Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

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Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:02 am

Greetings,

I've read on a few occasions that the Pali used in the commentaries is more difficult to decipher than the Pali used in the Pali Suttas.

Is this because of the introduction of new concepts and/or is it the result of some kind of structural or grammatical transition?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Kare » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:54 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

I've read on a few occasions that the Pali used in the commentaries is more difficult to decipher than the Pali used in the Pali Suttas.

Is this because of the introduction of new concepts and/or is it the result of some kind of structural or grammatical transition?

Metta,
Retro. :)


The structure of sentences is often more complex in the commentaries than in the suttas. It is not necessarily more difficult. But it is different. And since tutors centre on the sutta style, the transition to reading commentaries can sometimes be a little difficult. When I started learning Pali and had worked my way through Warder, I thought I could read Pali fairly well - but then the commentaries hit me like a ton of bricks!

Well, after the first shock I found that most of the commentaries are not so difficult after all. Sometimes they are very clear and logical in structure. But someone really ought to write a tutor for commentarial Pali. Pali needs a book similar to Gary a. Tubb and Emery R. Boose: "Scholastic Sanskrit". But Pali and Sanskrit are so close that if you know some Pali, "Scholastic Sanskrit" can also be useful for dechifring the commentarial idioms in Pali.
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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:12 pm

Very interesting I have heard that sanskrit is a useful language to know for pali, but I have heard that the difference between the sutta and comentarial is quite likely to be gramatical evolution, and the Suttas will be behind their time to a degree because of the oral tradition which dates further back.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Kare » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:31 pm

Manapa wrote:Very interesting I have heard that sanskrit is a useful language to know for pali, but I have heard that the difference between the sutta and comentarial is quite likely to be gramatical evolution, and the Suttas will be behind their time to a degree because of the oral tradition which dates further back.


Yes, the sutta style is oral, while the commentarial style is based on writing. This difference creates different idioms of expression. Sanskrit is very close to Pali, and it is useful to know something of both. For Theravada studies Pali is of course the more important language, but for comparison it is also interesting to read Sanskrit. And there exist some texts in Sanskrit from the other early schools that are very parallell to the Pali texts, as for instance the Arthavinishcaya Sutra. A few peculiarities in Pali are also easier to explain by referring to Sanskrit.
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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:43 pm

Kare wrote: A few peculiarities in Pali are also easier to explain by referring to Sanskrit.


How do you mean?
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Kare » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:19 pm

Manapa wrote:
Kare wrote: A few peculiarities in Pali are also easier to explain by referring to Sanskrit.


How do you mean?


For instance some cases of doubling of consonants. As in the title Dhammacakkappavattanasutta. This composite is dhammacakka + pavattana(sutta). So how does ...cakka+pavattana... become ...cakkappavattana...? This is explained by seing that the Pali prefix pa- is pra- in Sanskrit. The consonant cluster pr- becomes a single p- in beginning of words, but -pr- becomes -pp- inside a word or in a composite. If we did not know about the Sanskrit pra-, the doubling of the p (ppa-) in Pali would be very difficult to understand.
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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:28 pm

Gotcha,
thought you meant something else then!
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Kare » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:51 pm

Manapa wrote:Gotcha,
thought you meant something else then!


OK, I'll bite .... What did you think I meant?
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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:56 pm

Kare wrote:
Manapa wrote:Gotcha,
thought you meant something else then!


OK, I'll bite .... What did you think I meant?


MY ARM MY ARM YOU BIT OFF MY ARM lol

I thought you meant how words were broken down like a little discussion on the pali forum for (instance using part of the discussion from there) Dhammachariya which I thought was broken down into Dhamma Achariya but was mistaken as it broke down into Dhamma chariya for condunct instead of teacher in the instance I was asking about.
That is what I thought you meant.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Kare » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:34 pm

Manapa wrote:
Kare wrote:
Manapa wrote:Gotcha,
thought you meant something else then!


OK, I'll bite .... What did you think I meant?


MY ARM MY ARM YOU BIT OFF MY ARM lol


Sorry to disarm you. Can we call for an armistice? :anjali:

I thought you meant how words were broken down like a little discussion on the pali forum for (instance using part of the discussion from there) Dhammachariya which I thought was broken down into Dhamma Achariya but was mistaken as it broke down into Dhamma chariya for condunct instead of teacher in the instance I was asking about.
That is what I thought you meant.


Breaking down composite words can be problematic in both Pali and Sanskrit. A well-known example is tathaagata. Do we read it as tathaa+gata? or tathaa+aagata? or tatha+aagata? (My preference is tatha+aagata.) But this problem is the same in Pali and Sanskrit.
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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:33 pm

:cookoo: Its all I can do now :)
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Commentarial Pali versus Sutta Pali

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:44 pm

Greetings,

Thank you Kare and Manapa for your comments.

:buddha2:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)


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