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Showing posts from June, 2018

'Secondary' verb derivations - Verb Conjugation - Part 4

The Pali verb tenses/moods discussed so far are termed primary derivations. What is known as a secondary   stem can be developed from a primary stem by the addition of a new 'secondary infix or by the replacement of an existing suffix. Counter-intuitively, a secondary inflection usually precedes the primary inflection! There are 5 secondary verb derivations: Passive :  is used to turn a transitive verb into the passive voice Causative :  is used with instructions. It is extensively used in Paḷi. Desiderative :  is used to indicate a wish or the desire. The desiderative is not extensively used in Paḷi. Intensive : The intensive (also called “frequentive”) is used to indicate the frequent repetition or the intensification of the action expressed. The intensive is not extensively used in Paḷi. Denominative : are nouns that have been converted into verbs. They are rare except in poetry.

Aorist tense - Verb Conjugation - Part 3

The term aorist  derives from the grammar of ancient Greek. In Pali, it can be regarded as a simple past tense. Note however, the use of the aorist tense in Pali covers both the simple past, the present perfect and occasionally also the imperfect aspect . For example, agami can mean:  he/she went" (simple past), "he/she has gone" (present perfect), and occasionally (imperfect) "he/she was going. It should also be noted that the past tense has largely been subsumed by the past participle. Checkout this video tutorial on Tense and aspect in Pali. Tense vs Aspect & Participles in Pali Following on from the previous tutorial on tenses of the English Language, this tutorial looks at Tense & Aspect in the Pali language. You will see the difference between inflection and auxiliary verb... Formation of the Aorist The formation of past tense in Pali can be confusing as it has its origins in Sanskrit which has multiple forms of past tense , m

Moods - Verb Conjugation - Part 2

Tense and Moody? Must be a Verb... Pāḷi has three moods  in the present tense, which are used to express the speaker’s attitude toward the action. These are: Indicative : used to express statement of fact. Optative : used to express wishes or hopes Imperative : used to express commands and invitations The conditional too is often classified as a mood rather than a tense. All of these moods exist only in the present tense (though the conditional is often placed with the future tense). Each of the other tenses has only one mood. We saw the indicative mood in the last post.

Simple Present tense - Verb Conjugation - Part 1

The inflection of verbs is known as “ conjugation ”. It consists of changes in form to show differences in person, number, tense, mood, and voice. In this post we will start our look at the present tense in Pali. By now you may have realised that the available tools (DPR & Pali Lookup) are good but not infallible when it comes to detecting the inflections of Pali verbs. Nouns tend to be straightforward, there are many groups but the ending are fairly regular. However, verbs and their derivatives can be very irregular and multitudinous and not all the variations are caught by the automated parser - nor the dictionary. This then can cause the amateur translator hours of frustration in their attempts to search for that one illusive word not in the dictionary.

Delving into Noun Declension

So having covered syntax, I'm going to look more closely at inflection - noun declension in this post and verb conjugation following on. Formally, declension is the variation in the endings of nouns, pronouns, & adjectives, by which grammatical case, number, and gender are identified. This subject is dealt with in many grammar guides and summary tables, so I'll be brief. For an overview of Pali cases see my previous post. Nouns can be classified in various ways: There are 3 genders (masculine, feminine & neuter). The stems of nouns in Pali (how they are listed in the dictionary) mainly end in vowels a, ā, i, ī u, ū  (there's 'go' a cow, in -o but that's the only one). So we take these as the main declension classes. There are some vestigial stems that end in consonants but these are mainly secondary derivations i.e. agent nouns , participles , possessives etc.

Guide to Noun Cases

The inflection (altering of form) of nouns is called  declension . The classes of declensions are called  cases , and together they form the  Noun case system . In Pali, nouns, pronouns, adjectives and participles are declined in eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, ablative, genitive, dative and locative. This post summaries the various Pali noun cases that we have discussed so far (and some we haven't). English has largely lost its case system although personal pronouns still have three cases, which are simplified forms of the nominative, accusative and genitive cases. In Pali, a noun is placed in one or other case as is required by its grammatical function in the sentence. With the exception of the nominative, vocative and some instances of the accusative case, the oblique cases as they are termed can be rendered in English by  prepositional phrases .

Deciphering Compound Words

Two or more words combined together to form a single composite term is called a compound – e.g.  blackboard, blackbird, homemade etc.  In older parts of the canon, Pali compounds are simple and seldom contain more than two or three elements, but they become more complicated in later language. Compounds have occurred in some examples used in previous posts where I have generally separated the terms with a ‘+’ and glossed over their compound nature. Sometimes it is just a sequence of words which often appear together and over time have become joined. These are called syntactic compounds. Other compounds however are of specific types. As a general rule, all members of a composite term are in their stem forms (no inflection of case, person or gender) except the final term which is inflected according to its gender, casting the whole composite to that inflection. The separate stems are merged using the rules of sandhi (joining) making compounds tricky sometime to tease apart. T

A Quick Reference Guide to help Dissect Clauses

We’ve covered a lot of Pali syntax already and this post is a recap and summary. I’ve put together a quick reference guide to Subject-Verb Agreement to aid students (and myself ) when attempting to translate. This helps to determine which word belongs where... I’ll paraphrase Duroiselle & Bomhard here:  Clauses in Pali have at least two elements: The “subject” — the person, place, or thing which the sentence is about – always in nominative case or implied. The “predicate” — that which happens to the subject. The predicate may contain: A main finite verb, in which case it must agree with the subject in number and person. A past passive participle used as a finite verb., in which case it must agree with the subject in gender and number. (Present participles never appear as finite verbs) A noun with an implied hoti ‘to be’ understood after it, in the same case and usually number, but no concord of gender or number need take place! An adjective with an implied hoti ‘to be’