|Title:||The Chronology of the Pali Canon: The case of the Aorists||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Paul Kingsbury||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||University of Pennsylvania, Department of Linguistics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Historical Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics;|
|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.