pulga wrote:Pali does seem to be quite close to the Jain Prakrit of the Acaranga Sutta. Do the Jains believe that Mahavira, the Buddha's contemporary, spoke Magadhi as well?
Yes, they call it Arsha or Ardha-Magadhi.
The first extant inscription in a language very similar to Pali has been made by a Jain:
http://books.google.com.ua/books?id=QYx ... 9&lpg=PA19
http://orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/Journal ... f/9-10.pdf
http://gujaratisbs.webs.com/Abstracts%2 ... 20More.pdf
A known scholar of Pali, Wilhelm Geiger wrote in the introduction to his book
"Pali Literature and Language":
"A consensus of opinion regarding the home of the dialect on which Pali is based has therefore not been achieved. Windish therefore falls back on the old tradition - and I am also inclined to do the same - according to which Pali should be regarded as a form of Magadhi, the language in which Buddha himself had preached. This language of Buddha was however surely no purely popular dialect, but a language of the higher and cultured classes which had been brought into being already in pre-Buddhistic times through the needs of intercommunication in India. Such a lingua franca naturally contained elements of all dialects, but was surely free from the most obtrusive dialectical characteristics. It was surely not altogether homogeneous. A man from Magadha country must have spoken it in one way, and a man from the districts of Kosala and Avanti in another, just as in Germany the high German of a cultured person from Wurttemberg, Saxony or Hamburg shows in each case peculiar characteristic features. Now, as Buddha, although he was no Magadhan himself, displayed his activities mainly in Magadha and the neighbouring countries, the Magadhi dialect might have imprinted on his language its own characteristic stamp. This language could have therefore been called Magadhi even if it avoided the grossest dialectical peculiarities of this language. As Windish has rightly pointed out, after the death of the master, a new artificial language must have been evolved out of the language of the Buddha. Attempts were made to retain the teachings of the Buddha in authentic form, and to impose this form also upon those portions which, although derived from the monastic from the monastic organizations in various provinces, were gradually incorporated in the canon. In connection with the designation of the canonical language as Magadhi, Windish also refers to Aar.sa, the language of the Jaina-suttas. It is called Ardha-Magadhi, i.e. "half-Magadhi". Now it is surely significant that the Ardha-Magadhi differs from Magadhi proper on similar points as Pali. For Ardha-Magadhi too does not change the r into l, and in the noun inflexion it shows the ending -o instead of Magadhic -e at least in many metrical pieces. On the other hand, as I believe to have myself observed, there are many remarkable analogies precisely between Aar.sa and Pali in vocabulary and morphology. Pali therefore might be regarded as a kind of Ardha-Magadhi. I am unable to endorse the view, which has apparently gained much currency at present, that the Pali canon is translated from some other dialect (according to Luders, from old Ardha-Magadhi). The peculiarities of its language may be fully explained on the hypothesis of (a) a gradual development and integration of various elements from different parts of India, (b) a long oral tradition extending over several centuries, and (c) the fact that the texts were written down in a different country.
I consider it wiser not to hastily reject the tradition altogether but rather to understand it to mean that Pali was indeed no pure Magadhi, but was yet a form of the popular speech which was based on Magadhi and which was used bu Buddha himself. it would appear therefore that the Pali canon represents an effort to reflect the Buddhavacanam in its original form. This theory would have been refuted if it could be proved that the Pali canon must have been translated from some other dialect. Sylvain Levi has tried to prove this. He points out a number of termini such as ekodi, sa.mghaadisesa, etc., in which a sonant appears in the place of a surd. From these data he infers the existence of a pre-canonical language in which the softening of intervocalic surds was the rule. I do not consider Levi's arguments to be convincing. Firstly, because all these etymologies given by Levi are uncertain. Secondly, because the softening of the surds takes place not only in the "termini" but also in a large number of other words. Moreover, in my opinion, no special case should be made out of this phonological phenomenon. For they merely represent one of the various dialectical peculiarities which are also met with in Pali. Thus, for instance, we find equally frequent cases of the opposite process (hardening of a sonant) as well as various other features which considered together prove the mixed character of tha Pali language.
If Pali is the form of Magadhi used by the Buddha, then the Pali canon would have to be regarded as the most authentic form of the Buddhavacanam, even though the teachings of the master might have been preached and learnt from the very beginning in the various provinces of India in the respective local dialects. The conclusion has been drawn -- wrongly, in my opinion, -- from Culavagga V.33.1 = Vin II.139. Here it is related, how two Bhikkhus complained to the master that the members of the order were of various origins, and that they distorted the words of Buddha by their own dialect (sakaaya niruttiyaa). They therefore proposed that the words of Buddha should be translated into Sanskrit verses (chandaso). Buddha however refused to grant the request and added: anujaanaami bhikkhave sakaaya niruttiyaa buddhavacanam pariyaapu.nitum. Rhys-Davids and Oldenberg translate this passage by 'I allow you, oh brethren, to learn the words of the Buddha each in his own dialect.' This interpretation however is not in harmony with that of Buddhaghosa, according to whom it has to be translated by "I ordain the words of Buddha to be learnt in _his_ own language (i.e.Magadhi, the language used by Buddha himself)." After repeated examination of this passage I have come to the conclusion that we have to stick to the explanation given by Buddhaghosa. Neither the two monks or the Buddha himself could have thought of preaching in different cases in different dialects. Here the question is merely whether the words of Buddha migth be translated into Sanskrit or not. This is however clearly forbidden by the Master, at first negatively and then positively by the injunction beginning with 'anujaanaami'. The real meaning of this injunction is, as is also best in consonance with Indian spirit, that there can be no other form of the words of Buddha than in which the Master himself had preached. Thus even in the life-time of Buddha people were concerned about the way in which the teaching might be handed down as accurately as possible, both in form and in content. How much more must have been the anxiety of the disciples after his death! The external form was however Magadhi, thought according to tradition it is Pali."
Professor Rhys Davids in the introduction to his Pali-English Dictionary says:
"the Pali of the canonical books is based on that standard Kosala vernacular as spoken in the 6th and 7th century BC..... That vernacular was the mother tongue of the Buddha".
Even K.R. Norman admits that:
"is is not impossible that there existed in India in the third century B.C. an unattested dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan that had all the features of Pali"
http://books.google.com.ua/books?id=XdC ... A5&lpg=PA5
Research by Dr Meena Talim shows that the language of Asokan edicts was very close to Pali:
http://www.exoticindia.ru.com/book/deta ... on-IHF006/
The prose parts of the Suttas are somewhat stylised for the ease of oral transmission, but the verses, for example, of Sutta-Nipata preserve the original live language, with its sometimes irregular forms.