Pali-French dictionary project

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Dear Dhamma Friends,

As actually the Pali resources available in French are very rare, I undertook the task of making a Pali-French true dictionary to help the French students who want to study the Pali.

So I’m looking for the most recent, complete and accurate list of Pali words (with correct wording and diacritic signs, and free from typo or printing errors) and their correct English translation, and also looking for the VRI Pali dictionary : ideally an electronic file under a format on which I can work easily on the French translation.

After that, my work (dhamma dana) could be used to print a book (what I plan to do) or to be implemented in an online dictionary or so.

So I come to you hoping that you can help me, and I thank you in advance.
I wish you an excellent happy new year and send you much metta.

(I posted the same message in 3 other Pali discussions, sorry for any inconvenience)


Hi Ro (is that the right way to address you?), congratulations on your project, I hope it succeeds.

The first thing is the scope of your project. Since you aim to get words and definitions, I think what you want is the New Concise Pali-English Dictionary. This was created by for SuttaCentral, with most of the work done by @Russell .

  • The basic source is Buddhadatta’s Concise Pali-English Dictionary
  • The first half of the entries are corrected according to Margaret Cone’s Dictionary of Pali.
  • It focusses on words found in the Tipitaka

We are waiting until the remainder of Cone’s dictionary comes out, then we will continue with the letters after N.

Our dictionaries are in JSON and will easily support translation.


Hi Sujato,

Thanks for your quick reply !

Yes, what I want to do is a “concise” dictionary, not as detailed as the PTS ones, but with maximum words in one volume and very “user friendly”. This French dictionary is intended mainly for the “beginners” ; then, when they become better in Pali and want to work with references, they can go to the large PTS ones.

Did Russell worked also with the VRI dictionary ? It’s said a very good resource based on Tipitika CSCD.

I don’t know how to use JSON (I’m familiar with MS-office & Open-office) : could you please explain how to get a clean XLS or ODS file (sorted properly in columns) from the JSON source, in which I can add a column where to put the French translation ? Thanks.
If JSON format is better, please explain how to use it and how to add the French translation easily. Thanks a lot. :slightly_smiling_face:

PTS said that the 3rd volume of CONE’s is going to be published in the next 2 months, and the 4th volume within the 3-4 coming years.



Sādhu! Sādhu! Sadhu! May this be a support and adornment for your mind!

in mettā,


Greetings Russ, Nice to see you :slight_smile:


Greetings Roger.B and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

Regarding multiple postings, it does create a bit of confusion for the site, as we archive all topics, and it is best if they are all on track and all comments are in one place.

I’ve deleted the other posts you made. As you did here, it is by far the best solution that you make a new topic. So far there had only been a few likes and no comments made so I deleted the posts rather than merge a repetitions of the posts here :slight_smile:

You had like by @Gabriel_L @sabbamitta and @Nimal

If you need anything or we can assist in anyway please let any of the Moderators know. We have little half sheilds next to our names and can be PM’d or tagged in post by putting an @ sign in front of our names

Metta and Karuna :slight_smile:


Do not forget about 3 other little dictionnaries

Dictionnaire pâli-français du bouddhisme originel, Michel Henri Dufour, éd. les Trois Monts, 1998
Vocabulaire pâli-français des termes bouddhiques, Ñânatiloka Mahâthera, Adyar, 1961, rééd. 1995
Petite liturgie pâli pour les bouddhistes. En guise d’introduction aux écritures bouddhiques et à leur langue originelle, Gabriel Bittar (à paraître)


I’m not familiar with this, do you have a link or reference? Usually the concise dictionaries are based on Buddhadatta, and I would be surprised if the vri had compiled a new one.

Using the json source is simple in a spreadsheet. The fields in json can be thought of as the columns in a spreadsheet, and they can be converted back and forth easily enough. The crucial thing is that the work be done in some kind of structured form, not just a mass of text.

I’m on a phone now, so I’m limited in what I can do right now. Hopefully someone will pop by and help you.


Hi Njeul,

Thank you. I have the 2 first little books, but I don’t know the 3rd one : has it been published yet ?
Yet, these 2 books in French have an inconvenient : they’ve not much entries (3.000 for the Dufour’s).

So my will is to make an up-to-date true dictionary in French with the maximum of entries (30.000 ?) and that can serve aside the PTS ones.

Hopefully, since the CHILDER’s (1st dictionary) the scholarship advances and we can now benefit from the recent studies of VRI (Vipassana Research Institute in India and of Dr Margaret CONE, which both update the knowledge of the Pali language.


Nice to see you again, Viveka! :pray: Glad you’re here! Awesome that you’re a mod for SC. Much merits to you! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts::heart_eyes:Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!


Hi Roger,

I hope your project will succeed. Let me know if I can help you. To convert a json file into a spreadsheet is easy with the help of a small script I can write for you.

There is a very complete sanskrit-french dictionary by Gérard Huet, avalaible online : Héritage du Sanskrit Dictionnaire sanskrit-français. I don’t if this information is of any help :slightly_smiling_face:


Welcome to the forum @Hojo :slight_smile: Many thanks for your post, and we look forward to seeing you around :slight_smile:


All the best on your project. Do you, or any others, know of any online sources or sites for Pali suttas already translated into French?


The well known La parole du Bouddha

some site about the forest tradition

and the famous IEB which has classes on theravada and non-theravada

and there is the Visuddhimagga in french
Le Chemin de la pureté, transl. by Christian Maës, Editions Fayard, Paris 2002


Hi Hojo,
Thanks for your offer. Yes, I will appreciate your help. :wink:


Hi Sujato :

You posted this file
in this thread Implementing the New Concise Pali English Dictionary
and that is exactly what I’m looking for to check the database I compiled.

(JSON is useless for me, and I find that a simple spreadsheet (ods, xls…) is much more convenient to work on and to be updated.)


Merci beaucoup!


Use the latest npced.json file for your source, we have fixed a number of errors.

Converting to spreadsheet is trivial.


Thank you for the clarification.
But “Trivial” is only for the ones who know… :neutral_face:
I tried several times with Calc or Excel, but could not succeed (and I loose my time)… Could you please explain me how to convert it ? Thanks a lot. :wink:

What is the interest of a JSON file ?
What software do you use to read, modify and save it ?
Why a spreadsheet format haven’t been kept from the beginning ?


Hi Roger,

I converted the JSON file to an Excel file with 2 columns.

I tried to remove as much HTML as possible but there are still a few HTML markings here and there (notably for the lists <li>, because it might help you identify when there is such a list of definitons indeed).

Here is the file (had to zip it to upload it on Discourse…): (461.8 KB)

FYI: I used this website to convert from JSON to a text file: JSON To CSV Converter. And then some regular expressions to remove all the JSON and HTML formatting. There might an easier and cleaner way to do it though… no idea…

Hope it helps!