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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
      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.
    • 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 2 of 9 , Nov 8, 2004
        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 3 of 9 , Nov 9, 2004
          --- 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 4 of 9 , Nov 9, 2004
            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 5 of 9 , Nov 10, 2004
              --- 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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