Cover of Bryan G. Levman: Pali and Buddhism

Bryan G. Levman Pali and Buddhism

Language and Lineage

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This book is a collection of essays on the history and evolution of the Pali language, which preserves the earliest record of the Buddha's teaching. Although only the Pali record has survived, it argues that the Buddha also taught in several of the indigenous languages of northern India, including Dravidian, probably Munda and possibly others. Pali was derived from a koine or common language for inter-dialect communication between the different dialects spoken by the Indo-Aryan immigrants, but was also strongly influenced by the languages of the indigenous peoples, Dravidian and Munda. The language of the Buddha's native clan, the Sakyas, was probably Dravidian, which had a Munda substrate. The Buddha was bi- or multilingual and taught in the Indo Aryan koine of the immigrants, but also in the local language(s) of his people, whose impact may be found in extensive word and cultural borrowing from these languages into Indo-Aryan, and a significant phonological, morphological and syntactical imprint on Pali and other Indo-Aryan languages. The book examines this influence and other factors of language change over time in the context of current theories of comparative philology.

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