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Re: Unwritten language

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  • emillersa1
    Thank you for a succinct response which a great deal of sense. ... other
    Message 1 of 9 , Nov 8, 2004
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      Thank you for a succinct response which a great deal of sense.


      --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Ong Yong Peng" <ypong001@y...> wrote:
      >
      > Dear Ed and friends,
      >
      > Pali, not doubt, is a "dead language". But, it is still liturgical,
      > i.e. used in chanting in Theravada countries, preserving its spoken
      > aspect. Buddhist texts are still written in Pali, preserving its
      > written aspect (with South Asian, Southeast Asian and Roman
      > scripts). Further insights into its grammatical structure and
      > etymological aspects can all be derived from comparative language
      > studies. Most of the Pali texts have also been translated into
      other
      > languages, such as Chinese and Tibetan (and then to Japanese and
      > Korean). Hence, the doctrinal authenticity is preserved too.
      >
      >
      > metta,
      > Yong Peng
      >
      >
      > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, emillersa1 wrote:
      >
      > I am confused. How is it that scholars can provide correct
      > pronunciation and correct grammatical structure, yet it is a "dead
      > language" that was only a spoken language. At least with Latin and
      > ancient Greek there are written records left to compare to modern
      > languages.
    • Piya Tan
      Dear Yong Peng, It is an academic question whether Pali is a dead language or not. Technically, a dead language was once a living spoken language. Pali however
      Message 2 of 9 , Nov 8, 2004
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        Dear Yong Peng,

        It is an academic question whether Pali is a dead language or not. Technically, a
        dead language was once a living spoken language. Pali however was never a "living
        spoken" language. It was a Kunstsprache used by monks probably from the Avantii
        region, with additions and modifications to recite the Buddha's Teachings. The
        language spoken by the Avantii people is probably dead by now or evolved into
        something modern.

        As such, I think it is more correct to call Pali a "sacred language" that is, we use
        it only for scriptural purposes, and not as a spoken language. Although I remember my
        abbot, the present acting Sangharaja of Thailand speaking Pali to the Sinhalese monks
        in Sri Lanka since neither side was conversant with the language of the other.

        Sukhi

        Piya

        Ong Yong Peng wrote:

        > Dear Ed and friends,
        >
        > Pali, not doubt, is a "dead language". But, it is still liturgical,
        > i.e. used in chanting in Theravada countries, preserving its spoken
        > aspect. Buddhist texts are still written in Pali, preserving its
        > written aspect (with South Asian, Southeast Asian and Roman
        > scripts). Further insights into its grammatical structure and
        > etymological aspects can all be derived from comparative language
        > studies. Most of the Pali texts have also been translated into other
        > languages, such as Chinese and Tibetan (and then to Japanese and
        > Korean). Hence, the doctrinal authenticity is preserved too.
        >
        > metta,
        > Yong Peng
        >
        > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, emillersa1 wrote:
        >
        > I am confused. How is it that scholars can provide correct
        > pronunciation and correct grammatical structure, yet it is a "dead
        > language" that was only a spoken language. At least with Latin and
        > ancient Greek there are written records left to compare to modern
        > languages.
        >
        >
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      • Gunnar Gällmo
        ... I would like to re-formulate that: Pali however was never anyone s first language. It was a Plansprache... For two reasons: 1. Any language with a
        Message 3 of 9 , Nov 8, 2004
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          --- Piya Tan <libris@...> skrev:
          >
          > Pali however was never a "living
          > spoken" language. It was a Kunstsprache...

          I would like to re-formulate that:

          "Pali however was never anyone's first language. It
          was a Plansprache..."

          For two reasons:

          1. Any language with a normalized grammar and spelling
          is more or less artificial; therefore, the term
          "Kunstsprache" ("artificial language") for languages
          like Volapük and Esperanto tends now to be replaced by
          "Plansprache" ("planned language").

          2. It is perfectly possible for a planned language to
          be a "living spoken" one, as can be testified by
          anyone who has visited an Esperanto congress - where,
          for many of its participants, the "artificial"
          language is actually more "living" than their second
          or third national language.

          What makes me doubt that Pali was ever a "living
          spoken" language, therefore, is not the fact that it
          is an artificial language, and perhaps a planned one,
          but the fact that it is so specialized. All Pali texts
          either deal directly with Buddhist matters (like the
          Tipitaka), or makes use of Buddhism for political
          goals (like the Mahava"msa), or are written to get
          into contact with Buddhists (like the Pali translation
          of the Bible), so the language seems never to have
          been meant for general use about everyday secular
          life.

          Gunnar


          =====
          gunnargallmo@...
        • Edward Miller
          If Pali wasn t a lingua franca of northern India, then what language did the Buddha speak? ... I would like to re-formulate that: Pali however was never
          Message 4 of 9 , Nov 8, 2004
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            If Pali wasn't a lingua franca of northern India, then what language did the Buddha speak?

            Gunnar G�llmo <gunnargallmo@...> wrote:--- Piya Tan <libris@...> skrev:
            >
            > Pali however was never a "living
            > spoken" language. It was a Kunstsprache...

            I would like to re-formulate that:

            "Pali however was never anyone's first language. It
            was a Plansprache..."

            For two reasons:

            1. Any language with a normalized grammar and spelling
            is more or less artificial; therefore, the term
            "Kunstsprache" ("artificial language") for languages
            like Volap�k and Esperanto tends now to be replaced by
            "Plansprache" ("planned language").

            2. It is perfectly possible for a planned language to
            be a "living spoken" one, as can be testified by
            anyone who has visited an Esperanto congress - where,
            for many of its participants, the "artificial"
            language is actually more "living" than their second
            or third national language.

            What makes me doubt that Pali was ever a "living
            spoken" language, therefore, is not the fact that it
            is an artificial language, and perhaps a planned one,
            but the fact that it is so specialized. All Pali texts
            either deal directly with Buddhist matters (like the
            Tipitaka), or makes use of Buddhism for political
            goals (like the Mahava"msa), or are written to get
            into contact with Buddhists (like the Pali translation
            of the Bible), so the language seems never to have
            been meant for general use about everyday secular
            life.

            Gunnar


            =====
            gunnargallmo@...


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          • Derek
            ... Dear Edward, It is sometimes said that the Buddha spoke the Magadhi language. The trouble is, we have no records of the Magadhi language, so simply saying
            Message 5 of 9 , Nov 9, 2004
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              --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Edward Miller <emillersa1@s...> wrote:
              > If Pali wasn't a lingua franca of northern India, then what
              > language did the Buddha speak?

              Dear Edward,

              It is sometimes said that the Buddha spoke the Magadhi language. The
              trouble is, we have no records of the Magadhi language, so simply
              saying "the Buddha spoke Magadhi" may or may not answer your
              question!

              Two hundred years after the time of the Buddha, yhe emperor Ashoka
              (3rd century B.C.) had pillars with edicts on them put up over large
              parts of India, and by studying the edicts on these pillars we can
              get some idea of the way language varied from place to place. Hence
              we can speculate a little about what Magadhi may have looked like.
              For example the vocative plural form bhikkhave is thought to be
              typically Magadhi. But that's about as far as we can go.

              Derek.
            • Ong Yong Peng
              Dear Derek, Edward, Gunnar, Piya and friends, thanks for the interesting discussion. To the common beliefs that 1. the Buddha may have never spoken Pali, 2.
              Message 6 of 9 , Nov 9, 2004
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                Dear Derek, Edward, Gunnar, Piya and friends,

                thanks for the interesting discussion. To the common beliefs that

                1. the Buddha may have never spoken Pali,
                2. the Buddha spoke the Magadhi language.

                I would like to add that due to the fact the Buddha spent a good
                portion of his time in Magadha, and Kapilavatu was a political ally
                of Magadha, Magadhi was the dialect most often used by Him.

                However, Magadhi was not the only vernacular the Buddha used. The
                Buddha had also learnt the 'religious language' of the Vedas.
                Furthermore, He did not set a particular language to be superior
                than others. As recorded in the Tipitaka, the Buddha allows his
                disciples to preach the Dhamma in the local language.

                The Buddha's footsteps covered the entire Northern India and Nepal.
                So, it is unlikely that he spoke only one language. Just like it was
                impossible to travel across Europe and preached to masses all in one
                language.

                It is interesting to note that while each sutta records certain
                statistics of the meeting, such as the place, time and attendees,
                there is no mention of the language used.

                My guesses are:

                1. The reciter (Ananda) of the suttas did not perceive language as
                an issue. It is known to the assembly of the Arhats the Buddhist
                attitude towards language usage (as the mean to an end, Zen
                saying: "finger pointing the moon"), hence it is not recorded.

                2. It is social norm for people to speak in different tongues in
                different places. This is especially true as the Buddhist sangha was
                not elitist and did not promote the use of the Vedic language. So,
                the language used was not much of a concern for the records, as it
                is (for academic purpose) today.


                metta,
                Yong Peng


                --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Derek wrote:
                > If Pali wasn't a lingua franca of northern India, then what
                > language did the Buddha speak?


                It is sometimes said that the Buddha spoke the Magadhi language. The
                trouble is, we have no records of the Magadhi language, so simply
                saying "the Buddha spoke Magadhi" may or may not answer your
                question!

                Two hundred years after the time of the Buddha, yhe emperor Ashoka
                (3rd century B.C.) had pillars with edicts on them put up over large
                parts of India, and by studying the edicts on these pillars we can
                get some idea of the way language varied from place to place. Hence
                we can speculate a little about what Magadhi may have looked like.
                For example the vocative plural form bhikkhave is thought to be
                typically Magadhi. But that's about as far as we can go.
              • Gunnar Gällmo
                ... That s my theory as well. Asokas edicts, also, were written in different local Prakrits. That was practical when dealing with texts cut in stone, and not
                Message 7 of 9 , Nov 10, 2004
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                  --- Ong Yong Peng <ypong001@...> skrev:
                  >

                  > However, Magadhi was not the only vernacular the
                  > Buddha used.

                  ...

                  > The Buddha's footsteps covered the entire Northern
                  > India and Nepal.
                  > So, it is unlikely that he spoke only one language.

                  That's my theory as well. Asokas edicts, also, were
                  written in different local Prakrits. That was
                  practical when dealing with texts cut in stone, and
                  not to be carried around; but the Tipitaka, obviously,
                  needed some kind of standardized language, so I think
                  the members of the first council just elected one of
                  the Prakrits, or perhaps made a new one, without
                  making a great fuss about it.

                  Gunnar


                  =====
                  gunnargallmo@...
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