What writing system(s) does this language use?
In ancient times, Pali was written in Brāhmī script. Local scripts like Khmer, Burmese, and in modern times Thai (since 1893), Devanāgarī and Mon script (Mon State, Burma) have been used to write Pali. Since the 19th century, Pali has also been written in the Roman script. The Pali alphabetical order is as follows:
- a ā i ī u ū e o ṁ k kh g gh ṅ c ch j jh ñ ṭ ṭh ḍ ḍh ṇ t th d dh n p ph b bh m y r l ḷ v s h
ḷh, although a single sound, is written with ligature of ḷ and h.
How many people speak this language?
Now Pali is studied to read Buddhist scriptures, and is frequently used in a ritual context. Theravada nations of Southeast Asia: Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia are still the great centers of Pali learning.
Where is this language spoken?
Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Laos, Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam
What is the history of this language?
Pali is a historical language. When the canonical texts were written down in Sri Lanka in the first century BCE, Pali stood close to a living language; this is not the case for the commentaries. Despite excellent scholarship on this problem, there is persistent confusion as to the relation of Pāḷi to the vernacular spoken in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, which was located around modern-day Bihār.
Pali literature includes Buddhist philosophical works, poetry and some grammatical works. Major works in Pali are Jataka tales, Dhammapada, Atthakatha, and Mahavamsa. Some of the major Pali grammarians were Kaccayana, Moggallana and Vararuci (who wrote Prakrit Prakash).
What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
|Tumha kathaṃ assī?||How are you?|
|sukhuma, thometi.||I'm fine, thank you.|
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
pañca-sīlāni Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.
Five Precepts I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.
Introduction • Glossary • Authors and Contributing • Print Version