18 Facts About Pali


Pali is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent.

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Pali has some commonalities with both the western Ashokan Edicts at Girnar in Saurashtra, and the Central-Western Prakrit found in the eastern Hathigumpha inscription.

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Nonetheless, Pali does retain some eastern features that have been referred to as Magadhisms.

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In Sri Lanka, Pali is thought to have entered into a period of decline ending around the 4th or 5th century, but ultimately survived.

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The earliest samples of Pali discovered are inscriptions believed to date from 5th to 8th Century located in mainland Southeast Asia, specifically central Siam and lower Burma.

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Surprisingly, the oldest surviving Pali manuscript was discovered in Nepal dating to the 9th Century.

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Pali was first mentioned in Western literature in Simon de la Loubere's descriptions of his travels in the kingdom of Siam.

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Pali suggests it is likely that the viharas in North India had separate collections of material, preserved in the local dialect.

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Pali died out as a literary language in mainland India in the fourteenth century but survived elsewhere until the eighteenth.

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Today Pali is studied mainly to gain access to Buddhist scriptures, and is frequently chanted in a ritual context.

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The great centres of Pali learning remain in Sri Lanka and other Theravada nations of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

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In 1869, the first Pali Dictionary was published using the research of Robert Caesar Childers, one of the founding members of the Pali Text Society.

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Pali literature is usually divided into canonical and non-canonical or extra-canonical texts.

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Pali is a highly inflected language, in which almost every word contains, besides the root conveying the basic meaning, one or more affixes which modify the meaning in some way.

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Pali nouns inflect for three grammatical genders and two numbers.

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The existence of a Sanskrit word regularly corresponding to a Pali word is not always secure evidence of the Pali etymology, since, in some cases, artificial Sanskrit words were created by back-formation from Prakrit words.

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Historically, the first written record of the Pali canon is believed to have been composed in Sri Lanka, based on a prior oral tradition.

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Transmission of written Pali has retained a universal system of alphabetic values, but has expressed those values in a variety of different scripts.

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