Using Relational Grammar
- To all
After posting the Relational Grammar, I think I should explain how we
in Burma use it in learning and teaching Pali.
We view the word order in Pali sentences as a wholly stylistic matter
and rely instead on word-to-word relations to make out the content of
a sentence. Relational grammar is a tool to help us define these
relations. For short and clear sentences, it may be just a bother but
it becomes very powerful when we deal with long, complicated
sentences, for, we have to think of only two words at any given time
irrespective of the length or complexity of the sentence.
The usual process that a Burmese reader undergoes in reading Pali
using Relational grammar is as follows:
1. The main verb is identified and analysed. From the composition of
the verb, we can know the voice, etc of the sentence.
2. Then a subject (or object) having due agreement with the main verb
is found out and the proper relation of these two words (i.e., the
verb and its subject or object) is defined.
[We should note here that, in Burmese view, Pali voices are not a
quality of the whole sentence but only of verbs and corresponding
subjects or objects. For instance, if the veb is active, it would have
an active subject or active object. Moreover, we don't have, in
contrast with English, the concept of a "grammatical subject" ]
3. Afterwards, the remaining words are taken one by one and have their
relations with others defined. If the relation defined is correct for
any given pair of words, it would make sense in the given context.
When all words have been exhausted, the sense of the whole sentence
would become transparent.
There are certain requirements to be fulfilled if one wishes to make
effective use of the Relational grammar.
1. You may find that most of relations given therein are classified in
categories of different noun cases. It means that a student should
have the ability to analyse nouns in a given sentence into their
respective nominal stems and possible cases. This skill is possible
only after a proper digestion of declensions.
2. He or she should be able to analyse conjugated verbs and primary
derivatives, for they are used as main verbs.
I would like to ask you to give it a try; you won't certainly regret it.
If you have any question, please post direct to my mailbox
ashinpal@..., for I am only an occasional visitor to the group
and I am afraid I might miss your messages. However, I would give my
answers to the whole group.