Fluency of Pali

To what level do most buddhists who are proficient in Pali learn it?
Do they analyse the sentences grammatically and then find out what it means, or do they just read the pali fluently like english for example?

Is there a big gap between learning to slowly analyze it and read it fluently?

All the best to all of you.


The speed of learning a new language varies enormously depending on someone’s previous experience in learning foreign languages; research shows that the more languages a person already knows the faster they gain extra ones. Likewise with grammar, those who’ve already got theoretical knowledge of grammar will get into much more than someone who’s learning basic grammatical concepts at the same time as Pāli.


Speaking for myself, it depends. If it’s familiar context, which for me is especially the sutta prose, I just read it. If there’s something I don’t get, I check a translation first of all, and then go back and analyze the grammar if need be. Verse is always tougher, and I will often check it against translations just to make sure.

If it’s an unfamiliar context, then you take it slower and parse the text consciously. Often the vocabulary is the harder part; in Vinaya or Abhidhamma, there is an extensive and very precisely defined set of technical terms. While I am generally familar with much of it, I still need to check things. Commentaries even more so, and I always feel that there I am quite struggling with unfamiliar terminology.

But to be sure, it’s not as fluent as a fluent spoken language.


Ok, thanks. :slight_smile: