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Triratna - language question (Pali)

johnathanjohnathan ICBICanada Veteran
edited March 13 in Buddhism Basics

So, when one says:

to the Buddha for refuge I go

In Pali, one would say:

Buddham saranam gacchami

So, if one wanted to say:

To the triple Gem for refuge I go

How would would one say that?

Triratnam saranam gacchami

Are there any Pali people here who can sort me out?

Comments

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 13

    Triratnaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

    EDIT: this one is too Sanskritized.

    johnathan
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Thanks @Vimalajāti

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 13

    There's actually a mistake. I forgot the cluster "tr" expands to "tir," and that "tn" expands out to "tan."

    Tiratanaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi

    johnathan
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran UK Veteran

    @Vimalajāti, am I right in thinking that the ṁ is pronounced like “ng”? So it sounds more like, “Buddhang saranang”?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @adamcrossley said:
    @Vimalajāti, am I right in thinking that the ṁ is pronounced like “ng”? So it sounds more like, “Buddhang saranang”?

    Correct

    Vimalajāti
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 15

    Before we begin, although I have a passion for linguistics, I have no special training in it. Consider these the words of a fellow amateur.

    @federica said:
    You mean I've been saying it wrong for 20 years?! That's it, my Buddhism has gone up in smoke!
    [...]
    Damn, I must still be catholic!

    Speaking of Catholics, this is a good segue.

    Pāli is a dead language. Pāli is a living language. Sanskrit is a dead language. Sanskrit is a living language. Latin is a dead language. Latin is a living language.

    There's a whole (tiny) country that uses Latin as their official language, and there used to be an entire denomination of Christianity making daily use of it before ~1965. There's an entire priesthood (several sets of priesthoods, actually) that still makes daily use of Sanskrit. Pāli chanting is still done by monks of the Theravāda tradition to this day. In Scarborough, here in Canada, you can take Pāli lessons at the Scarborough Mahāvihāra. Latin was offered at my high school as an elective. Dead, living, dead, living, etc. Latin is a lot like Pāli, it's just missing a small country using it as a state-sanctioned official language.

    If you know something about Latin, you know it comes in a few varieties: ecclesiastic, classical, and old. Similarly, with Sanskrit, we have classical and Vedic. With Pāli, we have less standardized names, but we might call them "how Pāli was pronounced" and "how Pāli is pronounced" for our purposes.

    Ecclesiastic Latin is generally understood to be Latin pronounced with more-or-less an Italian accent. It's how the Popes generally speak/spoke Latin, and how priests would have been trained to pronounce Latin before its liturgical use fell out of favour. It is still Latin, it is just pronounced differently. Back when the entire Roman Catholic world used Latin (and even further back when the entire Western Christian world used Latin), Latin was pronounced regionally according to local phonologies influenced by local languages.

    In my 3rd year of university studies, during the acquisition of my rather pointless ethnomusicology degree (I don't regret it), I was in a male vocal ensemble that participated in a performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The choral conductor was keen on us pronouncing the Latin in the Medieval German manner, as it might have been pronounced ~1200. So when we got to the lines:

    In taberna quando sumus,
    non curamus quid sit humus,
    sed ad ludum properamus,
    cui semper insudamus.

    "Quando sumus," became "Kvando zumus," the U being a V, certain S's being Z's. There were a few more (minor) phonological quirks to the Latin we used, as reconstructed by whoever our conductor consulted, but this one stuck out the most. Certain "C's" were also pronounced "ts," instead of "ch." Back in the day, there was a Polish way to pronounce Latin, a French way, an Italian way, a German way, and even a regional English way (!!!) to pronounce it, along with various prescriptivist standards for people to endlessly complain about. All these regional pronunciations were influenced by the languages these Christians used in their daily lives alongside this liturgical/sacred language.

    In addition to this, we have Classical Latin (and Old Latin that is so old we don't know much about it). You know Caesar? He's "see·zr" in Canadian English. He's "che·sar" in Ecclesiastic Latin (forgive my imprecise phonetics, I'll start using IPA shortly), and "kai·sar" in Classical Latin. Now the German loanword "Kaiser" makes a lot more sense, right? It's "Caesar" with a more classical pronunciation, essentially.

    Pāli is pronounced regionally in Southeast Asia much like Latin used to be in Europe. AFAIK, it was originally either a Burmese or Thai convention to pronounce "ṁ" and "ṇ" as "ng" in the sense of ŋ. I think the Sri Lankan convention of pronouncing it as "ŋ" also comes from the Thai, who re-established Buddhism in Sri Lanka after it had died out there in the early 1800s (hence why there is a "Siyam Nikaya" in Sri Lanka, from the word "Siam"). Past revivals of Buddhism in Sri Lanka after periods of decline were on the part of the Burmese rather than the Thai, AFAIK.

    Some romanization schemata from Sri Lanka actually render ṁ and ṇ as the character "ŋ," from IPA.

    @adamcrossley said:
    @Vimalajāti, am I right in thinking that the ṁ is pronounced like “ng”? So it sounds more like, “Buddhang saranang”?

    It is a minor point of controversy in Sanskrit (and therefore by extension Pāli) linguistics, namely the manner in which the anusvāra (ṁ, ṇ) is meant to be pronounced generally and when it acts as a syllable coda (i.e. ends a syllable).

    Common practice in Theravāda-influenced contexts is to pronounce it "ŋ," like in the material @Bunks posted, which seems like it might be from a Thai-produced textbook. You could try to be "proper" and pronounce it like a Prākrit from ~200BC-200AD, a sibling/descendant of the dialect clusters that gave rise to Vedic Sanskrit, but that begs the question as to why you would want to stand out necessarily.

    In my experience, if everyone in the room says "buddhaŋ saraṇaŋ," and you are there going "buddhã saraṇã [...]," (nasalizing the previous vowel, with no "m," "n," or "ŋ" sound, which we will discuss later) people are more likely to think you are just wrong than thinking you are a phonological pedant who looked up the "right" way to do it.

    Generally speaking:
    If ṁ comes before a velar consonant (k, g), it is ŋ, like in "sāṁkhyaṁ" (sə͂ːŋkʰjə͂ː).
    If ṁ comes before a palatal consonant (c, j), it is ñ, like in "saṁjñaḥ" (sə͂ñdʑñəh).
    If ṁ comes before a dental consonant (t, d), it is n, like in "cittasaṁtatiḥ" (tɕɪtːəsəntətih).
    If ṁ comes before a labial consonant (p, b), it is m, like in "saṁbuddhaḥ" (səmbʊdʰːəh).
    If ṁ comes before a spirant, it is n like above with dentals (saṁskṛtam -- sənskɹtəm)

    "Proper" Pāli, depending on how pedantic you want to be, will loosely observe these anusvāra rules to a certain extent. Do remember though, that complicatedly, Pāli did not descend from "proper" Classical or Vedic Sanskrit, but rather descends from languages in the same "dialect cluster" as Vedic Sanskrit, which then became regional Prākrits.

    A huge controversy is when the anusvāra comes at the end of a syllable, and academics are split 3 ways on how this would have been realized. I'll use "a" as the vowel for these examples:

    1) ãm, 2) ãŋ, and 3) ãː.

    In 1, the vowel is nasalized and a "m" sound follows. In 2, the vowel is nasalized and a "ŋ" sound follows. In 3, the vowel is nasalized and lengthened and there is no "m" sound left.

    For various reasons, I fall on the side of supposing that the ṁ at the end of words generally was a lengthening and nasalization of the previous vowel (without an "M" sound) in some or most regional Sanskrit pronunciations and likely in Pāli.

    We see from Sanskrit to Pāli:

    cittam (Sanskrit) --> cittaṁ (Pāli)

    The full-on Sanskritic "M" becomes a Pāli nasalization, which is a very common sound-change in languages, more common than "M" becoming "Ŋ" (i.e. ŋ/"ng") in this case, according to my unlearned instincts and a handful of papers I skimmed in writing this.

    But that is just my opinion, and as I said before I am not an expert. I wouldn't even call myself a Sanskrit expert, let alone Pāli.

    Common practice is to realize ṁ and ṇ as ŋ, and you will stick out and maybe seem unlearned if you don't, since Pāli nowadays is pronounced regionally, like Latin once was.

    johnathan
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 15

    I am going to do some self study and try to learn Pali. I was never able to learn French, our Countries 2nd official language. If I had it would have been a waste of time, for me anyways, as except for a couple of days traveling through the province of Quebec I have never needed to know french. There was never any real motivation to apply myself... I have some motivation to learn Pali if for only simple personal interest.

    I found this Pali guide as a place to start.

    https://www.academia.edu/34915776

    And a Pali-English dictionary

    https://www.academia.edu/22684231

    Found this too

    http://www.chantpali.org/refuges_precepts.html#tisarana

    And these

    https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Textual-Studies/Grammar/The-Pronunciation-of-Pali.htm

    https://www.bps.lk/pali_misc/palipron.html

    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/pali.html

    https://www.nku.edu/~kenneyr/Buddhism/pali/index.html

    I also found an online course to learn pali

    https://bodhimonastery.org/a-course-in-the-pali-language.html

    Bunks
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 15

    In looking up pali I have seen it said that Pali is more useful to a Therevadin where as Sanskrit more so for a Mahayanist. I have seen it said too that Pali is easier to learn than Sanskrit. And that once Pali is learned that it is easier to learn Sanskrit.

    I am a Ch'an Buddist which is Mahayanist.

    @Vimalajāti or anyone else who has linguistic knowledge of the 2 languages and the fact that learning another language is not easy for me let alone 2. Would it be better for me to focus on Sanskrit solely or go the long route of learning Pali first then Sanskrit. Is Sanskrit that much harder then Pali that the direct route would be the harder route?

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 15

    A couple mistakes made their way into my post anyways. When you put a bunch of IAST and IPA into your post, then it's wrong at that, it's double bad (not that people notice necessarily).

    @Vimalajāti said:
    Generally speaking:
    If ṁ comes before a velar consonant (k, g), it is ŋ, like in "sāṁkhyaṁ" (sə͂ːŋkʰjə͂ː).

    I didn't observe the change in pronunciation for the lengthened vowel (i.e. sãːŋkʰjə͂ː). Generally speaking, ṁ has a lengthening of the schwas (i.e. ə͂ --> ə͂ː) that I also neglected in a lot of the IPA. Oh well.

    @johnathan said:
    In looking up pali I have seen it said that Pali is more useful to a Therevadin where as Sanskrit more so for a Mahayanist. I have seen it said too that Pali is easier to learn than Sanskrit. And that once Pali is learned that it is easier to learn Sanskrit.

    I am a Ch'an Buddist which is Mahayanist.

    @Vimalajāti or anyone else who has linguistic knowledge of the 2 languages and the fact that learning another language is not easy for me let alone 2. Would it be better for me to focus on Sanskrit solely or go the long route of learning Pali first then Sanskrit. Is Sanskrit that much harder then Pali that the direct route would be the harder route?

    If you want to pick up a dharma language, I would say Chinese or Tibetan is much more useful to you than Sanskrit. Buddhist Sanskrit scriptures are often only fragmentally extant. Oftentimes, we only have the full versions of otherwise-Sanskritic scriptures preserved in Chinese translations, like the translations of the Āgama scriptures of the Sarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka, and Mahāsāṁghika sects in the Taishō Canon.

    If it's Pāli or Sanskrit, I would personally learn Sanskrit, because you can read Pāli understanding Sanskrit, but not necessarily the other way around. Pāli also makes a bit more sense when you know the Sanskrit subsurface structure of the language. For instance, ajjhataṁ is Pāli for "inner." It is a curious word. When we know that the Sanskrit is adhyātmam and we can parse this into adhi + ātmam, we can see that it means "inner" by way of "concerning (adhi) the self (ātma)." That is just one example.

    When you know the underlying Sanskrit structure, Pāli's sometimes drastic phonetic reductions and simplifications are a little bit demystified.

    saṇkhāra --> saṇkhata
    conditioning --> conditioned

    nibbāna --> nibbuta
    extinguishment --> extinguished

    The pattern is irregular in Pāli. Now compare:

    saṁskāra --> saṁskṛta
    nirvāṇa --> nirvṛta

    The pattern is regular in Sanskrit. When we go from Sanskrit to Pāli, we see that "rvṛ" is an unacceptable consonant cluster for the Pāli accent, so it gets reduced to "bbu," breaking the pattern.

    That being said, there aren't very many resources specializing in Buddhist Sanskrit. Most are to do with the Vedas and Hindu scriptures. Pāli is more directly relevant to trying to read Buddhist scriptures, but Sanskrit (IMO) helps you understand Pāli so much more intuitively.

    I would go with Chinese though, rather than either, especially if you want to explore the wealth of untranslated Chán literature.

    johnathan
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The Rosetta Stone was never like this....

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @Vimalajāti any idea what dialect of chinese would be most beneficial for reading ch'an texts? Mandarin? Cantonese? Other?

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 15

    Classical/Literary, with modern Mandarin or Cantonese. I've never looked at modern Chinese Chán literature, tbh, but I know via experience there's wealth of it that's never seen English.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited March 15

    @Vimalajāti

    Is it better to learn pinyin first, then mandarin then characters

    Or learn the characters at the same time as pinyin then learn mandarin?

    Or skip the pinyin and go straight to Mandarin?

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited March 15

    You don't have to learn to speak it unless you want to be able to communicate with Chinese Buddhists who don't speak English. Traditional characters is the way to go for Buddhist texts. Pinyin is only useful for pronouncing, not reading, in my experience.

    johnathan
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    You may find this of interest...

    johnathan
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