Dropping of the 'R'

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Tranquility Base
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Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Tranquility Base » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:06 am

Why is the 'R' dropped in words such as dharmma, karma? What brought this change about?
Nichole

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tiltbillings
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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:16 am

Tranquility Base wrote:Why is the 'R' dropped in words such as dharmma, karma? What brought this change about?
Nichole
Pali, the language used by the Theravada, is a prakrit, a Sanskrit dialect and a bit older than the highly formalized "Classical Sanskrit". Like dialects in any spoken language there are going to be changes in pronunciations and other rules. Actually, Mahayana Buddhism and some of the other Mainstream Indian schools went from the various Sanskrit related dialects to more or less full Sanskrit, giving us dharma, karma, nirvana.

Theravada Buddhism has stayed with the older language which is now called Pali, giving us dhamma, kamma, and nibbana.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by PaulGar » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:32 am

I think the fact that the 'R' is dropped in Pali is a good thing for those living in some Buddhist countries. Thais in particular have a real problem pronouncing R :-)

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Tranquility Base » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:52 am

Thank You Tiltbillings for the answer. I knew it was a dialect change, just not the details. I'm a sticker for knowing detail. O like the fact that it stays within the older texts, that leads me to believe a more true translation. :)
Hi Paul :) I'm new to this sangha as well, and have been treated with openly kind answers and opinions. I really need them, as I study alone right now, and they are my 'sounding board' as well as teachers. Lol, I should have named myself 'grasshopper,'
although Tranquilty fits my nature too.

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by PaulGar » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:01 pm

Tranquility Base wrote:Thank You Tiltbillings for the answer. I knew it was a dialect change, just not the details. I'm a sticker for knowing detail. O like the fact that it stays within the older texts, that leads me to believe a more true translation. :)
Hi Paul :) I'm new to this sangha as well, and have been treated with openly kind answers and opinions. I really need them, as I study alone right now, and they are my 'sounding board' as well as teachers. Lol, I should have named myself 'grasshopper,'
although Tranquilty fits my nature too.
I don't really belong to any group either, and there is always good stuff to learn. I think one of the problems with the internet is that there are too many teachers and not enough students :-) I wish the name 'tranquility' would fit my nature too.

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:25 pm

>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by plwk » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:28 pm

PaulGar wrote:I think the fact that the 'R' is dropped in Pali is a good thing for those living in some Buddhist countries. Thais in particular have a real problem pronouncing R :-)
The Chinese too....

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Fede » Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:20 pm

A more modern comparison would be British English and American English...
It is said, 2 nations divided by a common language...


Spelling:
Colour - color
Humour - Humor
Aluminium - Aluminum
Kerb - curb

Vocabulary:
Trousers - pants
Waistcoat - vest
Braces - suspenders
scarf - muffler
estate - stationwagon
Bonnet - hood
Boot - trunk
pavement - sidewalk
motorway - freeway


The list is endless.

Just an additional illustration. :)
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:48 pm

plwk wrote:
PaulGar wrote:Thais in particular have a real problem pronouncing R :-)
The Chinese too....
You're reminding me of a rather politically-incorrect TV advert from my childhood, where the Chinese cook is saying "flying fish" instead of "frying fish"... :tongue:

It's worth keeping in mind which sounds are missing in which languages when thinking about how pronunciation is coming out. Another example is that there's no "v" in Thai, so you'll always hear "w" in Pali words like Savatthi, etc. from Thai and Thai-associated people.

And, of course, the same goes for English speakers. Some English speakers seem to not have a short "u" in their repertoire, so Buddha comes out as Booo-dha (which is exacerbated by not parsing the syllables as Bud-dha).

:anjali:
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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Kenshou » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:35 pm

Whaddya mean by "short u"? Our dialectical differences will probably make this really hard to talk about, actually.

The "long u" (generally this and sometimes this) in most English dialects is closer to the Pali "short u" (same as the latter previous sound) than the English "short u" (often this) would be, I'm pretty sure, which I believe Pali lacks. The Pali long and short vowel pairs are only distinguished by length and not quality of sound, the exception being the "a" pair.

But then I suppose it also depends which country's Pali style we're talking about, also.

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:15 pm

Kenshou wrote:Whaddya mean by "short u"? Our dialectical differences will probably make this really hard to talk about, actually.
Probably. I'm thinking in terms of duration. In Thai, for example, there are short and long versions of all the vowels. Same sound, different duration. That really doesn't apply in the English dialects I'm familiar with.

In the Thai-style Pali I'm familiar with the "u" in Buddho is definitely short. Roughly the same sound as in an English pronunciation of "boot" but not as long in duration as an English speaker would normally give "boot". In Pali there are long and short versions of some of the vowels.

As it says here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #pronounce" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Pāli has two sorts of vowels, long — ā, e, ī, o, ū, & ay; and short — a, i, & u. Unlike long and shorts vowels in English, the length here refers to the actual amount of time used to pronounce the vowel, and not to its quality. Thus ā & a are both pronounced like the a in father, simply that the sound ā is held for approximately twice as long as the sound a. The same principle holds for ī & i, and for ū & u.
:anjali:
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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Sylvester » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:42 am

plwk wrote:
PaulGar wrote:I think the fact that the 'R' is dropped in Pali is a good thing for those living in some Buddhist countries. Thais in particular have a real problem pronouncing R :-)
The Chinese too....

Only the Southern Chinese linguistic groups. Not a problem for the Northern Chinese, with their plethora of initial 'R' consonants (Rong, Re, Rui, Rang, Rou, Ru etc).

But, the TV stereotype of "flied lice" is probably quite true, given that the earliest and most populous Chinese migrant waves were represented by the Cantonese and other Southern "dialect" groups without the 'R'.

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:10 am

Sylvester wrote: Only the Southern Chinese linguistic groups. Not a problem for the Northern Chinese, with their plethora of initial 'R' consonants (Rong, Re, Rui, Rang, Rou, Ru etc).
Yes, similarly native southern (e.g. Cantonese) speakers are not so good at "s" sounds, whereas there are plenty of different "s" sounds in Putonghua (which I have difficulty differentiating). Deep down Thai is related to those southern dialects, so shares some similarity in sounds and tones.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:25 am

Hi, everyone,
A concept that's really useful in a discussion like this is allophone:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/16529/allophone# wrote:allophone, one of the phonetically distinct variants of a phoneme. The occurrence of one allophone rather than another is usually determined by its position in the word (initial, final, medial, etc.) or by its phonetic environment. Speakers of a language often have difficulty in hearing the phonetic differences between allophones of the same phoneme, because these differences do not serve to distinguish one word from another. In English the t sounds in the words “hit,” “tip,” and “little” are allophones; phonemically they are considered to be the same sound although they are different phonetically in terms of aspiration, voicing, and point of articulation. In Japanese and some dialects of Chinese, the sounds f and h are allophones.
In English, 'th' has several different sounds which we normally regard as 'the same sound' - try saying 'thin' and 'then', for instance.
French distinguishes two 'u' sounds which English doesn't separate - I was forced to listen harder and speak more carefully to get the difference between 'dessus' and 'dessous'; since they mean 'above' and 'below' respectively, the difference is pretty important.
All good fun!
:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by Sylvester » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:07 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sylvester wrote: Only the Southern Chinese linguistic groups. Not a problem for the Northern Chinese, with their plethora of initial 'R' consonants (Rong, Re, Rui, Rang, Rou, Ru etc).
Yes, similarly native southern (e.g. Cantonese) speakers are not so good at "s" sounds, whereas there are plenty of different "s" sounds in Putonghua (which I have difficulty differentiating). Deep down Thai is related to those southern dialects, so shares some similarity in sounds and tones.

:anjali:
Mike
Yikes! Now I begin to wonder if I'm a true-blue Cantonese, what with my menagerie of Sam, Sei, Sart, Sut, Sook, Suei, Sin and Sim (the last being the Cantonese for Jhana). :cry:

P.S. Someone published a genomic study of the residents of Canton province and found that more than half of the population shared a genetic legacy with the Dai ethnic minority. Whether these Dai are the remnants of the native populations displaced by the migration policies in the Tang era and related to the Thais is anyone's guess.

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by salmon » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:47 am

Sylvester wrote:
plwk wrote:
PaulGar wrote:I think the fact that the 'R' is dropped in Pali is a good thing for those living in some Buddhist countries. Thais in particular have a real problem pronouncing R :-)
The Chinese too....

Only the Southern Chinese linguistic groups. Not a problem for the Northern Chinese, with their plethora of initial 'R' consonants (Rong, Re, Rui, Rang, Rou, Ru etc).

But, the TV stereotype of "flied lice" is probably quite true, given that the earliest and most populous Chinese migrant waves were represented by the Cantonese and other Southern "dialect" groups without the 'R'.
All Chinese linguistic groups have R consonants, L consonants & X consonants (not S)...Many Asian languages tend to be mono-syllable (and tonal), so a combination of consonants tend to confound the tongue :tongue:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~

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Re: Dropping of the 'R'

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:29 am

salmon wrote: All Chinese linguistic groups have R consonants, L consonants & X consonants (not S)...
However, in many cases the R has become indistinguishable from L. This is the case for the way many (most?) Thai people speak Thai (as opposed to the official version spoken by TV presenters, the Thai equivalent of BBC English) and appears to be the case for many Cantonese. Apparently a few years ago the Lao language simply dropped the "R" letter as a waste of effort...

I'm not sure if this is helping the original questioner, though it does illustrate that pronunciation is a tricky business.

Getting back to Pali, your comment about the mono-syllabic nature of many Asian languages is a useful point to make. I'm not sure if Pali is technically mono-syllabic, but Thai certainly is, and so the Pali I mostly hear is. English (and probably speakers of other European languages) sometimes have difficulty with this. In the Pali context it's important to figure out the syllables correctly: dhamma is dham-ma, not dhaaa-ma.

Mike

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