), dhyāna → jhāna (not ''jjhāna''), jñāti → ñāti (not ''ññāti'') * When assimilation would produce a sequence of three consonants in the middle of a word, geminates are simplified until there are only two consonants in sequence. ::Examples: uttrāsa → uttāsa (not ''utttāsa''), mantra → manta (not ''mantta''), indra → inda (not ''indda''), vandhya → vañjha (not ''vañjjha'') * The sequence vv resulting from assimilation changes to bb. ::Example: sarva → savva → sabba, pravrajati → pavvajati → pabbajati, divya → divva → dibba, nirvāṇa → nivvāṇa → nibbāna


=Total assimilation

= Total assimilation, where one sound becomes identical to a neighboring sound, is of two types: progressive, where the assimilated sound becomes identical to the following sound; and regressive, where it becomes identical to the preceding sound.


Regressive assimilations

* Internal visarga assimilates to a following voiceless stop or sibilant ::Examples: duḥkṛta → dukkata, duḥkha → dukkha, duḥprajña → duppañña, niḥkrodha (=niṣkrodha) → nikkodha, niḥpakva (=niṣpakva) → nippakka, niḥśoka → nissoka, niḥsattva → nissatta * In a sequence of two dissimilar Sanskrit stops, the first stop assimilates to the second stop ::Examples: vimukti → vimutti, dugdha → duddha, utpāda → uppāda, pudgala → puggala, udghoṣa → ugghosa, adbhuta → abbhuta, śabda → sadda * In a sequence of two dissimilar nasals, the first nasal assimilates to the second nasal ::Example: unmatta → ummatta, pradyumna → pajjunna * j assimilates to a following ñ (i.e., jñ becomes ññ) ::Examples: prajñā → paññā, jñāti → ñāti * The Sanskrit liquid consonants r and l assimilate to a following stop, nasal, sibilant, or v ::Examples: mārga → magga, karma → kamma, varṣa → vassa, kalpa → kappa, sarva → savva → sabba * r assimilates to a following l ::Examples: durlabha → dullabha, nirlopa → nillopa * d sometimes assimilates to a following v, producing vv → bb ::Examples: udvigna → uvvigga → ubbigga, dvādaśa → bārasa (beside dvādasa) * t and d may assimilate to a following s or y when a morpheme boundary intervenes ::Examples: ut+sava → ussava, ud+yāna → uyyāna


Progressive assimilations

* Nasals sometimes assimilate to a preceding stop (in other cases epenthesis occurs) ::Examples: agni → aggi, ātman → atta, prāpnoti → pappoti, śaknoti → sakkoti * m assimilates to an initial sibilant ::Examples: smarati → sarati, smṛti → sati * Nasals assimilate to a preceding stop+sibilant cluster, which then develops in the same way as such clusters without following nasals ::Examples: tīkṣṇa → tikṣa → tikkha, lakṣmī → lakṣī →lakkhī * The Sanskrit liquid consonants r and l assimilate to a preceding stop, nasal, sibilant, or v ::Examples: prāṇa → pāṇa, grāma → gāma, śrāvaka → sāvaka, agra → agga, indra → inda, pravrajati → pavvajati → pabbajati, aśru → assu * y assimilates to preceding non-dental/retroflex stops or nasals ::Examples: cyavati → cavati, jyotiṣ → joti, rājya → rajja, matsya → macchya → maccha, lapsyate → lacchyate → lacchati, abhyāgata → abbhāgata, ākhyāti → akkhāti, saṁkhyā → saṅkhā (but also saṅkhyā), ramya → ramma * y assimilates to preceding non-initial v, producing vv → bb ::Example: divya → divva → dibba, veditavya → veditavva → veditabba, bhāvya → bhavva → bhabba * y and v assimilate to any preceding sibilant, producing ss ::Examples: paśyati → passati, śyena → sena, aśva → assa, īśvara → issara, kariṣyati → karissati, tasya → tassa, svāmin → sāmī * v sometimes assimilates to a preceding stop ::Examples: pakva → pakka, catvāri → cattāri, sattva → satta, dhvaja → dhaja


=Partial and mutual assimilation

= * Sanskrit Sibilant consonant, sibilants before a stop assimilate to that stop, and if that stop is not already aspirated, it becomes aspirated; e.g. śc, st, ṣṭ and sp become cch, tth, ṭṭh and pph ::Examples: paścāt → pacchā, asti → atthi, stava → thava, śreṣṭha → seṭṭha, aṣṭa → aṭṭha, sparśa → phassa * In sibilant-stop-liquid sequences, the liquid is assimilated to the preceding consonant, and the cluster behaves like sibilant-stop sequences; e.g. str and ṣṭr become tth and ṭṭh ::Examples: śāstra → śasta → sattha, rāṣṭra → raṣṭa → raṭṭha * t and p become c before s, and the sibilant assimilates to the preceding sound as an aspirate (i.e., the sequences ts and ps become cch) ::Examples: vatsa → vaccha, apsaras → accharā * A sibilant assimilates to a preceding k as an aspirate (i.e., the sequence kṣ becomes kkh) ::Examples: bhikṣu → bhikkhu, kṣānti → khanti * Any dental or retroflex stop or nasal followed by y converts to the corresponding palatal sound, and the y assimilates to this new consonant, i.e. ty, thy, dy, dhy, ny become cc, cch, jj, jjh, ññ; likewise ṇy becomes ññ. Nasals preceding a stop that becomes palatal share this change. ::Examples: tyajati → cyajati → cajati, satya → sacya → sacca, mithyā → michyā → micchā, vidyā → vijyā → vijjā, madhya → majhya → majjha, anya → añya → añña, puṇya → puñya → puñña, vandhya → vañjhya → vañjjha → vañjha * The sequence mr becomes mb, via the epenthesis of a stop between the nasal and liquid, followed by assimilation of the liquid to the stop and subsequent simplification of the resulting geminate. ::Examples: āmra → ambra → amba, tāmra → tamba


Epenthesis

An Epenthesis, epenthetic vowel is sometimes inserted between certain consonant-sequences. As with ṛ, the vowel may be a, i, or u, depending on the influence of a neighboring consonant or of the vowel in the following syllable. i is often found near i, y, or palatal consonants; u is found near u, v, or labial consonants. * Sequences of stop + nasal are sometimes separated by a or u ::Example: ratna → ratana, padma → paduma (u influenced by labial m) * The sequence sn may become sin initially ::Examples: snāna → sināna, sneha → sineha * i may be inserted between a consonant and l ::Examples: kleśa → kilesa, glāna → gilāna, mlāyati → milāyati, ślāghati → silāghati * An epenthetic vowel may be inserted between an initial sibilant and r ::Example: śrī → sirī * The sequence ry generally becomes riy (i influenced by following y), but is still treated as a two-consonant sequence for the purposes of vowel-shortening ::Example: ārya → arya → ariya, sūrya → surya → suriya, vīrya → virya → viriya * a or i is inserted between r and h ::Example: arhati → arahati, garhā → garahā, barhiṣ → barihisa * There is sporadic epenthesis between other consonant sequences ::Examples: caitya → cetiya (not ''cecca''), vajra → vajira (not ''vajja'')


Other changes

* Any Sanskrit sibilant before a nasal becomes a sequence of nasal followed by h, i.e. ṣṇ, sn and sm become ṇh, nh, and mh ::Examples: tṛṣṇa → taṇha, uṣṇīṣa → uṇhīsa, asmi → amhi * The sequence śn becomes ñh, due to assimilation of the n to the preceding palatal sibilant ::Example: praśna → praśña → pañha * The sequences hy and hv undergo Metathesis (linguistics), metathesis ::Examples: jihvā → jivhā, gṛhya → gayha, guhya → guyha * h undergoes metathesis with a following nasal ::Example: gṛhṇāti → gaṇhāti * y is geminated between e and a vowel ::Examples: śreyas → seyya, Maitreya → Metteyya * Voiced aspirates such as bh and gh on rare occasions become h ::Examples: bhavati → hoti, -ebhiṣ → -ehi, laghu → lahu * Dental and retroflex sounds sporadically change into one another :: Examples: jñāna → ñāṇa (not ''ñāna''), dahati → ḍahati (beside Pali dahati) nīḍa → nīla (not ''nīḷa''), sthāna → ṭhāna (not ''thāna''), duḥkṛta → dukkaṭa (beside Pali dukkata)


Exceptions

There are several notable exceptions to the rules above; many of them are common Prakrit words rather than borrowings from Sanskrit. * ārya → ayya (beside ariya) * guru → garu (adj.) (beside guru (n.)) * puruṣa → purisa (not ''purusa'') * vṛkṣa → rukṣa → rukkha (not ''vakkha'')


Writing


Alphabet with diacritics

Emperor
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
erected a number of pillars with his edicts in at least three regional Prakrit languages in Brahmi script, all of which are quite similar to Pali. Historically, the first written record of the Pali canon is believed to have been composed in Sri Lanka, based on a prior oral tradition. According to the Mahavamsa (the chronicle of Sri Lanka), due to a major famine in the country Buddhist monks wrote down the Pali canon during the time of King Vattagamini in 100 BCE. Bilingual coins containing Pali written in the Kharosthi script and Greek writing were used by James Prinsep to decipher the Kharosthi abugida.Dias, Malini, and Das Miriyagalla. "Brahmi Script in Relation to Mesopotamian Cuneiform". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, vol. 53, 2007, pp. 91–108. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23731201. This script became particularly significant for the study of early Buddhism following the discovery of the Gandharan Buddhist texts. The transmission of written Pali has retained a universal system of alphabetic values, but has expressed those values in a variety of different scripts. In Sri Lanka, Pali texts were recorded in Sinhala script. Other local scripts, most prominently Khmer script, Khmer, Burmese script, Burmese, and in modern times Thai alphabet, Thai (since 1893), Devanāgarī and Mon script (Mon State, Burma) have been used to record Pali. Since the 19th century, Pali has also been written in the Roman script. An alternate scheme devised by Frans Velthuis, called the Velthuis scheme (see #Text in ASCII, § Text in ASCII) allows for typing without diacritics using plain ASCII methods, but is arguably less readable than the standard International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, IAST system, which uses diacritical marks. The Pali alphabetical order is as follows: * a ā i ī u ū e o ṃ k kh g gh ṅ c ch j jh ñ ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ t th d dh n p ph b bh m y r l ḷ v s h ḷh, although a single sound, is written with ligature of ḷ and h.


Transliteration on computers

There are several fonts to use for Pali transliteration. However, older ASCII fonts such as Leedsbit PaliTranslit, Times_Norman, Times_CSX+, Skt Times, Vri RomanPali CN/CB etc., are not recommendable, they are Deprecation, deprecated, since they are not compatible with one another, and are technically out of date. Instead, fonts based on the Unicode standard are recommended. However, not all Unicode fonts contain the necessary characters. To properly display all the diacritic marks used for romanized Pali (or for that matter, Sanskrit), a Unicode font must contain the following character ranges: :* Basic Latin: U+0000 – U+007F :* Latin-1 Supplement: U+0080 – U+00FF :* Latin Extended-A: U+0100 – U+017F :* Latin Extended-B: U+0180 – U+024F :* Latin Extended Additional: U+1E00 – U+1EFF Some Unicode fonts freely available for typesetting Romanized Pali are as follows: :
The Pali Text Society
recommend

an
Gandhari Unicode
for Windows and Linux Computers. :

recommend
Times Ext Roman
and provides links to several Unicode diacriti

an

fonts usable for typing Pali together with ratings and installation instructions. It also provide

for typing diacritics in OpenOffice and MS Office. :
SIL: International
provide
Charis SIL and Charis SIL CompactDoulos SILGentiumGentium Basic, Gentium Book Basic
fonts. Of them, Charis SIL, Gentium Basic and Gentium Book Basic have all 4 styles (regular, italic, bold, bold-italic); so can provide publication quality typesetting. :
Libertine Openfont Project
provides the Linux Libertine font (4 serif styles and many Opentype features) and Linux Biolinum (4 sans-serif styles) at th
SourceForge
:
Junicode
(short for Junius-Unicode) is a Unicode font for medievalists, but it provides all diacritics for typing Pali. It has 4 styles and some Opentype features such as Old Style for numerals. :
Thryomanes
includes all the Roman-alphabet characters available in Unicode along with a subset of the most commonly used Greek and Cyrillic characters, and is available in normal, italic, bold, and bold italic. :
GUST
(Polish TeX User Group) provide
Latin Modern
an
TeX Gyre
fonts. Each font has 4 styles, with the former finding most acceptance among the LaTeX users while the latter is a relatively new family. Of the latter, each typeface in the following families has nearly 1250 glyphs and is available in PostScript, TeX and OpenType formats. :** The ''TeX Gyre Adventor'' family of sans serif fonts is based on the URW Gothic L family. The original font, ITC Avant Garde, ITC Avant Garde Gothic, was designed by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase in 1970. :** The ''TeX Gyre Bonum'' family of serif fonts is based on the URW Bookman L family. The original font, Bookman (typeface), Bookman or Bookman Old Style, was designed by Alexander Phemister in 1860. :** The ''TeX Gyre Chorus'' is a font based on the URW Chancery L Medium Italic font. The original, ITC Zapf Chancery, was designed in 1979 by Hermann Zapf. :** The ''TeX Gyre Cursor'' family of monospace serif fonts is based on the URW Nimbus Mono L family. The original font, Courier (typeface), Courier, was designed by Howard G. (Bud) Kettler in 1955. :** The ''TeX Gyre Heros'' family of sans serif fonts is based on the URW Nimbus Sans L family. The original font, Helvetica, was designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger. :** The ''TeX Gyre Pagella'' family of serif fonts is based on the URW Palladio L family. The original font, Palatino, was designed by Hermann Zapf in the 1940s. :** The ''TeX Gyre Schola'' family of serif fonts is based on the URW Century Schoolbook L family. The original font, Century Schoolbook, was designed by Morris Fuller Benton in 1919. :** The ''TeX Gyre Termes'' family of serif fonts is based on the Nimbus Roman No9 L family. The original font, Times New Roman, Times Roman, was designed by Stanley Morison together with Starling Burgess and Victor Lardent. :* John Smith provide
IndUni
Opentype fonts, based upon URW++ fonts. Of them: :** ''IndUni-C'' is Courier-lookalike; :** ''IndUni-H'' is Helvetica-lookalike; :** ''IndUni-N'' is New Century Schoolbook-lookalike; :** ''IndUni-P'' is Palatino-lookalike; :** ''IndUni-T'' is Times-lookalike; :** ''IndUni-CMono'' is Courier-lookalike but monospaced; :* An English Buddhist monk titled Bhikkhu Pesala provides som

he has designed himself. Of them: :** ''Acariya'' is a Garamond style typeface derived from Guru (regular, italic, bold, bold italic). :** ''Balava'' is a revival of Baskerville derived fro
Libre Baskerville
(regular, italic, bold, bold italic). :** ''Cankama'' is a Gothic, Black Letter script. Regular style only. :** (''Carita'' has been discontinued.) :** ''Garava'' was designed for body text with a generous x-height and economical copyfit. It include

(as OpenType Features), and Heavy styles besides the usual four styles (regular, italic, bold, bold italic). :** Guru is a condensed Garamond style typeface designed for economy of copy-fit. A hundred A4 pages of text set in Pali would be about 98 pages if set in Acariya, 95 if set in Garava or Times New Roman, but only 90 if set in Guru.(regular, italic, bold, bold italic styles). :** ''Hari'' is a hand-writing script derived from Allura by Robert E. Leuschke.(Regular style only). :** (''Hattha'' has been discontinued) :** ''Jivita'' is an original Sans Serif typeface for body text. (regular, italic, bold, bold italic). :** ''Kabala'' is a distinctive Sans Serif typeface designed for display text or headings. Regular, italic, bold and bold italic styles. :** ''Lekhana'' is a Zapf Chancery clone, a flowing script that can be used for correspondence or body text. Regular, italic, bold and bold italic styles. :** ''Mahakampa'' is a hand-writing script derived from Great Vibes by Robert E. Leuschke. Regular type style. :** ''Mandala'' is designed for display text or headings. Regular, italic, bold and bold italic styles. :** ''Nacca'' is a hand-writing script derived from Dancing Script by Pablo Impallari and released on Font Squirrel. Regular type style. :** ''Odana'' is a calligraphic brush font suitable for headlines, titles, or short texts where a less formal appearance is wanted. Regular style only. :** ''Open Sans'' is a Sans Serif font suitable for body text. Ten type styles. :** ''Pali'' is a clone of Hermann Zapf's Palatino. Regular, italic, bold and bold italic styles. :** ''Sukhumala'' is derived from Sort Mills Goudy. Five type styles :** ''Talapanna'' is a clone of Goudy Bertham, with decorative gothic capitals and extra ligatures in the Private Use Area. Regular and bold styles. :** (''Talapatta'' is discontinued.) :** ''Veluvana'' is another brush calligraphic font but basic Greek glyphs are taken from ''Guru''. Regular style only. :** ''Verajja'' is derived from Bitstream Vera. Regular, italic, bold and bold italic styles. :** ''VerajjaPDA'' is a cut-down version of ''Verajja'' without symbols. For use on PDA devices. Regular, italic, bold and bold italic styles. :** He also provides som

for Windows XP. :

of Alanwood's Unicode Resources have links to several general purpose fonts that can be used for Pali typing if they cover the character ranges above. Some of the latest fonts coming with Windows 7 can also be used to type transliterated Pali: ''Arial'', ''Calibri'', ''Cambria'', ''Courier New'', ''Microsoft Sans Serif'', ''Segoe UI'', ''Segoe UI Light'', ''Segoe UI Semibold'', ''Tahoma'', and ''Times New Roman''. And some of them have 4 styles each hence usable in professional typesetting: ''Arial, Calibri'' and ''Segoe UI'' are sans-serif fonts, ''Cambria'' and ''Times New Roman'' are serif fonts and ''Courier New'' is a monospace font.


Text in ASCII

The Devanagari transliteration#Velthuis, Velthuis scheme was originally developed in 1991 by Frans Velthuis for use with his "devnag" Devanāgarī font, designed for the TeX typesetting system. This system of representing Pali diacritical marks has been used in some websites and discussion lists. However, as the Web itself and email software slowly evolve towards the Unicode encoding standard, this system has become almost unnecessary and obsolete. The following table compares various conventional renderings and shortcut key assignments:


See also

* Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit


Footnotes


References


Citations


General sources

* See entries for "Pali" (written by
K. R. Norman Kenneth Roy Norman FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * First Baptist Academ ...
of the Pali Text Society) and "India—Buddhism" in ''The Concise Encyclopedia of Language and Religion'' (Sawyer ed.), * * *


Further reading

* American National Standards Institute. (1979). ''American National Standard system for the romanization of Lao, Khmer, and Pali''. New York: The institute. * * Perniola, V. (1997). ''Pali Grammar'', Oxford, The Pali Text Society. * Steven Collins (Buddhist studies scholar), Collins, Steven (2006). ''A Pali Grammar for Students''. Silkworm Press. * Gupta, K. M. (2006). ''Linguistic approach to meaning in Pali''. New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan. * Hazra, K. L. (1994). ''Pāli language and literature: a systematic survey and historical study''. Emerging perceptions in Buddhist studies, no. 4–5. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld. * Müller, E. (2003). ''The Pali language: a simplified grammar''. Trubner's collection of simplified grammars. London: Trubner. * Russell Webb (ed.) ''An Analysis of the Pali Canon'', Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy; 1975, 1991 (see http://www.bps.lk/reference.asp) * Soothill, W. E., & Hodous, L. (1937). ''A dictionary of Chinese Buddhist terms: with Sanskrit and English equivalents and a Sanskrit-Pali index''. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. * Bhikkhu Nanamoli. ''A Pāli-English Glossary of Buddhist technical terms''. * Mahathera Buddhadatta (1998). ''Concise Pāli-English Dictionary. Quickly find the meaning of a word, without the detailed grammatical and contextual analysis.'' * Wallis, Glenn (2011). ''Buddhavacana, a Pali reader'' (PDF eBook). . * Lynn Martineau (1998). ''Pāli Workbook Pāli Vocabulary from the 10-day Vipassana Course of S. N. Goenka''. .


External links

*
Reconstruction of Ancient Indian sound clusters on the basis of Pali sounds (according to "Grammatik des Pali" by Achim Fahs)

Buddhadatta Mahāthera, A. P. (1958). ''Concise Pāli-English Dictionary''.
{{Authority control Pali, Formal languages used for Indian scriptures Indo-Aryan languages, Pali Magahi language