Pali pronunciation

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Mkoll
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Mkoll » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:00 am

:thanks:
Peace,
James

ElissaJ
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby ElissaJ » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:25 am

Hi everyone.

Is there a place where there is a Pali / English dictionary that includes either an audio of the word or a pronunciation guide for that word (like in good old Webster's English dictionaries)?

Thanks!

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:38 am

ElissaJ wrote:Hi everyone.

Is there a place where there is a Pali / English dictionary that includes either an audio of the word or a pronunciation guide for that word (like in good old Webster's English dictionaries)?


I doubt it for there isn't any need for it. For English words one needs such a thing because their pronunciation is so vagarious, but this is not at all the case with Pali words. Once one has learned the rules of Pali pronunciation —which can be done with just a few hours study and practice— there will be no Pali words that one cannot pronounce correctly.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:58 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Here is a good one from Dhamma Wheel member Bhikkhu Pesala with audio sound:

http://www.aimwell.org/Help/Pali/pali.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My Pali Pronunciation Page has moved to here.

Later, I will updated it to look like this page.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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mikenz66
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:15 am

That's a good point, Bhante Dhammanando, and, actually, it seems that English is one of the least phonetic languages. Pali, Thai, etc, are certainly much more phonetic.

However, there are some regional variations in Pali pronunciation. I'm most familiar with the Thai pronunciation, and can do passable renditions of that style. However, Sri Lankans and Burmese have some significant differences. For example, to my ear, the "a" at the end of "sammasambuddhassa" comes out as (a short) "ah" from Thais, but more of an "err" from Sri Lankans (I'm not sure about Burmese). Of course, the nature of chanting together is that the participants need to listen and adapt to each others pronunciation and rhythm.

Again, that rhythm varies. Having become used to the rather bouncy Thai rhythms, I find that the style of recordings from the Western Ajan Chah monasteries tends to sound rather ponderous (in musical terminology, "square"). This appears to be a result of them mixing in some aspects of Gregorian chants, and the "swing" that the Thais' have also has something to do with the tonal emphasis implied by their script.

Anyway, I think that the best way to learn to chant Pali is to do it the old fashioned way, by chanting along with competent chanters (or recordings if none are available).

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby SarathW » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:38 am

rowboat wrote:It helps a lot to hear correct Pali pronunciation. I suggest registering for Pariyatti's Daily Words of the Buddha. Each day you receive a new email with a few verses in both Pali and English, accompanied by a link to an audio recording of a man reciting the Pali verse very beautifully and with perfect pronunciation.

For example, today's quatrain:

So karohi dīpamattano!
Khippaṃ vāyama paṇḍito bhava!
Niddhantamalo anaṅgaṇo,
na punaṃ jātijaraṃ upehisi.


Audio: http://host.pariyatti.org/dwob/dhammapada_18_238.mp3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Translation:
Make an island unto yourself!
Strive hard and become wise!
Rid of impurities and cleansed of stain,
you shall not come again to birth and decay.


I listen to this very often.
:thanks:

http://www.pariyatti.org/FreeResources/ ... fault.aspx

ElissaJ
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby ElissaJ » Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:18 pm

Thank you for your replies.

It would be handy for me as a new reader / learner. When I see a word I don't know, I look up the meaning and then want to know how to pronounce it without looking up the rules. (I'm not good at remembering rules, LOL!)

Elissa

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:24 am

ElissaJ wrote:I'm not good at remembering rules, LOL!


For lazy people the rules of Pali pronunciation can be cut down to 6.

Rule 1:
There are 8 vowels in Pali, which are pronounced with their continental values.

Rule 2:
There are 33 consonants in Pali:

ka kha ga gha ṅa
ca cha ja jha ña
ṭa ṭha ḍa ḍha ṇa
ta tha da dha na
pa pha ba bha ma
ya ra la va sa ha ḷa ṃ

Rule 3:

Since almost no English-speaking Buddhists bother to distinguish retroflex consonants from dentals, we can eliminate ṭa, ṭha, ḍa, ḍha, ṇa and ḷa.

Rule 4:

Since almost no English-speaking Buddhists bother to distinguish non-aspirates from apirates, we can eliminate the latter. So now we have only 19 consonants:

ka ga ṅa
ca ja ña
ta da na
pa ba ma
ya ra la va sa ha ṃ

Rule 5:

Of these 19, the consonants ka, ga, ja, ta, da, na, pa, ba, ma, ya, ra, la, va, sa, and ha have more or less the same sound that they do in English.

Rule 6:

We are now left with just 4 consonants whose pronunciation needs to be learned: ca (pronounce as as a voiceless palatal non-aspirate) and the three nasals: ṅa (alveolar), ña (palatal), and ṃ (nasalis simplex).

Pretty painless, eh?
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:23 am

Dhammanando wrote:Rule 6:

We are now left with just 4 consonants whose pronunciation needs to be learned: ca (pronounce as as a voiceless palatal non-aspirate) and the three nasals: ṅa (alveolar), ña (palatal), and ṃ (nasalis simplex).


Correction: that should be velar, not alveolar.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

frank k
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:16 pm

What's your purpose in learning pronunciation?

Some people may find it easy to learn pali pronunciation. I didn't. I found it no different from English in how accents, unexpected tonal inflections, not following pronunciation rules can make it hard to understand for the listener. Take a sutta I know by heart, anattalakkhana sutta. Even though I know each line as it's coming, if I hear heavy accented chanting from a Thai speaker, or a Burmese speaker, combined with not following pronunciation rules, I can be thrown off and miss some words, phrases and sentences that they're speaking. The same as my university days when an Indian professor for example is for the most part speaking with proper syntax and grammar, but his accent is enough to throw a road block in comprehension for some time until you learn his idiosyncracies.

The two biggest mistakes I usually hear are not observing the timing of long and short syllables. The second mistake, usually in conjunction with the first, is not pronouncing all the consonants when there are double consonants. Here are a couple of examples:

1. kāma
2. kamma

3. satta
4. sata

If you don't observe the rules of timing (long and short syllables), and don't pronounce all the consonants in multiple consonant sequences, there will be ambiguities and confused listeners.

audtip.org has an expanding collection of Pāli chanting from Ven. Jiv, a Sri Lankan bhikkhu with impeccable pronunciation.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings

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mikenz66
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:47 pm

Thanks for the excellent points Frank, and thank you for your tremendous efforts with audtip.org.

Regarding syllables, I think that the difficulty many English speakers have with Asian languages is actually figuring out where the syllables end. So, in your example of sata, the "t" can become attached to the first syllable, sat-a rather than sa-ta. As far as I can tell, unless there are two consonants in a row, a consonant always signals a new syllable.

However, I would have to say that accent is relative. I do find the Sri Lankan style to be very pleasant to listen to, with it's lilting, sung, feel. But since my background is mostly with Thai or Thai-trained Bhikkhus (and lay people) I do struggle to follow the pronunciation in places. It's all a matter of what one is used to, and one needs to be able to adapt to the local style...

:anjali:
Mike

frank k
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:19 pm

Hi Mike, yes accent is relative. Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan all have some lilting and singy-ness to their chanting depending on your lineage. I started off learning Pali pronunciation by listening to Thai monks. There's probably a thread somewhere on this forum from a few years back where I detailed the struggles from using world tipitaka website pali audio dictionary. The inconsistencies and anomalies of the thai pali pronunciation dictionary were driving me nuts, especially coming from a scientific background where I'm in the habit of expecting simple rules to be consistently followed. After I got my hands on some good Sri Lankan chanting where the simple pronunciation rules, especially long and short syllable timing, were consistently followed, it was a great relief to know I wasn't going insane and that the simple pali pronunciation rules are supposed to be followed and give consistent sounding results every time.

Listening the the Abhayagiri chants (they're an ajahn chah thai lineage), their timing (of long and short) is usually correct with the exception of syllables that have double consonants in them. I don't know if this is a feature of all thai chanting, but I'm guessing because they like to group chant continuously with no pause between sentences and phrases, the lack of a full stop on double consonant syllables (instead the pause from a full stop they elongate the last vowel preceding the double consonant) so that there is never a moment in the chanting without a sound. Whereas if the proper rules of long and short syllable timing are observed, you would have a pause of silence for the full stop on double consonant syllables. (and multiple consonant syllables as well, noting that letter "h" is usually an aspirate alphabet character and not an extra consonant)

In the case you mentioned, "sata", where it's not clear to a beginner whether it should be parsed as "sa-ta", or "sat-a", as long as you get the timing of the long and short syllables correct it doesn't matter, it will still be easy to comprehend for the listener. Both syllables in "sata" are short, so when you speak in a conversational speed it's a very subtle difference. Even if you group chant very slowly, and you parse it as "sat-a" instead of "sa-ta", relative to the other words in the sentence chanted at slow speed it is not so big of a difference, compared to the much greater error of getting the long and short syllable timing wrong, which makes them into completely different words. For example, if you parsed "sata" as "sat-a", and you extended the pause after the "sat", such that the timing of the first syllable "sat" is twice as long as the second syllable "a", then this is a timing error. You've said the word "satta" instead of "sata".

For those of you not sure what the long-short syllable concept is:
What I found helpful for myself to learn to pronounce the long and short syllable timings correctly is to tap my hand on the table like a metronome (or just in my mind play a "tick" "tick" metronome sound). One "tick" for each long syllable time that has elapsed.

Pick a simple word, like "Mangala". 3 syllables. "Man-ga-la".
1. the "ng" in mangala is a multiple consonant sequence here, which makes the syllable attached to the "n", i.e. "man", a LONG syllable even though the "a" in "man" is a short vowel.
2. so "man" is a long syllable, "ga" and "la" are each short syllables. One long syllable = the timing of two short syllables.
3. so if you tap your hand like a metronome, you should hear two "ticks" each time you pronounce the word "man-ga-la". One tick at the end of "man", one tick at the end of "ga-la".
4. So if you say the word "mangala" repeatedly, after a few minutes the concept of "short" syllable being exactly one half of a "long" syllable will be very clear.

If you use a more difficult word like "Bo-dhi-sat-ta" , which is long-short-long-short, the metronome method won't work. But at least you should hear a distinct syncopation from the alternating long-short sequence, especially if you say the word repeatedly, you can get the feel of it.

metta,
frank

mikenz66 wrote:Thanks for the excellent points Frank, and thank you for your tremendous efforts with audtip.org.

Regarding syllables, I think that the difficulty many English speakers have with Asian languages is actually figuring out where the syllables end. So, in your example of sata, the "t" can become attached to the first syllable, sat-a rather than sa-ta. As far as I can tell, unless there are two consonants in a row, a consonant always signals a new syllable.

However, I would have to say that accent is relative. I do find the Sri Lankan style to be very pleasant to listen to, with it's lilting, sung, feel. But since my background is mostly with Thai or Thai-trained Bhikkhus (and lay people) I do struggle to follow the pronunciation in places. It's all a matter of what one is used to, and one needs to be able to adapt to the local style...

:anjali:
Mike
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings

frank k
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:48 pm

One more comment in response to Mike's note on following local chanting conventions, that is, trying to adapt your own chanting to match the accents and timing of the group.

I think in principle, it's good to try not to chant in a way that will disturb the group chanting in the group you're with. So what I end up doing, if I'm chanting with people are not observing pronunciation rules, is to chant silently (in my mind) or in a quiet voice so as not to confuse and disturb my neighbors with the correct chanting sounds. Accents I can sort of try to adapt and chant along with, but grievous errors in long and short syllable timing completely throws you off. Nothing you can do about that. You are in for a world of hurt if you try to chant along with that.

But to try to chant wrong to harmonize with the group? That's hard to do, even if you sincerely want to. You end up confusing yourself, and confusing your neighbors.

My first taiji quan teacher, one of his characteristics that really cracked me up, was that when he tried to demonstrate to the class and imitate the "wrong" way to do a move, he couldn't do it in a proper "wrong" way. He had trained so diligently in moving the correct way, with the whole body, energy pervasively connected, even when he tried to demonstrate a "wrong" movement, what came out was a very poor imitation of 'wrong'. His fluid whole body movement was so deeply ingrained it was almost impossible for him to really do a disjointed, disconnected movement to properly imitate 'wrong'.

Another story I heard about, a famous taiji master would lead his large class of students everyday. Now this teacher had suffered a severe leg injury at some point. So his taiji form had some defects because his leg did not have full range of normal movement. The result? His whole class imitated his limp day after day in doing the form.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings

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mikenz66
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:51 pm

Hi Frank,
frank k wrote:One more comment in response to Mike's note on following local chanting conventions, that is, trying to adapt your own chanting to match the accents and timing of the group.

I think in principle, it's good to try not to chant in a way that will disturb the group chanting in the group you're with. So what I end up doing, if I'm chanting with people are not observing pronunciation rules, is to chant silently (in my mind) or in a quiet voice so as not to confuse and disturb my neighbors with the correct chanting sounds. Accents I can sort of try to adapt and chant along with, but grievous errors in long and short syllable timing completely throws you off. Nothing you can do about that. You are in for a world of hurt if you try to chant along with that.

It's interesting to see these different priorities. I came to Dhamma by turning up at the local Wat and participating in chanting, odd jobs, and eventually learning something about meditation and Dhamma. Due to that background, for me, active participation in group chanting is infinitely more important than purity.

I did pay quite a lot of attention to analysing timings and pronunciation at some points in the past, (particularly when I was leaning the Thai alphabet, and spent some time comparing the Thai and Roman transliterations). Generally I find our Abbot to be quite accurate. (When he's not there it's a bit less consistent.) I did also spend a year in Hong Kong, with a group overseen by a Malaysian monk who trained mostly in Thailand, and I don't recall any huge anomalies between them (whereas the Abhayagiri-style timing is noticeably different to me, and I have to adapt when with a group that uses that). Perhaps I'm lucky to have been with competent groups, or perhaps I'm just very tolerant.

:anjali:
Mike

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:11 pm

frank k wrote:Listening the the Abhayagiri chants (they're an ajahn chah thai lineage), their timing (of long and short) is usually correct with the exception of syllables that have double consonants in them. I don't know if this is a feature of all thai chanting, but I'm guessing because they like to group chant continuously with no pause between sentences and phrases, the lack of a full stop on double consonant syllables (instead the pause from a full stop they elongate the last vowel preceding the double consonant) so that there is never a moment in the chanting without a sound. Whereas if the proper rules of long and short syllable timing are observed, you would have a pause of silence for the full stop on double consonant syllables. (and multiple consonant syllables as well, noting that letter "h" is usually an aspirate alphabet character and not an extra consonant)


There are several styles of chanting in Thailand. In one of the more ornate ones, called saraphanya or sawraphanya (สรภัญญะ, Skt. sarabhañña) the syllabification of double consonants is not only done clearly, but is actually accentuated. There are certain chants which are always performed in this style, such as the Buddhamaṅgalagāthā (aka Phra orahan paed thid — The Arahants of the Eight Directions).

phpBB [video]




But any chant can be done in this style if one wants. In practice it's a style that's performed most often by (1) nuns, (2) schoolchildren, (3) on uposatha days in wats where the Pali is chanted with interlinear Thai translation, and (4) by monks at the "High Church" end of the Thai Buddhist spectrum, e.g. when chanting at ceremonies sponsored by the Bangkok royalty and aristocracy.

Schoolgirls paying homage to the Triple Gem, with interlinear Thai translation

phpBB [video]
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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mikenz66
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:48 pm

Hi Bhante,
Dhammanando wrote:There are several styles of chanting in Thailand. In one of the more ornate ones, called saraphanya or sawraphanya (สรภัญญะ, Skt. sarabhañña) the syllabification of double consonants is not only done clearly, but is actually accentuated. There are certain chants which are always performed in this style, such as the Buddhamaṅgalagāthā (aka Phra orahan paed thid — The Arahants of the Eight Directions).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JURGGAQWJTE

Thank you for that explanation and the beautiful recording. The monks at my Wat do that as part of their evening chanting sequence, and I'd always wondered about the "sung" style, which is more like some of the Sri Lankan chanting that I've heard. It's quite different from the way I've heard the local Thai Bhikkhus do almost any other chant, such as the Evening Chant, or suttas, which have intonation dictated by Thai tone rules, but are by no stretch of the imagination sung. Is the "singing" always part of that style?

I have a further question. I was aware that there were two styles used by Thai Bhikkhus (unfortunately I don't have references on hand - I recall it's in one of my chanting books), one with pauses after each line, which is how most constructed chants, such as the Evening Chant, are done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFOatFDVmd8, and the style without pauses, which is how suttas are commonly done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEr2eoWQk0E. Is this saraphanya/sawraphanya a third style? Is there a handy reference for these different styles?

These various styles can be highly confusing for amateurs like myself... :thinking:

:anjali:
Mike

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:37 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Is the "singing" always part of that style?


Most often it is, but it doesn't have to be. At a monastery in Lamphun where I used to live we would alternate doing the evening chanting in the Amphoe Li style (monotone, staccato and pretty fast) one day...


phpBB [video]



... and then saraphanya the next day. On the saraphanya days it would be similar to the chanting on your first link but with the double consonants separated in a much more accentuated way. I haven't been able to find an example on youtube.

mikenz66 wrote:Is this saraphanya/sawraphanya a third style?


A third. It's different to both your links.

mikenz66 wrote:Is there a handy reference for these different styles?

These various styles can be highly confusing for amateurs like myself... :thinking:


I don't know of one. It would probably make a good subject for a doctoral thesis in musicology, for the variety is enormous. Although the chanting in the cities is much the same from place to place, with most wats just aping the Bangkok style, once you're in the countryside virtually every amphoe has its own style. I used to know four when I lived in Lamphun, and here in Chiang Mai I'm told there are sixteen altogether.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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mikenz66
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Location: New Zealand

Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:58 pm

Thanks Bhante, that's all very interesting. Do you find it difficult to adapt to the different styles?

:anjali:
Mike

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Dhammanando
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:13 am

mikenz66 wrote:Thanks Bhante, that's all very interesting. Do you find it difficult to adapt to the different styles?


I didn’t find it any problem when I was in my twenties, but now that I’m almost fifty I expect I would have some difficulty in taking up a new style. Luckily I don’t need to. When I’m up on my mountain it happens that I’m the most senior monk within about a 12-mile radius, so at funerals, house-blessings, etc. I get to lead and all the other monks have to adapt to me.
:smile:
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,


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