Re: [Pali] Re: Gair Karunatillake Answers - Chapters 8-9
I am sorry I cannot agree with your negative views on etymology. One of the
ways (only one, but still an important one) in which we can work out the
meaning of a word is via its etymology. Semantic fields of all words change
with context and over time and it is this problem which leads not just to
misunderstandings but also to the long debates on exact meanings of passages
(often with important doctrinal consequences). To ignore this problem puts
us in the position of "knowing" ahead of time the meaning we want to get out
of the text but the words and the grammar don't support it so we decide the
words and the grammar are irrelevant.
Of more importance to context than the date of the publication of MW was the
lack of a BHS dictionary which had to wait until Edgerton. It is vital that
we remember that any doctionary builds on all previous dictionaries, they
each have (or should have) a clear understanding of their purpose and role
which may or may not meet the purpose and roles users see for it, and each
dictionary is merely one person's or group of people's views of the meaning
and usage of the item at the time.
However, at least you don't confuse etymology and meaning - there has been a
discussion elsewhere on the etymology of "karuna" and none of the replies
have more than scouted the edge of the question and most have concentrated
on glosses of the word in the commentaries - in other words, on the meanings
of the word in the opinion of various commentators rather than on its
I am not sure what you mean by an "academic linguist" as opposed to an
"amateur" - surely these are not merely not mutually exclusive but should
be, in our field, handmaidens to each other? We cannot get at the texts
without a lot of linguistics since there is so much material that is
untranslated into modern languages we can read and often we have as yet no
satisfactory dictionaries to help us out (as happens with some of the
Prakrit material). Similarly, if we were not amateurs we wouldn't be in the
field in the first place.
I totally agree that the work of Margaret Cone on the Pali Dictionary is
absolutely essential and thus far excellent - but this is not to denigrate
the old PTS dictionary. For one thing, that one is at least complete. You
still the PTS PED alongside as well as the CPD (as far as that has got so
far)and when they fail there is always the Burmese Pali dictionary to fall
back on. The reason I suggest this is that any dictionary (even one that
concentrates on meanings)has a very limited scope and the citations can only
cover the most frequent examples - you can be sure that the text you get
stuck on will have a meaning not attested in the dictionaries at hand and
you may even find that the commentaries, if they exist, disagree. In some
cases it is difficult to be sure of the actual meaning (rhino horns and
geese spring to mind here)
Incidentally one criticism I have of MW is that it sometimes has obscure
usages as examples and misses a common one - I wonder whether the pundit
advisors he used sometimes had a small smile at his expense)
Keep up the good work
>From: "paulocuana" <paulocuana@...>_________________________________________________________________
>Subject: [Pali] Re: Gair Karunatillake Answers - Chapters 8-9
>Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2002 03:40:02 -0000
>I was very happy to hear that the PTS was working on a new dictionary,
>and the first volume of "A Pali Dictionary" by Ms. Margaret Cone is
>very satisfying. The problem with the PED is its dogged commitment
>to etymology. While the history of words has its place among the more
>academic linguists, surely most of us amateurs read the texts for
>their meaning. Ms. Cone's dictionary is much welcomed as it focuses
>on meaning and usage instead of history.
>As to Monier-Williams, wasn't the first edition published in 1851?
>I see references to an Oxford reprint edition of 1899 but I'm not sure
>this is the same thing you are referring to.
>Paul O Cuana
>--- In Pali@y..., "������� ���������� ��������� (Dimitry A.
>Ivakhnenko)" <koleso@i...> wrote:
> > Reconstructing rare Pali word on the basis of Sanskrit equivalent
> > common practice widely used by "paliglots", including Mr Rhys Davids
> > himself.
> > When PED was compiled in the beginning of 20th century, such
> > as Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary didn't exist yet. So we
> > use such resources wisely in difficult cases.
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- Dear Paul,
Ms. Cone's dictionary is a step forward, but still has a lot to
improve. What for are those numerous Pali citations without
explanation - nowadays anyone can find any number of relevant
citations on computer. PED is more friendly in this regard. It also
has many pioneering discoveries of the meanings, be they right or
wrong. Ms. Cone's dictionary often simply preserves them and does not
reflect active work of thought. It gives impression that
philological Pali thought has somewhat stagnated since 1925.
p> As to Monier-Williams, wasn't the first edition published in 1851?
p> I see references to an Oxford reprint edition of 1899 but I'm not sure
p> this is the same thing you are referring to.
I don't know its exact publication date. The fact is that
Monier-Williams dictionary is not included in the list of consulted
sources of PED.
Etymology represents an important constituent of linguistic studies -
alongside with actual context, commentarial glosses, definitions,
equivalents in other languages. We should use all these tools for
- Dear Robert,
RD> Of more importance to context than the date of the publication of MW was the
RD> lack of a BHS dictionary which had to wait until Edgerton.
Can you please tell more about Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary by
F. Edgerton? How relevant it is to Pali studies?
- Dear Dimitry
The point I was making was partly that the search for meanings and
etymologies of Pali and Prakrit texts is likely to prove less fruitful if
one looks in classical Sanskrit as attested in MW than it is to be if one
looks at forms reflected BHS. For this reason if the compilers of the PED
were to have needed recourse to a Sanskrit dictionary they would have found
Edgerton a lot more useful if only because the examples were drawn almost
exclusively from Buddhist materials.
They probably would have used used Boehtlingk of course rather than MW but
their stated sources do not indicate this (neither are mentioned, though
they do mention both Brugmann and Grassmann - and their foreword is well
worth a read for considerable insight into their perspective).
Edgerton's dictionary was not published until around 1950 (there are current
editions published by Motilal Banarsidass) but as with any dictionary, these
don't get written overnight anymore than one might find a publisher
I am not sure if I have adequately answered your question, Dimitry, but
please let me know if I have totally missed the target.
>From: "������� ���������� ��������� (Dimitry A. Ivakhnenko)"_________________________________________________________________
>To: Robert Didham <Pali@yahoogroups.com>
>Subject: Re: [Pali] Re: Gair Karunatillake Answers - Chapters 8-9
>Date: Sun, 1 Dec 2002 10:00:53 +0200
>RD> Of more importance to context than the date of the publication of MW
>RD> lack of a BHS dictionary which had to wait until Edgerton.
>Can you please tell more about Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary by
>F. Edgerton? How relevant it is to Pali studies?
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- Dear Dimitry,
I don't wish to be contentious but it seems important
that one should know the date of publication of
Monier-Williams before stating that it didn't exist at
the time the PED was compiled. Not knowing anything
about Sanskrit, I was genuinely confused by the
to the point that I thought perhaps there were two
people named M-W and I'm still not convinced of this.
This is to say nothing of the question that the
existence of M-W leaves open, i.e. why did Rys-Davids
and Stede not choose M-W.
As to the two PTS dictionaries, the old focuses on
etymology and the new on meaning and usage. Both are
fine works and I didn't mean to denigrate the old.
I think you'll find that Ms. Cone uses quotations to
illustrate meaning and mere citations to show the
of texts, usually canonical, where a word is found.
I did think your criticism of Ms. Cone was rather
and it recalled a humourous poem that Dorothy Parker
wrote. Now remember this is all in good fun. I
believe Mrs. Parker wrote the poem in response to a
friend of hers who had criticized the work of Charles
Those who call him spurious and shoddy
Shall do so over my lifeless body,
I do invite such birds
To step outside and say those words.
Thank you, Dimitry, for all that you contribute.
With sincere best wishes,
--- "������� ���������� ��������� (Dimitry A.
Ivakhnenko)" <koleso@...> wrote:
> Dear Paul,__________________________________________________
> Ms. Cone's dictionary is a step forward, but still
> has a lot to
> improve. What for are those numerous Pali citations
> explanation - nowadays anyone can find any number of
> citations on computer. PED is more friendly in this
> regard. It also
> has many pioneering discoveries of the meanings, be
> they right or
> wrong. Ms. Cone's dictionary often simply preserves
> them and does not
> reflect active work of thought. It gives impression
> philological Pali thought has somewhat stagnated
> since 1925.
> p> As to Monier-Williams, wasn't the first edition
> published in 1851?
> p> I see references to an Oxford reprint edition of
> 1899 but I'm not sure
> p> this is the same thing you are referring to.
> I don't know its exact publication date. The fact is
> Monier-Williams dictionary is not included in the
> list of consulted
> sources of PED.
> Etymology represents an important constituent of
> linguistic studies -
> alongside with actual context, commentarial glosses,
> equivalents in other languages. We should use all
> these tools for
> better understanding.
> Best Wishes,
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