Grammatical question about sandhi

I have a grammatical question: how can I know when the final vowel of a word must be long or short?

I make an example:

“Atthi, bhikkhave, tadāyatanaṁ, yattha neva pathavī, na āpo, na tejo, na vāyo, na ākāsānañcāyatanaṁ, na viññāṇañcāyatanaṁ, na ākiñcaññāyatanaṁ, na nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṁ, nāyaṁ loko, na paraloko, na ubho candimasūriyā. Tatrāpāhaṁ, bhikkhave, neva āgatiṁ vadāmi, na gatiṁ, na ṭhitiṁ, na cutiṁ, na upapattiṁ; appatiṭṭhaṁ, appavattaṁ, anārammaṇamevetaṁ. Esevanto dukkhassā”ti.

In this context, the word “dukkhassā” has the final vowel long for the sandhi with iti (meaning the end of a direct speech), so when it is extracted from sandhi the final “a” became short.

But in other cases could there a word ending with long vowel that has to remains such. An example: 'sabbe dhammā anattā’ti. In this case, the final vowel of anattā remains long also when extracted from sandhi with iti.

So, how is possible to distinguish when the final vowel of a word must remains long and when it must be converted into short?

Looking the word in question up in the dictionary will tell you the form without sandhi or case ending.

(You will need to know the proper case endings for the class of nouns the word is part of)


Thanks. In these cases, for example, the final vowels, which are long in the original, must be converted into short vowels, right?
sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā’ti (aniccāanicca);
sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā’ti (dukkhādukkha).

While in this case, ‘sabbe dhammā anattā’ti, anattā remains with the final vowel long.

Have I properly understood the mechanism?

When a word comes up against the end quote marker iti (ti) “thus”, the final vowel is lengthened. If the the word happens to end in a long vowel, like anattā, it cannot be further lengthened.

(For your above examples, keep in mind that ‘sankhārā’’ is plural.)


Just to have a confirm: it is correct saying that “aniccā” in ‘sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā’ti when abstracted from the sandhi with iti become “anicca”, with the final vowel short, and the same occurs to “dukkha” in ‘sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā’ti?

I’m not sure I follow you entirely but,
the adjective ‘anicca’ (the negated form of the word ‘nicca’) needs to match in number what it is describing, in this case ‘sankhārā’ which is masculine nominative plural.

For instance, there is the famous phrase in the Mahāparinibbāna sutta,

Aniccā vata sankhārā

I hope you are following a systematic study of Pāli, then these questions should clear up.

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