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Re: Beginning Pali

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  • John Kelly
    Dear Gerard, Welcome to the wonderful world of learning Pali! I see you have lots of advice already, and much of it recommending Warder. While I think Warder
    Message 1 of 7 , Mar 20, 2006
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      Dear Gerard,

      Welcome to the wonderful world of learning Pali!
      I see you have lots of advice already, and much of it recommending
      Warder. While I think Warder is essential eventually, I do not at all
      think it is a good book for complete beginners. But this is just my
      opinion - perhaps with your background in Latin and Greek you will
      find it straightforward.

      My recommendations would be:

      1. Start with the "Pali Primer" by Lily de Silva.
      This is a very accessible introduction to the
      language, and provides lots of exercise sentences for
      translating Pali to English and also English to Pali.
      It goes at a nice slow pace and introduces gradually
      the important concepts of noun declension and verb
      conjugation, unfamiliar to most English speakers.
      It's main limitation is that it does not use examples
      from the suttas in its exercises and it's presentation
      of material in the later chapters lacks a little
      depth. This book is easy to find, and even available
      to use directly from the internet
      Alternatively start with one of the other basic
      books like Narada's Elementary Pali, which is also
      freely available on the web.

      2. After getting some basics under your belt, I
      strongly recommend "The New Course in Reading Pali" by
      Gair and Karunatillake. I have worked through it
      entirely and found that having completed the Pali
      Primer beforehand helped a lot but is not absolutely
      necessary. The authors are very thorough in their
      treatment of the grammar and all the exercise material
      is directly taken from the suttas, which is a very
      good feature.

      3. The standard textbook "Introduction to Pali" by A.
      K. Warder covers all the basics in a very thorough
      way, and I would consider it a must for all Pali
      students eventually. The exercise material is also
      right from the canon (specifically, the Digha Nikaya),
      and very useful in that respect. But it is a
      difficult book for a beginner, and not for the faint
      of heart! Warder presents so much detail on each topic
      that this tends to be overwhelming and off-putting for
      someone just starting out. However, after tackling
      some other elementary texts first, then it becomes
      relatively easy to handle.

      Answers to the exercises from these and other textbooks can be found
      on this group's web-site at http://www.tipitaka.net/pali/palidd/.

      Whichever way you choose - good luck, and stick to it!

      With metta,
      --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Gerard" <gmblok@...> wrote:
      > I sincerely want to start with Pali.
      > There is no possibility to do a course in Pali, in Holland, so I
      have to do in on my own.
      > Could anyone advice me about how to proceed? Is there maybe a
      correspondenc course that you can follow? What book should I study,
      for instance, and maybe there will me more tips about studying Pali?
      > Just to inform you: I studied greek and latin in my younger years.
      > Many thanks in advance!
      > Gerard Blok, Amsterdam
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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