Dukkhakkandhassa syllibication

Hi! Small linguistic question: If one has to divide word dukkhakkhandhassa, which is the correct way to do it? dukkha-kkhandhassa or dukkhak-khandhassa? I’m working with Pali-Finnish chanting book and due to nice line break I want to hyphenate this word.


I am not aware of any standard way that would be required by Pāḷi grammar as regards hyphenation, but “double consonants are pronounced as two distinct syllables, with a noticeable pause.” Since in English a word should be divided on a double consonant, one would probably need to hyphenate following your second example. I always hyphenate duplicated Pāḷi consonants in this way.

My understanding is that traditionally when Pali was/is written down on palm leaves words are simply broken where they reach the end of the page. Saves some non-zero amount of space I guess. Also makes the edges look clean.

Words get transformed when joined together so either way you split it looks slightly odd. Splitting between the kk may make more sense for chanting.

By the way, @Vajramitra, did you know the main interface for the main website has been translated into Finnish?


I’m an amateur on this, but I found the discussion in the Chanting Book on Thanissaro Bikkhu’s site dhammatalks.org quite useful. I don’t know how standard the following is, but the 717 Chanting Book on Bhikkhu @Sujato’s https://lokanta.github.io/ uses text derived from that book, so it was helpful for me to read the discussion when trying to master the Maṅgala, Ratana, and Mettā Suttas during lockdown.

In this book, wherever possible, many of the long compound words have been broken down with hyphens into their component words to make them easier to read and—for anyone studying Pāli—to understand. This creates only one problem in scanning: When the hyphen is preceded by a consonant (usually m or d) and followed by a vowel, the consonant forms a syllable together with the vowel following the hyphen and not with the vowel preceding it. Thus, for instance, dhammam-etaṁ would scan as dham-ma-me-taṁ, and tam-araṇaṁ as ta-ma-ra-ṇaṁ.
Pronunciation | A Chanting Guide

Here’s an example of the word from the OP…

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Just checked the Wat Pah Nanachat Chanting Book to refer to some more or less standard publication for chantings in the West; they separate on the double consonant, although not as a line break.

SBS does the same:

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Interesting; can you refer to one or the other discussion on the matter? In whatever shape or form … Thanks!

Right. I would add that to spilt after the vowel, before the double consonant, would actually undermine the correct pronunciation. If one would follow the hyphenation as a guide for chanting in this scenario, the pronunciation would be, in fact, that of a single consonant. Not sure if I am missing something, but, on this ground, I now think that it is incorrect to hyphenate dukkha-kkhandhassa.

I think it is talked about in one of the first few results.

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Just definitely don’t split in the middle of an aspirated consonant (kh, dh, etc) :grin:

Good advise, bhante. :grin:

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Thank you for comments! I’ll suggest to our small translation team to hyphenate before double consonant.

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I’ll promise not to do that! :sweat_smile:

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Do you mean “on” or “before”?

Out of further curiosity, I also searched an edition of the Samantapāsādika from the PTS as a sample of their hyphenation approach. Therein, they seem to follow the standard way as it is done in English. Below in the highlghted part, one can see that they hyphenate on the double consonant.

My preference is the former, because the sound shift goes like this
Sanskrit ‘skandha’ > Pali ‘kkhandha’ > Pali khanda (k dropped if it is in word-initial position).

So treating the ‘k’ before the ‘kha’ as part of the second word would be etymologically correct.

Dukkhak is not a sensible word and such a split should be avoided.

Oh, sorry, I meant on!

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Yes, all the ‘k’s should stay together!

If one was pronouncing it, which is the purpose of the chanting book, then surely it’s duk-khak-khan-das-sa

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I’m not sure what the syllable ‘khak’ would represent?
Surely it’s dukkha + khanda, as mentioned above the extra k represents the ‘s’ fallen away from the Sanskrit.

I believe we see the same thing with Dhammacakkappavattana, Sanskrit would be Dharmacakrapravartana, the ‘p’ doubled to represent the missing ‘r’.


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Yeah, you’re both right. Stephen is approaching it from the etymological perspective and Ven @Pasanna from the perspective of e.g. Thai phonetics and orthography. As mentioned previously, in traditional manuscripts they’d just break whenever they hit the end of the page, so there’s really no “wrong” answer here (except for the aforementioned breaking up of an aspirated consonant, which really should be treated as one letter that just happens to be written with two glyphs in the Romanization)


khak doesn’t mean anything, I agree.
In the context of reading the text for meaning, rather than chanting I would agree to break before the -kkha.

However, I was recently at another monastery, with their chanting book, and found it near impossible to sight-chant words which were broken on non-syllable breaks. I would have preferred it unhyphenated.

So we need to ask what is the purpose of hyphenating in this context? The topic is about syllabication. Hence my answer.


Well, from this request the answer seems to be the former.
If the word needs to be broken up into syllables to aid pronunciation, I think it would be