Astonishing results on Pāli lookup ;-)

Sometimes the excellent lookup feature adds to bewilderment rather than resolving it. Unfortunately, I have not systematically kept track of some of the more hilarious renditions, but maybe some of you want to join building a collection…

An example I stumbled upon can be found in AN 1.51:

“Pabhassa­ra­midaṃ, bhikkhave, cittaṃ. Tañca kho āgantukehi upakkilesehi vippamuttaṃ. Taṃ sutavā ariyasāvako yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti. Tasmā ‘sutavato ariyasāvakassa cittabhāvanā atthī’ti vadāmī”ti.(

Translated by Thanissaro as:

“Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that—for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones—there is development of the mind.”(

Instead of vipamutta [vi + pamutta] = set free, we are offered a strange suggestion by the lookup tool (see screenshot):

On a more serious note, this exemplifies not only the machine lookup’s but also the amateur translator’s plight with pāli compounds. Who of us has not yet grappled with deconstructing a single word spanning nearly a full line of print in an already obscure text - with about half a dozen propable meanings, depending upon which consonant gemination you regard as incidential and where exactly you wield the syllable cleaver…

On a more technical note, I have previously been told that the SC lookup tool is based on the Digital Pāli Reader’s lookup tool (available as a Firefox extension here ). However, the DPR gets the expression in AN 1.52 right (screenshot below). I have noted many of these discrepancies between SC lookup and DPR lookup. But that remark is beyond the original scope of this tongue-in-cheek topic. I apologize :relieved:.



Thanks for the critique and the smiles! But hey, maybe it really does mean the mind is a brahmin’s urine? Maybe we’ve been misunderstanding it all this time!

But yes, the tool is far from 100%, and hopefully we can make it better over time. The foundations of making it better are to make a better lookup dictionary: this is the key to it all. We have already begun this, and it should be completed in a year or two, we hope. Then we’ll look again at seeing if the coding can be improved.

It is, but the code was extensively modified by Blake so it would work better on a website. On the whole, the DPR lookup probably gets more words correct, although I haven’t checked them side by side in detail.


I believe the word Bhikkhūnī is still being translated as ‘not a monk’.
Which some Thai and Burmese authorities might say is true… however :stuck_out_tongue:


Yeah, this is bad. As it happens we looked at this tool the other day. The inner workings are arcane!

@blake, I wonder if we can fix this?

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Interesting, the dictionary for this says:

"bhikkhuṇī": ["f.", "a Buddhist nun."],

But it has an and not an n and in some versions of the Pali texts it is spelled without the diacritical.
If I also add the second spelling, it should be fixed. Worth a try. But I cannot restart the server …

I will make the change in the nextdata json file for this also.

Well that should be easy enough to fix. The spelling in the MS edition (and normally in Pali) uses n not retroflex , so you could just change the spelling in the file. The retroflex version doesn’t occur at all in our texts.

I’ve done that in both SC and nextdata and uploaded it, but I still get an error restarting the sc-server so @Blake, can you have a look at that? I’ve sent you the log file some time ago.

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Here is an example when I use the lookup in the bhikkhunī section of SN. SN5.1

34 pm


It should be correct in a little while.