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Introduction to Pali (1991)

Lesson 2 (sample text)

Nominative Plural

The nominative plural of masculine nouns in -a has the inflection aa. E.g., gaamaa, "villages".

First Conjugation Verbs with Irregular Stems

Many verbs included in the first conjugation have irregularly formed present stems. Some show the root unchanged where strengthening would be expected, others have the root enlarged or altered in various ways. When a suffix beginning with a consonant is added to a root ending in a consonant the preceding consonant is often "assimilated" to the following one. E.g.: s + ch > cch. (In a consonant cluster only the last consonant can be aspirated unless this is a semivowel, when the preceding consonant can retain its aspiration.) Once the stem is given, the inflection is perfectly singular:-

Accusative Case

The "patient" (kamma) which undergoes the action of an active verb (the "direct object") is expressed by the "accusative" (dutiyaa, upayoga) case ending. Masculines in a have the accusative singular inflection a.m. E.g.:-

purisa.m bandhati, "he binds the man"
sama.na.m vadati, "he says to the ascetic"

The accusative case is also used to express the goal of motion:

gaama.m pavisati, "he enters the village"

The accusative case may likewise express the (extent of) space traversed:

magga.m pa.tipajjati, "he follows the road" (pa.tipajjati is a third conjugation verb)

The accusative is used for an attribute of another accusative:

khattiyo braahma.na.m mahaamatta.m passati, "the warrior sees the priest who is the minister"

This type of construction includes such sentences as "he declares (that) time (is) the cause", where kaalo ("time") and paccayo ("condition", "cause") will both be in the accusative (kaala.m paccaya.m...).

Alternatively cases like this might be regarded as examples of what the old commentators call the "accusative of specification of state" (itthambhuutaakkhyaanatthe upayogavacana.m), usually translatable: "with reference to". E.g. Gotama.m eva.m ... saddo = "the report (saddo) ... thus (which follows in the next sentence) with reference to Gotamo (proper name)". This idiom is not common, "with reference to" generally being expressed by the locative case. The accusative is also used to specify the person in greetings and imprecations, with an indeclinable.

Some verbs take two patients (dvikammaka). These include verbs meaning to call, tell, or ask (someone something), and to take or bring (something somewhere):-

sama.na.m attha.m pucchaami, "I ask the philosopher the meaning (attho)"

The accusative is used to express the pure duration of time or casual point of time. This usage is not of common occurrence (when the time is that through which or necessarily at which something is accomplished the instrumental case is used):-

a.d.dhamaasa.m aagacchati, "he comes after a fortnight"
eka.m samaya.m ..., "one time ...", "once ..." (beginning a narrative)

The accusative singular neuter form of some adjectives is used as an "adverb":-

rassa (short; adjective in -a) > rassa.m passasaami, "I breathe out shortly", i.e. expel a short breath ((p)pa-(s)sas)

The accusative plural inflection of masculines in a is e. E.g. upaasake passati, "he sees the lay disciples".

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Verbs which can take a patient are called "transitive" (sakammaka). Verbs which cannot take a patient are called "intransitive" (akammaka). (Verbs which can take two patients are called bitransitive, dvikammaka, cf. above.) Verbs which are transitive in one language are not necessarily translated by verbs which are transitive in another, hence these properties much be noticed as they occur in Pali verbs. Transitivity is of course a property of verbs, not of their roots, thus the verbs bhuu and huu are intransitive but the verbs pari-bhuu ("despise") and anu-bhuu ("experience") are transitive, whilst paatu(r)-bhuu ("appear") and (p)pa-huu ("be able") are intransitive. The roots bhuu and huu are neither.


Nouns inflected like loko:-