understanding pali alphabet

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cfekete
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understanding pali alphabet

Post by cfekete »

Please could you help me to understand how the pali alphabet was formulated in the English world?
Kaccayana said that the alphabet is:
a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o, k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, c, ch, j, jh, ñ,
ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, t, th, d, dh, n, p, ph, b, bh, m,
y, r, l, v, s, h, ḷ, ṃ

but the Pali - English dictionaries use a different order. 
a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o, ṃ, k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, c, ch, j, jh, ñ,
ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, t, th, d, dh, n, p, ph, b, bh, m,
y, r, l, ḷ, v, s, h

Do you know why we are using a different order of the letters and not as they were stated by Kaccayana? Why did we change the order of the letters, compared to that one described in the Kaccayana grammar book?
BKh
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Re: understanding pali alphabet

Post by BKh »

I have been told that the traditional Sanskrit order is slightly different from the traditional Pali order. Back when the Pali English Dictionary was written (probably the dictionary you refer to; it would be helpful if you could be specific) most scholars had started with a background in Sanskrit and so they used that order not realizing that there was an alternative. I believe the Concise Pali English Dictionary by Ven AP Buddhadatta follows closer to that of the Pali grammars.

I believe you are pointing out the different placement of ṁ and ḷ. I know that Sanskrit places it different from Pali. And the letter ḷ does not exist in Sanskrit, so it may have made sense for them at the time to put it after l.

I'm not 100% sure of all this, but perhaps someone else can confirm.
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Kim OHara
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Re: understanding pali alphabet

Post by Kim OHara »

Our own alphabet is taught is a random but fixed order - we always go a b c d e etc but there is no logic to putting a next to b or d next to e.
Both the versions of the Pali alphabet you posted are in logical groups - vowels, and then groups of similar consonants (palatals, dentals, fricatives, ...).
If you read the appendices to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings that's what he does with Elvish - which is why I recognised the pattern. He was a linguist and philologist in real life.

:coffee:
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Coëmgenu
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Re: understanding pali alphabet

Post by Coëmgenu »

Kim OHara wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:41 pm Our own alphabet is taught is a random but fixed order - we always go a b c d e etc but there is no logic to putting a next to b or d next to e.
Both the versions of the Pali alphabet you posted are in logical groups - vowels, and then groups of similar consonants (palatals, dentals, fricatives, ...).
If you read the appendices to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings that's what he does with Elvish - which is why I recognised the pattern. He was a linguist and philologist in real life.

:coffee:
Kim
There is "sort of" a logic in putting A, then B, etc. This is the ordering of the old Semitic Abjad, also the Greek alphabet and a few others. The reason the order becomes fixed is because these cultures at once point or another generally assigned to the letters increasing numerical values. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabetic_numeral_system

If English did this, A would be "1," and B would be "2," etc. 27 might be written as "BJG," meaning "2-10-7."
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cfekete
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Re: understanding pali alphabet

Post by cfekete »

Both the versions of the Pali alphabet you posted are in logical groups
Yes I learned the logic of how the alphabet is recited from the Kaccayana grammar. And as I learned the alphabet itself follows a kind of grouping. First the vowels than the grouped letters (5*5 based on the place of the artucalation) and the non-grouped letters next and finally the niggahita.

And my question was specifically about the differences why we changed the place of the niggahita and the l.

Regarding which dictionaries? I see this order in the Margaret Cone "A dictionary of pali", T. W. RHYS DAVIDS and WILLIAM STEDE "Pali-English Dictionary". I see a totally different approach in the Childers' "A Dictionary of The Pali Language", as I see he followed the English alphabet.

So I was specifically wondering why, if we decided to follow the kind of alphabet which was stated by the ancient grammarians like Kaccayana than why we decide to twist it a little bit and why didn't we follow it as it is written originally by Kaccayana.
I have been told that the traditional Sanskrit order is slightly different from the traditional Pali order.
I was wandering also, that maybe it is a false assumption from me, that e.g. the Kaccayana alphabet was followed and slightly changed. And instead a different alphabet was followed in which this is the correct order.
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