LINGUIST List 14.82

Fri Jan 10 2003

Diss: Historical Ling: Kingsbury "The Chronology..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. kingsbur, Historical Ling: Kingsbury "The Chronology of..."

Message 1: Historical Ling: Kingsbury "The Chronology of..."

Date: Thu, 09 Jan 2003 15:00:36 +0000
From: kingsbur <>
Subject: Historical Ling: Kingsbury "The Chronology of..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002
Author: Paul Kingsbury 

Dissertation Title: 
The Chronology of the Pali Canon: The Case of the Aorists

Linguistic Field: 
Text/Corpus Linguistics, Historical Linguistics

Subject Language: Bareli

Dissertation Director 1: George Cardona

Dissertation Abstract: 

The early Buddhist canon written in Pali comprises some 4 million
words of text written across several centuries in early India. As
such, it is of interest not only to scholars of Buddhism but also
linguists and historians for the insight it gives into the social,
linguistic, and religious culture of the time. Such insights are
hindered however by the fact that it is difficult to determine which
texts refer to which historical period. Previous attempts at this
determination have relied on impressionistic or poorly-defined
criteria, or have been extremely limited in the number of texts they
classify. With the advent of electronic corpora, however, it becomes
possible to do rigorous large-scale studies on the Canon. This study
examines the evidence found in the aorist system of the Pali language.
This system was undergoing a great deal of flux at the time as it
changed from the complex system used earlier in India to the much
simpler system used later. I examine five different types of aorists
and show how each can be used to confirm or deny the 'conventional
wisdom' on the chronology of the Canon, or how and why the type cannot
be used to say anything about the chronology. Finally, I demonstrate
how the patterns of usage of aorists, combined with recent work in
statistical historical corpus linguistics, can be used to propose a
new chronology for the Canon.
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