Project Idea: The Case for electronic "Pali by Numbers"
I would really like to see a word study electronic book (word processor
file) created for the top 1000 word forms in Pali for the following reasons:
a) Learning Effectiveness: These word forms include the most common grammar
*and* the most common words. A book like this would be a great help to
b) Student Motivation: It is very motivating to know with certainty that
efforts are being concentrated on both the most important words and the most
important grammar right from the beginning. The frequency counts inspire
confidence, a feeling of progress, and personal satisfaction.
c) No Cost: creating a 1000 page electronic book (word processor file) means
that people would not have to pay a lot of money for a paper book, the file
can be emailed easily, students could simply delete any "word forms" that
they have already mastered from their personal copy of the book, and
students could easily add their own notes/examples to their copy of the
d) Helpfulness: I could add information about the most common word forms to
the Paliwords electronic dictionary so that students would get the word
form, the baseword, grammar notes and perhaps examples.
I can say from personal experience that my first 100 hours of Pali study did
a) the ability to read the Pali Canon
b) the ability to easily start a "personal diary" in Pali.
And here are the resources I had: 3 free grammars books, my handy Paliwords
electronic English/Pali-Pali/English dictionary (with 21,000 Pali entries
and 28,000 English entries), Palitrans 1.0, the CSCD (the entire Pali Canon)
and access to Pali Internet newsgroups.
100 hours of study and no useful results is definitely not motivating.
So, here's the status:
a) the CSCD is wonderful
b) the "Access to Insight" website provides English language translations
c) the free grammar books really do provide the "most common grammar" (I
d) Paliwords 4.0 makes it very fast and easy to look up words *as you see
them* in the Pali texts, but it does not provide any grammar tips or notes -
just the words.
The free grammar books do *not* provide the most common words. They do not
provide all of the grammar needed to understand those word forms. They do
not provide useful words and expressions for personal conversation.
So, I figured that the following was needed:
a) Palitrans 2.0 - so that I could easily keep a Pali diary and practice
b) the most common word forms.
My original goal was to make it possible to *master* Pali with 650 hours of
study time (one hour a day over 2 years). Based on my research in word form
and grammar frequency - I've lowered this number to 350 hours. That said, my
current "calculated number" for mastering Pali is 150 hours of study time.
(Basic Pali in 50 hours, Intermediate after 100 hours, and Mastery after 150
hours.) In other words, a person in a hurry could learn good solid basic
Pali in a week. Sounds crazy, huh?
At this time, the key component is a reference work on the word forms.
Now, I can't do this alone, and posting 1 word per day on the list for
comment would mean that the project would take about 9 years (3 days per
word times 1000 word forms). I'm currently concentrating on a "fast-track"
Pali grammar and getting the software Paliwords 5.0 done.
On the other hand, a Pali teacher or advanced Pali person could probably do
10 words a day. The material doesn't have to be "perfect", and they could do
it off the top of their head. Secondly, they could incorporate the material
into their Pali courses.
So, this email is followed by a second email - Project Proposal: "Pali by
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