Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pālī Language [part III]

The reason Pālī is determined to serve as a ‘primary source’ is from three implications according to Asian scholars;  

  1. Pālī is believed to preserve the original teachings [ontology] of the Buddha  
  2. Pālī sustains or perpetuates solidly in which the grammatical features and style are strong and subjected not to be changed in any conditions. 
  3. Therefore, Pālī is traditionally and continuously adopted from one tradition to the another endlessly since its origin.
Additionally, K.R. Norman (The current president of The Pali Text Society) agrees with the significant notion in which Pālī is not a proper name of any language. However, he strongly suggests that actually Pālī itself is the ‘tipit᷂aka’ – the ‘tipit᷂aka’ is Pālī of the orthodox Theravadin traditions [other traditions provide no significance and interest in this notion].

Thus, the acceptance of the term Pālī as the hypothetical name of the ‘tipit᷂aka’, rather than using original term as ‘the tepit᷂aka – the tripit᷂aka in accordance to its origin, from various Theravadin traditions [especially in South East Asian Countries] is possibly, somewhat, a misunderstanding for centuries through historical contexts.  In the prominent Pālī- English Dictionary codified by Childers in 1875, he clearly states that the new term of use in English, regarding the term of ‘pālī’, is based upon the Singhalese language in which the meaning is ‘the tipit᷂aka’ not the name of any language. However, this term may have been noticed and adopted by the European predecessors who possibly had been in Ceylon before Childers in which their scholarly works on Buddhism were translated directly from that of the Singhalese sources.

Nevertheless, another European [French] scholar like Bournouf, who put a great effort and evotion studying Pālī in early period in Ceylon, suggested in his work published in 1826 that the first figure who mentioned about the term ‘Pālī’ as a proper name of a language is De Cimont De La Laubare [The French Ambassador of Luis IVX] who visited Siam [currently Thailand] in 1687-1688. His diary vividly described various conditions of the Kingdom of Siam [probably called Ayuttaya Kingdom by the Siamese] was properly printed in 1693.

Additionally Sathianpong suggests that in the Burmese chronicle around the latter half of the nineteenth century mentioned the term ‘Pālī’ in the general contexts in which it is the name of a language. However, the assumption in the Burmese work merely emphasizes the interpretation which had been discovered earlier from the Sinhalese sources. Therefore, the Burmese scholars may or may not have used the term ‘pālibhasā’ which means ‘pali language’ before or after, it is still doubtful.

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