LINGUIST List 7.1069

Wed Jul 24 1996

Disc: Indic scripts

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Lars Martin Fosse, Re: 7.1051, Misc: Indic scripts, Multilinguality

Message 1: Re: 7.1051, Misc: Indic scripts, Multilinguality

Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 12:02:17 +0300
From: Lars Martin Fosse <>
Subject: Re: 7.1051, Misc: Indic scripts, Multilinguality

>Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 22:57:26 CDT
>From: (Peter Daniels)
>Subject: Re: 7.1013, Disc: Indic scripts
>I thank Dr. Fosse for the characterization of "Pali." The term,
>however, does not appear in the index of Masica's *Indo-Aryan
>Languages*, which makes me think it is not a part of current
>(linguistic) scholarship; .....

Re Pali/Paali:

(The double aa in Elizarenkova's spelling simply indicates that the
vowel is long. This is not always made explicit in ordinary

I am not quite certain what Dr. Daniels means when he says that Pali
is "not a part of current (linguistic) scholarship". As a matter of
fact, since the last century a lot of work has been done on Pali and
other Middle Indic languages. Let me quote two fairly recent titles by
the eminent German specialist Oskar von Hinueber:

Oscar von Hinuber (1982). "Paali as an Artificial Language."
Indologica Taurinensia, Turin, X: 133-140.

Oskar von Hinueber (1986). Das aeltere Mittelindisch im
Ueberblick. Wien, Verlag der Oesterreichischen Akademie der

The study of Pali is therefore, at least, very much a part of current
Indological scholarship. However, whether linguists of a
non-Indological leaning study Pali, I cannot tell.

As for the use of Pali, it is in principle very much the same as with
Sanskrit or, for that matter, Latin. It was the Church language of
Hinayana Buddhism, and has been used for more than 2000 years in that
capacity. Since I am not a Pali scholar (I'd rather refer to von
Hinueber, who is), I will not discuss the details of variation that
may apply geographically or chronologically. My own experience of
Sanskrit is that this language is often heavily influenced by
vernaculars, and that the quality of the language with regard to a
given standard strongly depends upon the level of learning of the
language user.

Please note that all ancient written languages of India have an
artificial quality. They do not correspond exactly to what people
actually said. This is still the case with several modern Indic
languages. For instance, I believe written Bengali is quite different
from spoken Bengali. Hindi, written by a well-educated person, looks
quite different from the kind of language you will hear in the streets
of New Delhi.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudveien 76, Leil. 114,
N-0674 OSLO Norway

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
=46ax: +47 22 32 12 19
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

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