An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values, and Issues

By Peter Harvey | Go to book overview

A note on language and pronunciation
Most of the foreign words in this work are from Pali and Sanskrit, which are closely related languages of ancient India. Pali is the scriptural, liturgical and scholarly language of Southern Buddhism, one of the three main cultural traditions of Buddhism. Sanskrit, or rather 'Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit', is the language in which many of the scriptures and scholarly treatises of Mahāyāna Buddhism came to be written in India. Northern and Eastern Buddhism, where the Mahāyānaformof Buddhism predominates, generally use the Tibetan or Chinese translations of these texts. Many works on Buddhism give only Sanskrit versions of words, but this is artificial as Sanskrit is no longer used by Buddhists (except in Nepal), but Pali is still much in use.This work therefore uses Pali versions of terms for most of early Buddhism, for Southern/Theravāda Buddhism, and when discussing Buddhism in general. Sanskrit versions are used when particularly discussing Mahāyāna forms of Buddhism, for some early schools which also came to use Sanskrit, and when discussing Hinduism. Sanskrit is also used for certain key terms that have come to be known in English: Nirvān$$a (Pali Nibbāna), karma (Pali kamma), Bodhisattva (Pali Bodhisatta) and Stūpa (Pali Thūpa). In many cases, Pali and Sanskrit terms are spelt the same. Where they are spelt differently, the Pali spelling is the simpler.Both Pali and Sanskrit have more than twenty-six letters, which means that when they are written in the roman alphabet, the extra letters need to be represented by the use of diacritical marks. Once the specific sounds of the letters are known, Pali and Sanskrit words are then pronounced as they are written, unlike English ones. It is therefore worth taking account of the diacritical marks, as they give a clear guide to pronunciation. The letters are pronounced as follows:
i.
a is short and flat, like the u in 'hut' or 'utter'
i is short, like i in 'bit'
u is like u in 'put', or oo in 'foot'

-xix-

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