"Ko nu kho"? "What" or "who"?

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DooDoot
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"Ko nu kho"? "What" or "who"?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:25 am

Dear Pali teachers

The term "ko nu kho" is found in the suttas, as follows:
“But sir, who contacts?”

“Ko nu kho, bhante, phusatī”ti?

“That’s not a fitting question,” said the Buddha.

“No kallo pañho”ti bhagavā avoca:

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.12/en/sujato
Also:
“What’s the cause, Reverend Ānanda, what’s the reason why the true teaching declines?

“ko nu kho, āvuso ānanda, hetu, ko paccayo yena saddhammaparihānaṃ hoti?

https://suttacentral.net/sn47.23/en/sujato
How is "who" vs "what" distinguished?

Thank you

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Dhammanando
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Location: Ban Sri Pradu Rubber Forest, Phrao, Chiangmai

Re: "Ko nu kho"? "What" or "who"?

Post by Dhammanando » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:31 am

In the great majority of cases the context alone will suffice to show whether "what?" or "who?" is the more apt translation of ko. In your second passage, for example, clearly "What?" is needed, for the answer to the question is a mode of behaviour, not a person.

In cases where either translation might arguably make sense, the translator will probably base his decision either on (1) His knowledge of typical/natural ways of framing questions in sutta usage; it will sometimes happen that one of the two options, though semantically possible, would amount to an inelegant or unnatural way of phrasing the question; (2) His knowledge of Buddhist doctrine.

In the case of your first passage, if "What?" were used in place of "Who?" then it's hard to see why it would be an "unfit question", for elsewhere in the suttas we do find the Buddha saying things like "contacts contact," "feeling feels", etc., and so it would actually be an easily answerable question.

SarathW
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Re: "Ko nu kho"? "What" or "who"?

Post by SarathW » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:54 am

Just a matter of interest.
In Sinhalese, we use Ko,Ku,Ki to ask questions.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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pitakele
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Re: "Ko nu kho"? "What" or "who"?

Post by pitakele » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:25 am
“But sir, who contacts?”

“Ko nu kho, bhante, phusatī”ti?

“That’s not a fitting question,” said the Buddha.

“No kallo pañho”ti bhagavā avoca:
Slightly away from your Pali question, but this gāthā from the Sakkārasutta has a similar meaning
Gāme v'āraññe sukhadukkhaphuṭṭho,
Nevattato no parato dahetha.

“Affected by pleasure and pain in the village or wilderness,
you should certainly not consider it as due to oneself or another."

Phusanti phassā upadhiṃ paṭicca,
Nirūpadhiṃ kena phuseyyu phassā?

"Contacts affect one with cleaving as condition,
How could contacts affect one without cleaving?”

https://suttacentral.net/ud2.4/en/anandajoti
now here = nowhere

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DooDoot
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Re: "Ko nu kho"? "What" or "who"?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:39 am

Thank you Dhammanando, Sarath & Pitakele.

:anjali:

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