Re: [Pali] Accent in Pali
- where it is placed in Pali words?
In the old grammars
rules governing stress are only given for verse, not
The main source is the Vuttodaya by San.gharakkhita, but the
are too long for me to summarize in an e-mail. I suggest that
consult one of the following:
Vuttodaya, A Study of
Pali Metre. R. Siddharatha. Calcutta 1929 (there is
also a very
cheap reprint by Sri Satguru Publications, New Delhi, 1981).
Metre. A.K. Warder (PTS 1967)
If you read Russian then look
out for a copy of "Yazyk Pali" by Tatiana
Elizarenkova & Vladimir N. Toporov (USSR Academy of
Sciences, Moscow 1976).
Its chapters on phonemics and
versification cover about the same ground as
Warder's book for
a fraction of the cost.
As for the accent in prose
passages, here are the views of two modern scholars:
accent it is difficult to state anything definite about
phonological significance on the basis of surviving Pali
texts because they
are not written in scripts that show
accents. We can only confine ourselves
to informed hypotheses
established chiefly on diachronic data. On this
basis Pali can
reasonably be viewed as having lost the tonal system that
characteristic of Old Indian, but retaining the original placing
accent. This (along with the expiratory character of
Pali stress) is often
indicated by changes in the vocalism of
the unstressed (from the point of
view of Old Indian) syllables
(Yazyk Pali, Elizarenkova &
"Nothing has been handed down to us about
the nature of the Pali accent. It
is, however, improbable, that
the ancient Indian accent was still in force.
It is more likely
that, as Jakobi has suggested for Prakrit, the Sanskritic
was the rule in Pali. This is suggested by the change in vocalism
Pali, such as the weakening of a vowel after the accented
syllable (in the
Skt form) or its strengthening in the main
(Pali Grammar, Wilhelm Geiger)
Geiger is correct that "the Sanskritic accent was the rule in
then stress should be placed on:
(whether long or short) followed by a short syllable:
The fourth syllable from the end (whether long or short) when two
there are many exceptions to these rules, so to get the
picture you would need to consult a Sanskrit grammar or
one of the online
As for the modern
pronunciation of Pali (i.e. by Thai, Sinhalese and
scholars when reading a Pali passage) there isn't any
accepted convention governing stress. The Sinhalese, so I'm
place the stress according to the same rules that govern Sanskrit,
I have given them above.
Thais, on the other hand,
when reading a Pali text will intone the words
according to the
same tonal rules that govern the Thai language, but place
stress wherever they feel like it. But when chanting Pali, both
and stress will depend on which style of chanting they are
are several of them in use. As for the
Burmese, I've no idea what they do.
RE: Re: [Pali] Accent in Pali
Here comes another
non-expert to share what he learnt from others and thought
1. The niggahita (overdot/underdot m)
something that I've given quite some thought about. I was at first
puzzled as to the way the Sri Lankans render it. There's
difference in pronunciation between the
overdot/underdot m and the overdot n.
They both sound like 'ng'
as in 'sing'. The Burmese on the other hand pronounces
Now this doesn't make sense to me. As in the way
languages evolve, the spoken
word comes before the written. So,
if "m and "n (or "m and m) are pronounced the
how did one sound split into two characters?
A couple of
years ago, I have the good chance of meeting a Burmese monk
in India. Upon my asking, he told me that it is
pronounced as a nasalized m.
Like .n, it's nasalized, but the
lips are closed at the end.
It seemed very reasonable to
me. Furthermore, questions that I have about the
sandhis involving the niggahita begin to fall into place. I'll
illustrate them. Rather, I'd like to invite members of the group
this as a hypothesis and test it in your reading of the
Pali texts, bearing in
mind always that Pali was more of a
A related issue is whether the niggahita
is better romanized as an overdot or
underdot m. Considering
that it is nasalised and not retroflexed (like .t, .d,
personally prefer the dot on top for the sake of consistency.
I do not know how the emphasis should be done
technically. However, having
chanted verses with my teacher,
keeping what should be chanted long long, and
short short, the
idea of how to put the stresses at the right syllables seems
fall into place by itself. It's easier to get a feel of it
verses, whereby the words are specially
arranged so that there's a particular
pattern as to the long
and short syllables, producing a consistent rhythm
the verse. (A side-effect of such a special arrangement is
poetic license is liberally used, making Pali verses hard
to understand and
There's obviously such a thing as long and short
bala means strength; power; force
means young in years; ignorant; foolish; child; fool.
Another example: vata & vatta, which are
two very different words.
For dukkha, you could say that
the 'k' sound occurs twice, or that there’s a
between the two 'k's. So, it's pronounced as duk-kha, as not
doo-kha as I
often here from native English-speakers.
native English-speakers also say Boo-dha. Any Sri Lankan can tell
that's wrong, and that the right way to pronounce it is
While the Buddha must have known that the teaching
would move to different
cultures, it wouldn't make sense for
him to modify current speech suit
everybody, everywhere, then
and now. The people then would have trouble
It's common for people of different cultures have
difficulty producing certain
sounds of a foreign language. What
may be difficult for someone to pronounce may
not be so with
another. Many Chinese learning English as a foreign language
a tough time trying to pronounce "the"
correctly, simply because the "th" sound
within their vocal scheme.
At 04:13 AM 11-06-02, Andy
>a) What was the
nationality of the person who created romanized Pali?
think they were English. They later on established the Pali Texts
>b) What year did that person create
Probably in the 19th century.
>c) What form
of English (British, American, India) did they