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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton May 27, 2021

Sanskritization in Pāli

Bryan G. Levman

Abstract

This article continues the discussion on the nature of the early language of Buddhism and the language that the Buddha spoke, arguing that the received Pāli transmission evolved out of an earlier Middle Indic idiom, which is identified as a koine. Evidence for this koine can be found by examining correspondence sets within Pāli and its various varieties and by examining parallel, cognate correspondence sets between Pāli and other Prakrits which have survived. This article compares 30 correspondence sets transmitted in the Dhammapada recensions: the Gāndhārī Prakrit verses, the partially Sanskritized Pāli and Patna Dhammapada Prakrit verses, and the fully Sanskritized verses of the Udānavarga. By comparing cognate words, it demonstrates the existence of an underlying inter-language which in many cases can be shown to be the source of the phonological differences in the transmission. The paper includes a discussion on the two major factors of dialect change, evolution with variation over time, and the diffusionary, synchronic influence of dialect variation; it concludes that both are important, with dialect variation – and the phonological constraints of indigenous speakers who adopted MI as a second language – providing the pathways on which the natural evolutionary process was channeled.


Corresponding author: Bryan G. Levman, University of Toronto, 91 Ardwold Gate, Toronto, ON M5R 2W1, Canada, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2021-05-27
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

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