Prep for Bhante Sujato's course by starting Warder

Sorry, didn’t mean to be importunate. I understand the venerable has many demands on his time.

But I really cant wait another day to hear the Dharma directly. I started this morning with Warder.

Let me know if I’m out of line, this is only a tentative suggestion: I’d be glad to share progress and go over the chapters, at the rate of a bout 1 a week, in a Zoom room. (Warder suggests the first 16 chapters should be covered in 12 weeks, so the pace is not unreasonable).

I don’t pretend to be fully qualified to lead this, but I have had many years of language teaching experience (PhD in Classics) and am on the home stretch of teaching myself Sanskrit, so I can certainly answer grammar/syntax questions and suggest effective learning techniques. Enough to ease the passage for someone who isn’t used to learning languages. I’ll keep a few chapters ahead; that wouldn’t be the first time I taught a course on that basis, and not only language courses!

My approach is very practical and no-nonsense. I can tell you what parts of the Warder book you need to memorize and how well you need to know them. Digha Nikaya ASAP!

Tentatively, I would try this on Thursday evening the 16th March, in the afternoon or early evening Manhattan time. Let me know if you want to try it.


Of course I would yield the floor if someone more qualified were to present themselves.

To give an idea of my approach, the first step is to perfectly memorize the alphabet, with vowel changes and that versatile little m embedded in the memorization. Infinite time is wasted if you need to check a chart every time you want to use the glossary or pronounce a word with one of the n’s in it.

I would stick with Warder but supply his lacks from Gair and de Silva.

But week one would just be alphabet and pronunciation. That’s so key and so commonly neglected.


I’m only offering this as a “head start” for those who are planning on taking Bhante Sujato’s class, not as a substitute. Before I try and set up a Zoom meeting, I’ll post a few videos on the alphabet so you can see my approach, Here are the vowels:


A post was merged into an existing topic: Who wants to learn Pali?

Here’s the consonants, Next video will deal with the semivowels, then we’ll try out our alphabet skills in Warder. At that point we’ll be ready for a Zoom meeting.

Pali Consonants


I can hear you saying the vowel sounds very clearly.

I like what you’ve done with the places of articulation; nice and easy for beginners to get a handle on.

But I suggest that you reconsider the aspirated sounds. These are all the sounds (phonemes) written with an h in Pali. Pali doesn’t pronounce th and ph as they’re pronounced in English.

In all the Pali sounds (phonemes) written with two letters for one sound (digraphs) the h indicates that the sound is produced with a lot of breath: so that kh sounds different from k etc You might want to describe these sounds as ‘breathy’.

Anyway, the thing to be aware of is that no sound in your matrix sounds the same as another. (This becomes really important later when we want to tell the difference between very short words.)

First practice saying each of the consonants with and without breath. This is difficult for English speakers but not for speakers of many other languages. There are no real English equivalents for the Pali aspirated phonemes but it helps to consider how Anandajoti has given a best shot in this regard here The Pronunciation of Pali
Here’s one example:

I’ll see if I can get someone who can pronounce these really clearly to let me record them doing so.

Keep up your good work. :grinning:


Great post Gillian, thanks for the link to Ven Anandajoti’s work.

The aspirated consonants are hard for us westerners to wrap our heads around. I think this is why we see Bhikkhu Bodhi’s name misspelled so often!

I might add that in my experience, staring to learn Pali using Warder is a very daunting task!
Most will greatly benefit from a ‘soft launch’ using some of Pali Primer, and maybe Gair and Karunatillake as well.


Thank you for the correction on the aspirates! I will correct this in the next video. But I would say that in actual practice I pronounce kh gh ch jh .th .dh th dh ph bh exactly like k g c j .t .d t d p b. To add the extra gust is a lot of effort for a difference that I find either overstated or undetectable. But I will make it clear that it’s a choice and I am favoring the less scrupulous option.

Warder needs to negotiated carefully. He’s of a school of philology that’s very concerned with historical phonology, and includes many reflections that are irrelevant to the student who just wants to read the texts and understand their meaning. A student without a wider background is likely think it’s all important, and will founder in pages of material that can be skipped. In the next video I will show the path through Warder’s jungle.

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So do I Jake, I have to admit !!! But I’m continuously trying to do better and pronounce the way that Steven and Sujato do.

With respect, I don’t feel that it is a choice to teach something incorrectly. I think it’s a case of “don’t do as I do; do as I tell you”. Especially if the purpose is to warm people up to study with Bhante Sujato.


The best recommended textbooks are

Lily de Silva


and Gair

Bikkhu Bodhi teaches from de Se Dilva and Gair, Ven. Sujato favors Warder.


Here’s a link to the resources at BAUS. With @stephen’s excellent beginner video classes and Bhikkhu Bodhi’s as well.


Please note that the Pali word ‘Bhikkhu’ starts with an aspirated labial, bh.


34 posts were split to a new topic: Pali Pronunciation: Aspiration and Gemination

I’m copying this post from Ayya back here because it seems useful to Jake and his cohort. :pray:



I am surprised that the Learn Pali channel has a good video on pali pronunciation! I’d been refusing to click on it, because his Pali pronunciation is soooooo terrible. He uses the Seeing Speech Lab to show how the sounds are formed in the mouth.

EDIT: Here’s the link, working, that Ven @Pasannā linked to:

So, @Jake, this guy admits to having a bad Pāli accent like we do :hugs: :rofl:. So his solution of using the visuals from the Uni of Glasgow is great, imho. Some of the things he says aren’t absolutely correct from a linguistic point of view, but I would say (as a retired language teacher educator) that there’s enough info in the recording for the average Pāli reader, and that the sounds are presented clearly enough for absolute beginners to learn from, if they focus on small sections at a time. What do you think?

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