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Clauses & Conjunctions - Part 2

Following on from an earlier post detailing relative clauses in Pali , we will continue to examine clause structures. If you remember, a clause consists of a subject (noun phrase) and a verb phrase or to use different lingo, a subject and a predicate . In its simplest form a sentence is just a single clause . Now let’s continue with our analysis. Conjunctions – ca, vā & pi Clauses can be joined to form compound sentences by use of conjunctions . In Pali, these  include:  sace (if), evaṁ (thus), ceva, ca (also, too), iva (like), puna (again), pana (however), ve, have (indeed), vinā (without), aññatra (except), eva (only, just), saha, saddhiṁ (with), vā (or, else), idha (here), huraṁ (there).

Non-Finite verbs [Verbals]: Infinitives & Absolutives

In the last couple of posts I’ve been looking at verb participles . They are a verb form that although called past & present actually have little to do with tense/time and are mainly associated with verb aspect  – the extent to which an action is completed. When they are not playing in the role of main ( finite ) verb of a sentence they are called non-finite or infinite verbs as they aren't 'limited' by tense. In other words, a non-finite verb is any verb that is not the main (finite) verb of the sentence. As such they tend to act or function as verbal adjectives  and are thus often called 'Verbals'. Verbal adjectives act like verbs - in that they form a verb phrase, possibly taking objects and other dependents and modifiers of verbs - however that verb phrase then plays the role of an attributive adjective  in the larger sentence. In Pali they can be divided into two groups: declinable  & non- or indeclinable .  Participles form the declinable g

Participles [active] & Absolute clauses - Part 2

The last post looked at participle acting in passive sentences . In this post we'll continues with participles in active  Pali sentences. Just as a reminder, now that we are with active sentences, the main verb will agree with the agent /subject, which will be in nominative and an active participle formed from a transitive  verb may take an object  in accusative. e.g. bhattaṃ bhuñjanto" "~ eating rice. Present Participles (Active) Present participles in English end with ‘–ing’. When acting as non-finite verbs in Pali they specify actions that occur at the same time as the action of the main verb. Note  the  ‘ present ’ in present participle does not mean present tense but refers to their simultaneous action with the main verb.

Participles [passive] & Gerundives- Part 1

In the last post we looked at passive sentence construction . Now we can move on to take a look at participles  in Pali. This post will focus mainly on their passive  uses. Whereas English has only past & present participle forms, participles in Pali have distinct past, present & also future/potential forms. And unlike English, these forms can change depending on their use in active or passive voice. Also though the past, present & future correspond roughly to the English tenses there are some differences in usage. A feature of participle in Pali is that, although verbs, they tend to behave like adjectives  and thus all forms of participle decline like nouns in case, gender & number. They can be employed in several ways as verbs, adjectives or occasionally nouns. In Pali there are six kinds of participles: Past Active Participles, Past Passive Participles, Present Active participles, Present Passive Participles, Absolutive / Indeclinable Participles, Future

What is a Passive Voice Sentence?

The topic of passive sentences naturally leads onto participles . As such the next two post form a unit and should be read together. Now so far on this blog, we have dealt only with active sentences – where subject performs an action on some target object. With passive  sentences (sometimes called the passive voice) the subject   of the sentence gets something done to them! Compare: (active) (passive) Semantic : agent patient patient agent Grammatic: subject transitive object subject intransitive The vet shot the horse The horse was shot by the vet Notice the pairs of terms:   subject - object and agent – patient . In active sentences the meanings of subject - object and agent - patient are aligned and indeed many grammar guides use them interchangeably. However, it is only with passive sentences th

Clauses & Relative Pronouns - Part 1

First let’s look at what a clause is and explain some terminology. Learning this terminology helps when reading grammar guides like Warder . Clauses - an overview Previously I said that sentence consisted in a noun phrase + a verb phrase. Strictly this is the description of a clause . A sentence can involve of one or more clauses joined by conjunctions . clause conj clause noun verb pronoun verb John shouted and everybody waved

Pronouns substitute for other nouns

Pronouns are words which substitute for other nouns and refer back to someone or something (technically the antecedent). They come in various flavours: Personal pronouns, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘they’ Possessive pronouns, 'mine', 'yours', 'theirs' Demonstrative pronouns, 'this, 'that', 'it' Reflexive pronouns, 'himself', 'oneself' Indefinite pronouns, 'anyone’, ‘anything’, ‘someone’ Interrogative pronouns, 'who?', 'what?', 'which?' - introducing a question and relative pronouns, 'he who', 'which', 'that' - introducing a relative clause Like English, pronouns in Pali alter their form based on gender, number and person and also case. The declension  of pronouns is very irregular. Most grammar guides include full tables of their various forms, so I won't list them here. However I do find that dictionaries often do not list all the declensions so I have created a list whic

Adjectives, Comparatives & Superlatives

Following on from the last post discussing Noun Attributes in Pali , we can now look at adjectives specifically, as well as Comparatives & Superlatives. Adjectives as Attributes An adjective is a word that describes, or qualifies a noun and describes a quality or characteristic. They are often termed 'describing' words:  red, quiet, obedient, cold, new etc. Well actually, in the phrase 'the large cat' technically both 'large' & 'cat' are each nouns, but 'large' is being used as an attributive adjective because it is qualifying another noun, while 'cat' is termed a substantive noun because it represents an actual thing. This is important because in Pali many nouns can function either as substantives or adjectives. In Pali, adjectives take the same  case, gender and number as the substantive nouns they qualify and are usually placed before their substantive. If they come after, this is often for emphasis or there is an

Noun Attributes: Adding a little quality

Usually in Pali, words referring to the same thing are in the same case & number . This is especially true of nominative  & accusative  cases. In order to analyse these constructions we must be aware of some principles. Returning to our previous example. sāriputto mahāpañño dhammaṃ deseti bhikkhunaṃ Nom sgl male Nom sgl male Acc sgl male Pres, Act. sgl 3rdperson

Identifying the Subject of a Pali sentence

When translating Pali, it is useful to begin by identifying the subject of the sentence , the verb corresponding to that subject, and then any objects of the verb. In order to do this, the first task is to determine the stems, case, gender and number of each word in the sentence. I gave brief details of my methods for parsing stem endings in the previous post. So let’s look at an example, consider: Sāriputto mahāpañño dhammaṃ deseti bhikkhunaṃ ( SN 8.6 ) If we use DPR or Pali lookup we can fill out the table below sāriputto mahāpañño dhammaṃ deseti bhikkhunaṃ Case: Number: Gender: Nom sgl male Nom sgl male Acc sgl male Pres,

Pali Noun Cases & Declension - what are they?

What is noun declension? How are noun cases used?  Well, the inflection of nouns is called declension . Inflection is where a word changes form (spelling) to indicate its grammatical role. The individual declensions are grouped into cases, and together they form a case system. If you are at a loss, then this series of posts is for you. Lets start with some terminology. Sentence Structure -  subject  and predicate First to understand Pali we must understand how sentences are constructed. A sentence can be broken down into structural parts called phrases and each phrase plays a different role in the meaning of the sentence. A phrase is just one or more linked words that play a specific role.

Basic Pali Grammar Video Tutorials

Learn Pali Language on YouTube There seems to be a lack of quality video tutorials for learning Pali grammar. I'm no expert, but to rectify this, I'm putting together a series of brief video lessons to help the absolute beginner with the Pali language. So check out 'Learn Pali Language' YouTube channel If you subscribe to my channel you can keep up-to-date with the latest tutorial releases. And don't forget to hit the bell icon or you won't get all the updates! The videos begin with some English grammar basics and work up to the Pali noun case system. This is definitely an ongoing project!... For those wishing to learn vocabulary there are some courses on memrise: https://www.memrise.com/courses/english/pali/ The next post will work through the basics of the Pali case system ...

Pali Alphabet & using the PED Dictionary

How is the alphabet arranged? How do you use a Pali dictionary? Well the Pali alphabet runs as follows. a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o (ṃ*) k, kh, g, gh, (ṅ) c, ch, j, jh, ñ ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, (ḍh), (ṇ) t, th, d, dh, n p, ph, b, bh, m y, r, l, (ḷ), (ḷh), v, s, h Vowels first, then consonants. [Note the letters in brackets have no entries in the dictionary.] Pali is a phonetic  language so each entry above represents a single sound. Every letter always has the same pronunciation regardless of its context, no letter has more than one pronunciation, and no sounds are represented by more than one letter. For pronunciations see this video: The Pali Alphabet & Pronunciation Guide | Learn Pāli Basics A tutorial on how to pronounce the Pali alphabet [in Roman script], its phonetics, and why the niggahīta turns into a nasal - featuring how Pali characters are pronounced - with animations of where... or visit this   YouTube playlist of Pali pronunciation .

Entering Pali Diacritics & the Niggahīta/Anusvara (ṃ)

Diacritics , or diacritical marks, are those curious glyphs added to a letter. The term derives from Ancient Greek. ā ī ū ṅ  ñ ṇ ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ ḷ ṃ ṁ ŋ Pali is a phonetic language and has no written alphabet of its own. Ever since the 1st century, scholars have relied on their own native alphabets to write Pali ! European scholars have thus transliterated Pali into the Roman alphabet and this required its augmentation with additional characters represented by letter-pairs and diacritics. This was fine whilst Pali literature was mainly printed, but with the introduction of computers, the problem arose of how to represent these characters within a standard ASCII font. Many differing methods have been adopted over the years meaning unfortunately that there is no standard way of representing Pali's diacritic characters via the then  limited character sets available on PCs. As a result the student will encounter a variety of legacy approaches some of which include:

Navigating the Sutta Pitaka, A Simple guide to the Numbering Schemes

The Pali canon or Tipiṭaka, meaning “Three Baskets”, is made up from: Vinaya Piṭaka (Basket of Monastic Law) Sutta Piṭaka (Basket of Discourses) Abhidhamma Piṭaka (Basket of Systematic Treatises) Of these, the Sutta Piṭaka or "Basket of Discourses" is further split into the nikāyas or "discourses": Dīgha Nikāya (Long Discourses) Majjhima Nikāya (Middle Discourses) Saṁyutta Nikāya (Linked Discourses) Aṅguttara Nikāya (Numbered Discourses) Khuddaka Nikāya (Minor Discourses) Usually navigating around the Sutta Pitaka is no great issue. For those wishing an overview of the Pali Canon there is: Russel Webb's 'Analysis of the Pali Canon' and  Professor Lo Kay 'Guide to Tipitaka' This post is a comparison of the various reference or numbering systems that you might encounter and a guide to finding your way around. But first it's worth pointing out that there are several editions (sometimes referred to as renditions) of the Pa

How to install The Digital Pali Reader

Hot News. The Digital Pali Reader is now available online as a webpage. Digital Pali Reader (alpha) ---  The remainder of this article is now out of date --- Are you struggling to install the Digital Pali Reader - especially now the DPR requires a version of Mozilla Firefox that supports  legacy extensions  to operate? Well this is installation guide will walk you through the following stages: Have the right Browser installed, Download the DPR Extensions, Load the Extensions into the Browser, Finding the Extension in the Browser The Digital Pali Reader is a most useful tool for the amateur translator. It provides a database of the Tipiṭaka in romanised script with a search facility and the inbuilt dictionaries allow for instant lookup of any word. Although, it does not provide full text translations - which is where SuttaCentral is useful - i t is well worth taking the time to install.

Learn Pali: Best way to start? 5 Tips to make it easy

Once people have answered the question: Why learn Pali?  The next query is: How do I learn Pali? Here’s the way I suggest you begin with your study of Pali. Build foundations for language learning Start at the right level Stick with it Build vocabulary Make use of the Pali language tools 1 Build foundations for language learning One thing that you really should have before beginning to learn Pali is a basic understanding of general grammatical terms and concepts. Many of the Pali language grammar guides seem to assume you have studied Sanskrit or Latin before. If you haven’t, and you really don’t know the difference between a subject and an object, or the meanings of such terms as nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, or declension and conjugation - then perhaps you should spend some time studying English grammar. I found that even though I'm a native English speaker I had to do this in order to progress. And, while I have made a certain effort to e