The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Kare » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:17 pm

danieLion wrote:Kare,
Please don't give up. I'm trying to learn from you.



Thank you. I am honored. :bow:

But trying to learn from me or from other postings on a forum is not the best way of learning. The bits of information one can collect that way will of necessity be rather fragmented and unconnected, so it will be very difficult to get an understanding of the fundamental structures of the language. A structured course under a good teacher would be the best way. If that is not possible, get a good tutor (book) and work your way patiently and methodically through it. In my opinion Warder, Introduction to Pali is the best. Other books can be helpful as a supplement to Warder (it may sometimes be useful to see how others treat some tricky point), but Warder should be the basis.

BTW, I see that Warder explains nominal sentences at page 9.
Last edited by Kare on Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Kare » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:34 pm

Sylvester wrote:
BTW, does zero copula feature in Scandivanian languages?



No. The Scandinavian languages have a grammar very similar to English (recently some linguists have put forward the theory that English is so strongly influence by the language of the Vikings that it ought to classified as a Scandinavian language as well - but that is another story). It can be found in Russian, however, and in classical Greek and Latin.

If there is one drawback I see, not in Pali, but in the European scholarship on Pali, is that the diverse linguistic backgrounds of the scholars lead to the recognition of linguistic traits shared by Pali and their vernacular but not recognising the traits found in the other language. It seems that there are 3 great schools of Western Pali scholarship - the English, the Scandinavian and the German. Do you think there is a possibility that one day Pali grammar scholarship would be able to transcend the vernacular limitations of the scholars and be described in some meta-linguistics that aims to describe all languages?



I am not able to see any markedly different schools of Western Pali scholarship. I may of course be wrong, but as far as I can see, good tutors and grammars in English and German say the same. There are of course individual differences among scholars on some points, but that is just natural. It's the way it should be. And I also doubt that scholars are limited by their own vernaculars. If they were to produce spoken or written Pali themselves, such vernacular peculiarities would probably appear. But as for reading and understanding the classical text, once you have studied and understood the grammar, I do not think the results will be much influenced by the home region or vernacular of the scholar.
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:18 am

Kare,
You're welcome. I'll start with Warder.
Kindly
dL
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:32 am

Kare, Sylvester,
I was an English Lit. major (and close to a BA) before I switched to psychology. I was an "A" student except for the one four-hundred level required grammar course. I got a "C" and that's only because I wrote a great research paper (about tag questions). But the sentence diagramming and sentence type identification was very difficult for me to grasp. Basic grammar was even hard at firs, but I eventually overcame that (and two years of college Spanish probably helped). I'm nervous I'll face similar issues with Pali grammar. Do you have any advice for dealing with such obstacles?
Kindly,
dL
PS. I started with Bodhi's online course and he said if you're new to Pali De Sylva's Primer should be used but ATI says it starts falling short around ch. 11? Would it be a good idea to do the exercises in De Sylva up to that point and read Warder simultaneous or just stick with Warder? Also, what do you think of Bodhi's online course?
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:03 am

Daniel

I'll second Kare's recommendation of Warder. It's true that if you use da Silva's Primer, you will reach the point of diminishing returns quite rapidly. It's useful for a broad survey of the cases and conjugations, which is something that Warder's 1st 16 lessons were also designed to achieve. What's superior in Warder is his in-depth treatment of syntax that is unmatched. Pali syntax and grammatical constructions are sometimes obscured by enclitics or even words in a construction being distributed far apart in a clause/sentence. You won't find such structural analyses in other Pali textbooks.

Just bear in mind that Warder envisaged his Intro to be used as part of a 3 semester course in a formal setting. Since I've stopped my Pali classes, I guess I will have to distribute Warder over many more years of self-study before it becomes 2nd nature. I guess some formal background in Linguistics will give you an advantage, so that you won't have to check up on things like nominal, pronominal, adverbial etc etc. The ability to translate sentences only come after Lesson 27, when most of the hard work has been done on syntax.

So, while you grit your teeth in frustration before Lesson 27, you will still be able to easily understand how words are related to one another within a small turf of text. In fact, with the 1st 16 lessons, you will have learnt enough about compounds to audit how translators parse these annoying creatures and decide if a translation is legitimate.

Welcome to the Dark Side :jedi:
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:13 am

Kare wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
BTW, does zero copula feature in Scandivanian languages?



No. The Scandinavian languages have a grammar very similar to English (recently some linguists have put forward the theory that English is so strongly influence by the language of the Vikings that it ought to classified as a Scandinavian language as well - but that is another story). It can be found in Russian, however, and in classical Greek and Latin.

If there is one drawback I see, not in Pali, but in the European scholarship on Pali, is that the diverse linguistic backgrounds of the scholars lead to the recognition of linguistic traits shared by Pali and their vernacular but not recognising the traits found in the other language. It seems that there are 3 great schools of Western Pali scholarship - the English, the Scandinavian and the German. Do you think there is a possibility that one day Pali grammar scholarship would be able to transcend the vernacular limitations of the scholars and be described in some meta-linguistics that aims to describe all languages?



I am not able to see any markedly different schools of Western Pali scholarship. I may of course be wrong, but as far as I can see, good tutors and grammars in English and German say the same. There are of course individual differences among scholars on some points, but that is just natural. It's the way it should be. And I also doubt that scholars are limited by their own vernaculars. If they were to produce spoken or written Pali themselves, such vernacular peculiarities would probably appear. But as for reading and understanding the classical text, once you have studied and understood the grammar, I do not think the results will be much influenced by the home region or vernacular of the scholar.


Thanks! :thumbsup:

I was prompted to muse on the 3 Schools by a comment made by a Pali scholar (can't remember who it was) who opined that the early scholarship in the 18th and 19th C showed vernacular bias in how Pali cases were classified. An "English" scholar might for example classify the chaṭṭhī as genitive, but another from another linguistic tradition might find it easier to place the chaṭṭhī in another case which rested more comfortably in that tradition. I've not seen any Scandinavian material (except Johansson?) but I agree that the English and German seem to use the same classification (assuming Warder and Geiger are representative of each).
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Mr Man » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:03 am

Hi danieLion
So you have had a complete turnaround since the start of this thread and, for you, no longer think it is a "waste of effort"?
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby binocular » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:57 pm

danieLion wrote:But the sentence diagramming and sentence type identification was very difficult for me to grasp.

Which grammar theory was the course material working with?
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Coyote » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:58 pm

If I may ask a quick question without derailing this thread: How do monks learn Pali? It seems like many of the courses and methods mentioned on this thread are heavy grammar related methods, much like a school or university style language course. Do monks do a similar thing or is it more of an immersion style way of learning?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:17 pm

Mr Man wrote:Hi danieLion
So you have had a complete turnaround since the start of this thread and, for you, no longer think it is a "waste of effort"?

Hi Mr Man,
I qualified "waste of effort" with "usually" so my change is not a "complete turnaround." It represented a mood I was in at the time. There were times before that that I thought it was usually not a waste of effort. Right now my mood is that I won't know until I try, a mood I hope to sustain depsite the difficulties I'll encounter. The real change is in my heart and attitude: realizing there are people here who actually care enough to guide me through it; and that being a jerk or flippant or disrespectful about it is unskillful and detrimental to not only attempting to learn Pali but also to the cultivation of wise companionship and my practice of the four right exertions.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:21 pm

binocular wrote:
danieLion wrote:But the sentence diagramming and sentence type identification was very difficult for me to grasp.

Which grammar theory was the course material working with?

Hi binocular,
This was from '91-95 so I don't recall and don't have the text. I think there were ten sentence types. How many theories of grammar are there? Are we talking Chomsky v. Skinner? Korzybksi? Wittgenstein? J.L. Austin? Etc... & et al?
Kindly,
dL
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:22 pm

Sylvester wrote:Welcome to the Dark Side :jedi:

Thanks Sylvester. :reading:
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Mr Man » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:45 am

danieLion, hope that your efforts are well rewarded.
Best wishes
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby binocular » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:48 am

danieLion wrote:This was from '91-95 so I don't recall and don't have the text. I think there were ten sentence types. How many theories of grammar are there? Are we talking Chomsky v. Skinner? Korzybksi? Wittgenstein? J.L. Austin? Etc... & et al?

Yes, that sort of thing. It's possible to teach grammatical structures in ways no sane person can understand ...

From what I've seen, grammar theory as it generally used to be taught some 30 to 20 years ago (and before) in public schools in continental Europe was easy enough to understand. But some of the things that came later ... I've seen some recent textbooks for elementary schools and highschools and could barely understand what they were talking about.
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:58 pm

Thanks Mr Man.
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby danieLion » Mon Aug 26, 2013 6:01 pm

Sylvester wrote:
danieLion wrote:Thanks Sylvester.
FWIW: I just read in Amaro's/Pasanno's The Island that Pali does not require the subject-predicate form--which makes me warm up to Pali even more because it avoids the common "is of identity" and other Aristotelian linguistic trappings.
Kindly,
Daniel



Shriek!!! Have I been misled all this time about nouns and modifiers? Could you pls direct me to the page of an online edition where this was uttered?

Hi Sylvester,
I don't see how this is much different from what Warder says in his Intro. to Pali on pp. 9 and 14, particularly footnote 2 on p. 14.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Sylvester » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:03 am

Could you expand?

I read both citations of Warder and essentially this is what he is saying -

- at p.9, this is simply acknowledging the phenomenon that Pali is a zero-copula language. Where in English, the verb "is" must be supplied (eg The ball is red), the Pali equivalent "hoti" is optional. Is/hoti is a verb, and it is optional in Pali. See Warder at p.14 when he says -

(sometimes there is no verb in Pali in
this type of sentence : see above, last paragraph of the Introduction)


- at p.14, fn 2. Ahh, this is a bit more complicated. Warder belongs to the new generation of linguists who have departed from the ideals of the Port Royal Grammarians (see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port-Royal_Grammar and http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary. ... al+Grammar). Thus his critique of the belief that logical relations are that easily applicable to modern grammar, post 1900s linguistics. What he is rejecting here in fn 2 is the old description of subject-predicate based on Logic. He is not saying that it is not valid, but that it is incomplete and should be expanded to include another linguistic phenomenon. You need to turn to page 61 for a fuller description of the "nexus" and "junction" distinction he drew in fn 2. Classical subject-predicate grammar only deals with the "junction" but does not describe the "nexus". There is a difference between -

a) "..the ball that is red" or "...the red ball" (junction)

versus

b) .. the ball, which is red (nexus)

in English, and the same distinction exists in Pali.

"Nexus" and "junction" may be familiar only to professional linguists. For us mortals, the more familiar terminology is -

"Nexus" = non-restrictive relative clause
"Junction" = restrictive relative clause
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby chownah » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:11 am

Sylvester wrote:
a) "..the ball that is red" or "...the red ball" (junction)

versus

b) .. the ball, which is red (nexus)

in English, and the same distinction exists in Pali.

"Nexus" and "junction" may be familiar only to professional linguists. For us mortals, the more familiar terminology is -

"Nexus" = non-restrictive relative clause
"Junction" = restrictive relative clause

I believe you are mistaken. For us mortals all three ways (the ball that is red, the red ball, and the ball, which is read) mean the same thing. For us mortals the distinctions you make here are frivolous. Can you help us transcend our mortal constraints by explaining in English without using any Pali or linguistic or grammarian terms what the difference is? Maybe it will help if I start the narrative: " I am in a room where there are several balls. If I say the ball that is red I am referring to .....(what). If I say the red ball I am referring to.....(what). If I say the ball, which is red I am referring to.....(what). You could fill in the (what) places with something which will help us to see the difference.....or you could just forget this suggestion and do it your own way but do note that my approach has only words of one syllable with the exception of "referring" but of course "am referring to" could be replaced with "mean" and then it would be all monosyllabic but I left it as it is as the break in style serves to divide the sentence into two parts; the first part being the presentation of the example to be considered with the second part being the cogent explanation.....I am useing the "I am referring to" like the hook of a clothes hanger with the example on the left....your job is to place something on the right of the proper "weight"so that the hanger stays balanced and the sentence does not slip off and fall to the floor. I have faith.
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby Sylvester » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:27 am

If you deem it frivolous, so be it. I don't pander to those who are dismissive of what the experts know better. My job is not to improve on what Warder or Otto Jespersen has done. I suggest that you invest in some time Googling "nexus+linguistics", rather than demand that the rest of the world settle down to your comprehension level as the common denominator.
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Re: The Benefits & Drawbacks of Pali

Postby chownah » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:48 am

I just want to know if there is some practical difference in the three ways to refer to the ball.....to most people there is not.
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