Pali Terms - How To Explore

Explore the ancient language of the Tipitaka and Theravāda commentaries

Moderator: Mahavihara moderator

Pali Terms - How To Explore

Postby Dmytro » Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:27 am

(a quick guide to simple methods of exploring the meaning of Pali terms, recovered from E-Sangha forum)

Hello Pali friends,

Articles or books which describe the Pali term give only partial coverage, coloured by the viewpoint of the author. The natural solution is to analyze the primary Pali texts themselves. This thread is intended for helpful hints on how to do this.

1. Finding glosses (passages with definitions)

To find glosses it is highly advisable to use the VRI Chattha Sangayana available at
http://www.tipitaka.org/cst/about/ . This program has an excellent option of finding the given word in the context of another given word nearby. Besides, you can place an asterick as substitute for any possible letters.

a. 'katam*' method

For example, you are looking for the definition of the term 'vitakka' in the early texts.

You enter 'vitakk*' as one search word, and 'katam*' as second, with not too large distance between them (about 5 words).

In the results look especially for cases when the two words agree in case.

Soon you find a definition in Vibhanga:

Tattha katamo vitakko? Yo takko vitakko sa"nkappo appanaa byappanaa cetaso abhiniropanaa sammaasa"nkappo– aya.m vuccati “vitakko”.

b. 'vuccat' method

Similarly, look for example, for "bodh* vuccat*" and you will find in Niddesa:

Bodhi vuccati catūsu maggesu ñāṇaṃ

с. 'ti' method

This approach is used for finding definitions in commentaries.

For example, you are looking for the definition of the term 'paatubhuuta' in commentaries.

You enter 'paatubhuut*' as a search word, and look for the forms ending with -ti in the results. Atthakatha is preferable to Tika as more early and reliable.

Eventually you find:

Paatubhuutaati nibbattaa.

(Jataka-Atthakatha 1.139)

2. Finding related words

Sometimes there's no clear and reliable definition, so the Pali terms explorer needs to be more inventive.

a. verbs, nouns, adjectives and participles

For each term there's usually a host of related forms, which give helpful clues.

For example, for noun 'mano' there's a verb 'ma~n~nati', and a lot of compounds which can be examined as well.

b. finding synonyms

For example, you are looking for synonyms of 'ceteti' in suttas.

You enter the search word 'cetet*', selecting only 'Suttapitaka' as a search area.

When CSCD offers the search results, look for the word forms in the left box which happen in the early texts (shown in the right box).

Having selected such a form, click on 'Occurence' and choose 'selected word in all the books', with about 3 words before and after.

Soon you find that 'ceteti' is often mentioned along with 'abhisa"nkharoti', 'kappeti', 'pakappeti', 'anuseti'.

Thus you gain a deeper comprehension of the term on the basis of primary Pali sources.

With Metta,

Dmytro
Last edited by Dmytro on Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Dmytro
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Pali Terms - How To Explore

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:23 pm

Hi Dmytro

This is a great service to our pali readers and those members learning pali now and in the future!
Thank you for your great and kind work.
metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15960
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Pali Terms - How To Explore

Postby Dmytro » Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:46 pm

Thank you, Ben!)

The next installment:

Sanskrit dictionaries can be of great help in clarifying the meaning of Pali terms, since these two languages are quite similar.

If the correspondences are not given in the dictionary, one can use the following table to find them:

http://dhamma.ru/paali/palisan.htm

Sometimes there are several Sanskrit words corresponding to a Pali one.

For example, Pali 'dosa' has two meanings, one of which corresponds to Sanskrit 'do.sa', and another one to 'dve.sa'.

Articles in Monier-Williams dictionary

http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/
http://members.chello.nl/l.bontes/sans_n.htm

include the reference to the texts in which different meanings are used, for example, 'Vedic', 'Epic' or 'Classical'.

http://www.ibiblio.org/sripedia/ebooks/ ... _0032.html

This helps to discriminate early meanings, which are relevant to Pali, from later meanings which are often irrelevant.

Metta, Dmytro
User avatar
Dmytro
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Pali Terms - How To Explore

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:47 pm

Can I add my thanks Dmytro .

:anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Pali Terms - How To Explore

Postby Dmytro » Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:50 pm

Thank you, Sanghamitta :anjali:

And the third installment is the work of Alan McClure, recovered from his page at E-Sangha.

Compound Algorithm:

It can sometimes be difficult to know which type of compound we are dealing with. Here is an algorithm that can help you to figure out the compound type. When you think that you have found the correct compound, consult the above compound guide to double check:

1. If the compound is composed only of numbers as members and the first number is larger than the second then it is a dvanda; if the second number is larger then it is a digu.

2. If the compound starts with a number and is followed by a non-numeral, there are two possibilities. If the two members would be in the same case if they were to be separated, then the compound is a digu; if the two members would be in different cases, then it is a tappurisa.

3. If the compound starts with an indeclinable that qualifies a following noun in the compound, and the whole compound is acting as an adverb, the compound is an avyayiibhaava.

4. For all other compounds, try to determine the case of the last member as well as what the case of the first member would have been, had it not been compounded with the last.

· If the cases would certainly differ, see 5 below

· If the cases would certainly be the same, see 6 below

· If it is impossible to tell for sure, see 7 below

5. If the cases certainly differ, then it is a tappurisa compound.

6. If the cases would certainly be the same, then it is a kammadhaaraya or a dvanda. A dvanda will have two or more words that don’t qualify each other but are simply being added together as with the word “and” between them. In a kammadhaaraya, however, the first member of the compound will help to qualify the final member.

7. If it is impossible to tell the cases of the parts of the compound, then it may be a tappurisa or kammadhaaraya compound and context and doctrinal familiarity should be your guide to figuring out the solution. Not all compounds are easily analyzed.

8. If you have a compound that fits the “type” of one of the above compounds but the last member is a noun, or is used as a noun, i.e. is a substantive, but yet this last member is agreeing (case, gender, number) with an external noun as would an adjective, regardless of its normal gender, then you are dealing with a bahubbiihi compound. Such a compound will have an exocentric focus and be "possessed" by an external noun rather than having a relationship to it via simple apposition.

9. If you have a compound that fits the “type” of one of the above compounds but the last member is not a noun, there may still be a chance that it is a bahubbiihi compound if this last member is agreeing (case, gender, number) with an external noun. In this case, however, despite the exocentric nature of the compound, one will not be able to say that the external referent possesses this compound, but it must be related via a relative clause.


My compounds diagram is attached.
compounds.jpg
compounds.jpg (76.01 KiB) Viewed 1195 times


Metta, Dmytro
User avatar
Dmytro
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine


Return to Pali

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Unrul3r and 12 guests