Pali pronunciation

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Re: Proper Pronunciation

Postby Tranquility Base » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:43 pm

Thank you Mike, for your quick response, as well as Chris's instanteneous help :) What a friendly, accepting forum I am finding this to be.
I initially joined just to start with that question. me being me, I jumped in head first and did not read through the other categories and listings here. Everything I need I can find right here on this site, along with Chris's audio link, which I will use to
perfect my speech.
I so appreciate the help I've found here, and am reading through posts at least an hour a day now, plus listening at audi link Chris left me. I also love the weekly lessons section of the 'DhammWheel' :bow:
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:10 pm

Are there a definite clear set of rules on which syllables get accented? For example, if you play the audio file for "Yāvajīvaṃ" on http://www.aimwell.org/Help/Pali/pali.html , I would have expected the accent to fall on the long " ī " in "jīvaṃ" rather than on the "ṃ".
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:13 pm

How do pronounce the letter "v" in pāli? According to the pāli primer and some of the guides in this thread, the "v" would sound like the english v as in "vine". However, Pa Auk (Burmese) pronounce every "v" with a "w" sound instead of a "v" sound. In the Thai forest chants I listen to, often the "v" also makes a "w" sound, especially when it's not at the start of a word.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Kenshou » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:30 pm

I believe that technically the Pali "v" is this sound: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labiodental_approximant (listen to the sound file)

A lot of the languages of India use this sound, it's like a "v" as we know it in English but with looser friction between the teeth and lower lip. Sounds somewhere between a "v" and "w" as we know them. Either one would be an okay approximation, probably, but in the English speaking world "v" seems to be the choice.

However some languages, such as Thai and Burmese, lack a sound like the English "v". For them, the closest sound to the Pali one is a "w", so that's what they use.
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:57 pm

Thanks Kenshou. That clears it up. Are there any other things a Pali learner should watch out for, when listening to Thai forest monks chant? One thing I wonder about is how the letter "a" is pronounced. According to all the rules I've seen, the "a' should sound like the "u" in "cut". On the thai forest chants, it sounds closer to how they pronounce "ā". On ATI, they explain the rule for long and short vowels like this:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #pronounce
Vowels

Pāli has two sorts of vowels, long — ā, e, ī, o, ū, & ay; and short — a, i, & u. Unlike long and shorts vowels in English, the length here refers to the actual amount of time used to pronounce the vowel, and not to its quality. Thus ā & a are both pronounced like the a in father, simply that the sound ā is held for approximately twice as long as the sound a. The same principle holds for ī & i, and for ū & u. Thus, when chanting Pāli, the vowels are pronounced as follows:
----------------------------------
I'm not clear whether it only applies to chanting, or to normal recitation of pāli as well.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Kenshou » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:11 pm

I believe the a/ā pair is the one exception, where they differ in more than just length. However I believe the "short a" which would be similar to what is commonly called a "schwa" sound by Anglophones, is absent in Thai.

The biggest other difference I can recall is that Thai lacks a series of voiced aspirated consonants that Pali has (bh dh jh gh) and Thai tends to substitute their unvoiced aspirated consonants for these. (ph th ch kh) And it also lacks Pali's retroflex consonants (t, th, d, dh pronounced further back in the mouth), which Thai would just substitute with the non-retroflex counterparts.

There are probably some other little things too, I haven't listened to much Thai Pali chanting for awhile. Though after looking a little more closely at Thai phonology it appears that Thai lacks a /g/ sound, that might be reflected in the chanting too.
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby frank k » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:53 am

Thanks for the explanation Kenshou. I had been using the audio dictionary from worldtipitaka (I believe the voice used is a thai forest monk), but am looking for a better alternative since many words pronounced some of the consonants inconsistently. So beyond just phonetic things that might not be in the native thai tongue, the inconsistency of for example, "bojjhanga" pronounced in all the compound words in forms in their dictionary really left me confused. http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/audio_ ... m%C4%81sam

I would really love to get some expert pali speakers to recite the pali dictionary, send it to google translate so they can add it (they added latin recently) and be able to have pali suttas read to me in correct pronunciation like a GPS giving directions! That would be cool, I could see it happenning within the next 10 years.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Proper Pronunciation

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:36 pm

Hi Nichole,

You also may find useful:

Pali Romanized Alphabet and Pronunciation
http://dhamma.ru/sadhu/directory?sobi2T ... sobi2Id=86

Pāli Pronunciation
http://dhamma.ru/sadhu/directory?sobi2T ... obi2Id=684

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: Proper Pronunciation

Postby frank k » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:43 pm

Dmytro,
I like what you did with the alphabet table linking to pronunciation sound files. It would be nice to get higher quality audio samples. Many of the audio pali samples available on the web seem to have been made before broadband internet and cheap massive storage was common. I just ordered a nice USB microphone, one of these days I'd like to visit a temple with an expert Pali speaking monk and record him pronouncing the alphabet and a subset if not the entire pali dictionary (probably less than an hour to do). If a few other Buddhists around the world did this (visit their local pali expert monk/nun with a laptop and decent usb microphone), we could put together a nice library of pali speaking experts giving future pali students a reliable sound source to learn from.
I've known about the Bhikkhu Bodhi recorded lectures http://bodhimonastery.net/bm/programs/p ... nline.html , but I just recently discovered that those set of MP3's contain “recital readings” as separate files, in which B.Bodhi recites pali sentences (which are all sutta excerpts) from the Gair/Karunatillake text book slowly, clearly. This is an invaluable resource for pali students trying to hear and distinguish what can be very subtle differences between pali letters.

we should fold this thread with the sticky board "pali pronunciation" thread.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:48 pm

Good idea, this is done.
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how do you pronounce "aniccā"?

Postby frank k » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:53 pm

Specifically, how is the "i" in "aniccā" supposed to sound? This audio dictionary sounds like the way I usually hear people say it,
http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/audio_ ... ter0=anicc

But according to the pali grammar texts, the short "i" should sound like the "i" in "pin". The typical pronunciation sound like the long ī to me.
http://www.audtip.org Audio Sutta Recordings
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby tlichy » Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:35 pm

After listening some audio samples from links posted -- thank you very much for posting this stuff -- on this thread, I gather that pronunciation of 'a' differs depending on it's place within a word. E.g. in pañha the first occurence of 'a' seems to be pronunced like 'u' in "but" and the second occurence at the end of pañha it sounds more like 'a' in "another". Is this really so or do I just hear it plain wrong?

The audio samples I'm referring to are at http://www.aimwell.org/Help/Pali/pali.html which has been posted on this thread previously.
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:09 pm

tlichy wrote:After listening some audio samples from links posted -- thank you very much for posting this stuff -- on this thread, I gather that pronunciation of 'a' differs depending on it's place within a word. E.g. in pañha the first occurence of 'a' seems to be pronunced like 'u' in "but" and the second occurence at the end of pañha it sounds more like 'a' in "another". Is this really so or do I just hear it plain wrong?

The audio samples I'm referring to are at http://www.aimwell.org/Help/Pali/pali.html which has been posted on this thread previously.


No, it is pronounced 'a' as in can.

there are several pronounciation guides around, I have one here
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby daverupa » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:07 pm

A Guide to the Pronunciation of Pāḷi by Ānandajoti Bhikkhu. This was in the OP, but the original layout offers helpful formatting.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Pali pronunciation

Postby arijitmitter » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:35 am

I have written a post [ created an audio file and shared it ] on Pali Pronunciation. Actually it is an audio guide about how to pronounce Pali alphabets. Please find it here,

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=17785

Note : I uploaded the first file on July 1. On July 2, I have uploaded a completely rerecorded file which avoids some complexities which occurred in the first one.
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