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Re: english grammar tip of the day

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  • Robert Eddison
    ... I think it is actually a good idea to learn the Pali names for grammatical terms. A knowledge of these is necessary if you wish to read the Pali
    Message 1 of 75 , Sep 3, 2002
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      Robert Kirkpatrick:

      >Thanks for all this Robert.I will study it carefully. I am certainly
      >very interested in your notes - but you might need to add some
      >explanantions
      > One thing that occurs to me when I study the latinate phrases is why
      >are they used at all. Why not use the pali grammatical terms . For
      >those of us who didn't study latin most of the words are new so it is
      >just as easy to learn the pali equivalents. Is it because most of the
      >Pali readers such as Warder use them - and so we need them to
      >comprehend these texts- or are the English terms more precise or
      >convenient?

      I think it is actually a good idea to learn the Pali names for grammatical
      terms. A knowledge of these is necessary if you wish to read the Pali
      commentaries. It can also come in handy when you want to consult any of the
      old grammar treatises, e.g. to see how some word is derived or how a
      complex compound word should be analysed. Also there are some features in
      the Pali language which have no parallel in either English or Latin, and so
      the English names given to these are apt to be imprecise and makeshift.

      On the other hand, I do think it is better for a beginner to start with the
      latinate English terms, unless he has learned an Indian language already or
      is from an Asian country whose language is normally described using
      grammatical terms taken from Pali or Sanskrit (Thailand, for example).
      Firstly because the English terms are MUCH easier to remember. So many of
      the Pali terms are alike that one can easily get them muddled:

      kara.na-vacana, kaarita, kaaraka, kammakaaraka, kammadhaaraya,
      kattukaaraka, kattaa, kriyaa, kiriyaa, kiriyaavisesa, kita, kitaka, kicca,
      kammaka, akammaka, dvikammaka etc.

      And secondly because quite often the English terms are rather more
      informative than the Pali ones. For example, if you don't know what
      'accusative' means you can always look it up in an English dictionary:

      "the case of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives, expressing the object of an
      action or the goal of motion" (Concise Oxford Dictionary).

      You can then invent some mnemonic device to ensure that you remember what
      the accusative is for.

      By contrast, the Pali word for accusative is 'dutiyaa vibhatti' ('second
      declension'), which tells you nothing at all. Similarly with verbs. The
      Pali for the imperative mood (used when giving an order) is merely 'the
      fifth' (pa~ncamii). If you are learning Pali with Warder's book, my
      suggestion is that you stick to the English terms until about lesson 13
      (when the author commences to describe the formation of compounds) and then
      start to learn the Pali ones. A good resource for this is the list of
      grammatical terms in ~Naa.namoli's "Pali-English Glossary of Buddhist
      Technical Terms".

      Best wishes,

      Robert
    • Alan McClure
      Here is an updated version in which I ve clarified the Bahubbiihi section: *_Compound Algorithm:_* It can sometimes be difficult to know which type of compound
      Message 75 of 75 , Oct 21, 2005
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        Here is an updated version in which I've clarified the Bahubbiihi section:



        *_Compound Algorithm:_*

        It can sometimes be difficult to know which type of compound we are
        dealing with. Here is an algorithm that can help you to figure out the
        compound type. When you think that you have found the correct compound,
        consult the above compound guide to double check:



        *1.* If the compound is composed only of numbers as members and the
        first number is larger than the second then it is a dvanda; if the
        second number is larger then it is a digu.


        *2.* If the compound starts with a number and is followed by a
        non-numeral, there are two possibilities. If the two members would be in
        the same case if they were to be separated, then the compound is a digu;
        if the two members would be in different cases, then it is a tappurisa.


        *3.* If the compound starts with an indeclinable that qualifies a
        following noun in the compound, and the whole compound is acting as an
        adverb, the compound is an avyayiibhaava.


        *4.* For all other compounds, try to determine the case of the last
        member as well as what the case of the first member would have been, had
        it not been compounded with the last.

        · If the cases would certainly differ, see 5 below

        · If the cases would certainly be the same, see 6 below

        · If it is impossible to tell for sure, see 7 below

        *5. * If the cases certainly differ, then it is a tappurisa compound.

        *6.* If the cases would certainly be the same, then it is a
        kammadhaaraya or a dvanda. A dvanda will have two or more words that
        don’t qualify each other but are simply being added together as with the
        word “and” between them. In a kammadhaaraya, however, the first member
        of the compound will help to qualify the final member.


        *7. *If it is impossible to tell the cases of the parts of the compound,
        then it may be a tappurisa or kammadhaaraya compound and context and
        doctrinal familiarity should be your guide to figuring out the solution.
        Not all compounds are easily analyzed.


        *8.* If you have a compound that fits the “type” of one of the above
        compounds but the last member is a noun, or is used as a noun, but yet
        this last member is agreeing (case, gender, number) with an external
        noun as would an adjective, regardless of its normal gender, etc., then
        you are dealing with a Bahubbiihi compound. Such a compound will have an
        extocentric focus and be "possessed" by an external noun rather than
        having a relationship to it via simple apposition.

        Please see the above sections on compounds for more thorough information.
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