Post on “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1

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    • #26899
      Lal
      Keymaster

      This post is from Lang (cubibobi).

      My questions are about plurality and capitalization in Sinhala script:
      I have seen the use of ā for plurality, such as citta and cittā, sutta and suttā. Adding an “s”, such as in suttas, is clearly and English imposition.  In Sinhala, are citta and cittā two different words?

      Secondly, is there a distinction in capitalization in Sinhala script? For example, is dhamma (what one bears) written differently from Dhamma (teaching of Buddha)?
      Thank you,

      Lang

    • #26900
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Lang asked: “In Sinhala, are citta and cittā two different words?”

      Those are Pali words and WRITTEN with the Sinhala script as චිත්ත and චිත්තා.
      – Note the slight difference.

      The Sinhala words are සිත and සිත්.
      – We know that English words are thought and thoughts.

      Lang asked: “Secondly, is there a distinction in capitalization in Sinhala script? For example, is dhamma (what one bears) written differently from Dhamma (teaching of Buddha)?”

      No. There are no capital letters in Sinhala.
      – dhamma (what one bears) is written as ධම්මා (in plural)
      – Dhamma (teaching of Buddha) is written as බුද්ධ ධම්ම. Note that ධම්ම here is in the singular.

      P.S. I missed Lang’s following comment: “I have seen the use of ā for plurality, such as citta and cittā, sutta and suttā. Adding an “s”, such as in suttas, is clearly and English imposition.”

      The plural of citta and sutta SHOULD BE cittā and suttā.
      – I have been writing the plurals as cittas and suttas, since that may make it easier for many to understand.
      – But I am going to discuss this in the next post, and also try to adhere to the correct way in the future.

      Good questions!

    • #26902
      cubibobi
      Participant

      I think I see the difference: there is an extra mark at the end to indicate plurality, the mark that looks like the letter “C” reversed; and written in English, I believe this is represented as the dash above the letter a: ā.

      If this is the case, then does it apply to nouns ending in vowels other than a, such as:

      1 bikkhu –> many bhikkhū
      1 bikkhuni –> many bhikkhunī

      Back to the word “dhamma”. Is it true to say that:

      “dhamma” as in what one bears is always plural: dhammā
      “dhamma” as in buddha dhamma is singular: dhamma

      Thank you
      Lang

    • #26904
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Yes to all.

      There are some subtleties in Pali grammar that I have not discussed. That could be “too much” to cover at once.
      – But with the next few posts, I will try to cover some key aspects.

    • #26906
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Thank you, Lal.

      As we spend more and more time on puredhamma.net, we are more drawn to Pali, so knowing a bit more about the language like this is exciting.

      On an unrelated matter, I wrote these responses in Internet Explorer. Lal mentioned a bug in the system, and often posts did not get published. I experienced that several times, and Lal helped me post. I was using either Chrome or Firefox then, and this time, I used IE, and it went through! You may want to give it a try.

    • #27036
      sumbodhi
      Participant

      Hi cubibobi,

      Citta is the “root” form of the word. Root forms do not have plurals. Technically it’s incorrect saying that cittā is the plural of ‘citta’, rather cittā is the plural cittaṃ. ‘Cittaṃ’ is the nominative singular of the root word ‘citta’. So cittā is A plural of ‘citta’ but not THE plural of ‘citta’. Cittā thus is the plural of the singular ‘cittaṃ’ (also the plural vocative, but that’s another story).

      The root forms of the words in Pāḷi are rarely used on their own in the Tipiṭaka (if at all), but are very widely used in Western translations when talking about the concept or base meaning of the word.

      By the way, the same applies to ‘sutta’ which is the dictionary form (root form) of the word, where the nominative singular would be suttaṃ and plural suttā.

      But both of those root words (citta/sutta) have other plurals, that is – plural forms in other grammatical cases, for example cittāni, suttāni which are both plural forms of “citta” and “sutta”.

      Another neuter word which “behaves” like citta and sutta is “mūla” which becomes mūlaṃ in nominative singular but the preferred nominative plural is mūlāni, for example “tīṇi akusalamūlāni” means “(the) three unwholesome roots” (of course those are lobha, moha, dosa, where all 3 of these words too are ‘root forms’, in nominative singular they become lobho, moho, doso).

      Also there are really many word forms which can end in long a (ā) in BOTH singular and plural nominative and which are feminine gender, for example “paññā”, “mettā”.

      My point is, if you really want to dig deeper into Pāḷi then you must learn its grammar. But it might be not easy for people who don’t speak languages with a case system.

      And finally, Sinhala is a great language, but keep in mind that even tho it shares similarities with Pali it’s not the same language in many regards (starting with pronunciation).

      If you told me what your native language is I could try to explain things better for you based on it. Lal’s called you Lang, so I’m guessing it must be a sinitic language.

    • #27037
      Lal
      Keymaster

      sumbodhi wrote, “Citta is the “root” form of the word.”

      Citta is not a word? Cittā (thoughts) is plural of citta (a thought.)

      Here is a verse from dhammasaṅgaṇī: 2.4.2. Dukaatthuddhāra
      “Katame dhammā cittā? Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ, sotaviññāṇaṃ, ghānaviññāṇaṃ, jivhāviññāṇaṃ, kāyaviññāṇaṃ, manodhātu, manoviññāṇadhātu—ime dhammā cittā.”

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