Pali Sentence/Word Stress

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Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby Tom » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:46 am

Since the Pali Canon is supposedly a written record of an oral tradition of Buddhism, is it known which words in the Pali sentences were stressed? I ask this because some sentences can take on different meanings when a different word in the sentence is stressed.
This illustrates my point: (I've taken the following example from this site - http://esl.about.com/cs/pronunciation/a/a_wordstress.htm)

Take this sentence for example:

I said she might consider a new haircut.

When different words are stressed, the sentence can have different meanings.

I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: It was my idea.
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: Don't you understand me?
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: Not another person.
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: It's a possibility.
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: Not something else.

Aside from sentence stress, I'd also like to know if it is known which syllables were stressed in the words of the sentences, since syllable stress can also affect the meaning of a word: (Following example comes from this site-http://www.ehow.com/info_12075045_stress-changes-meaning-words-sentences.html)
"For example, one definition of the word "subject," when pronounced SUB-ject, is a topic of discussion. If the stress falls on the last syllable, as in sub-JECT, then the word becomes a verb, meaning to cause someone to suffer."
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:09 am

Hi ccharles,

There are some rules about stress on syllables, though it seems they vary between countries (as does pronunciation and chanting style), since local language rules may tend to overpower Pali rules (In Thai, for example, the second syllable of a two-syllable words is stressed).

See, for example:
http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=DumN ... es&f=false
http://wiki.audtip.org/wiki/pali/pali-p ... s_emphasis

Since stress is determined by rules, it has nothing to do with meaning. Also, rhythm in Pali is determined by vowel length rather than stress. See, for example:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #pronounce

:anjali:
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby Tom » Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:27 am

Thanks, I could understand if syllable stress doesn't affect the meaning much, but how about the stressing of whole words, like in the example I gave?
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:49 am

I hope someone who is actually a Pali expert can comment, but I suspect that such stress would not affect the meaning, and adding it may not even make sense. Some aspects of English just don't apply to other languages, for various reasons. For example, you can't use a rising tone to ask a question in a tonal language like Thai or a Chinese dialect, since changing the tone would change the meaning of the word. Instead you have to add question particles at the end of the sentence (like: "We go home, yes/no").

:anjali:
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby Dmytro » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:25 am

Hi ccharles,

In Pali, words can be emphasized either by word order (whatever is more important comes first) or by clitic particles.

Default basic word order:

SVO "cows eat grass" -- English; Finnish; Chinese; Swahili.
SOV "cows grass eat" -- PALI; Hindi/Urdu; Turkish; Japanese; Korean.
VSO "eat cows grass" -- Classical Arabic; Welsh; Samoan.
VOS "eat grass cows" -- Malagasy (An Austronesian language of Madagascar); Tzotzil (a Mayan language of Central America).
OSV "grass cows eat" -- Kabardian (a language of northern Caucasus).
OVS "grass eat cows" -- Hixkaryana (a Carib language of Brazil).

(This is from SBS Atlas of Languages, published by ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-7333-1211-X)
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby Sylvester » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:17 pm

Not forgetting the augmentive prefices.
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby frank k » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:19 am

That is an interesting question on word stress within sentences. I'm happy if people can just get long vowels and syllables within the word pronounced correctly. If you pronounce a short as a long or a long as a short, it often results in communicating a completely different word with different meaning. Also people not doing full stops and long syllables on double consonants.

I imagine that once there is a thriving community of fluent pali speakers in modern times, word stress within sentences would develop naturally to communicate nuance, jokes, puns, emphasis.

I also wondered if there was word stress within sentence to indicate question.
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby Bakmoon » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:54 am

ccharles wrote:Since the Pali Canon is supposedly a written record of an oral tradition of Buddhism, is it known which words in the Pali sentences were stressed? I ask this because some sentences can take on different meanings when a different word in the sentence is stressed.
This illustrates my point: (I've taken the following example from this site - http://esl.about.com/cs/pronunciation/a/a_wordstress.htm)

Take this sentence for example:

I said she might consider a new haircut.

When different words are stressed, the sentence can have different meanings.

I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: It was my idea.
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: Don't you understand me?
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: Not another person.
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: It's a possibility.
I said she might consider a new haircut.
Meaning: Not something else.

Aside from sentence stress, I'd also like to know if it is known which syllables were stressed in the words of the sentences, since syllable stress can also affect the meaning of a word: (Following example comes from this site-http://www.ehow.com/info_12075045_stress-changes-meaning-words-sentences.html)
"For example, one definition of the word "subject," when pronounced SUB-ject, is a topic of discussion. If the stress falls on the last syllable, as in sub-JECT, then the word becomes a verb, meaning to cause someone to suffer."


Pali is a highly inflected language, with not only the verbs taking all sorts of endings for person, number, tense, mood, etc..., but nouns and adjectives taking endings for number, gender, and case. Because of this, you can move around words a fair around in a Pali sentence without changing the meaning. What does change when you change the order is emphasis. If you want to emphasize the object of the sentence, you might move it up to be the first word in the sentence or something like that. A lot of languages (Latin comes to mind) do it this way.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Pali Sentence/Word Stress

Postby Sekha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:38 pm

Dmytro wrote:Hi ccharles,

In Pali, words can be emphasized either by word order (whatever is more important comes first) or by clitic particles.

:thumbsup: :goodpost:

I think this chiefly includes the word "kho", and the (generally suffix)-particle "-pi"

ex:
Idaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ ariya·saccaṃ: jāti·pi dukkhā, jarā·pi dukkhā (byādhi·pi dukkho) maraṇam·pi dukkhaṃ, a·p·piyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampicchaṃ na labhati tam·pi dukkhaṃ; saṃkhittena pañc·upādāna·k·khandhā dukkhā.

http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samy ... 6-011.html
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