Encyclopedia > Pali

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Pali is a middle Prakrit language. It is most famous as the language in which the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism were written down. Pali has been written in a variety of scripts, from devanagari to Lao and other Indic scripts, through to Romanised (western) form.

It is debatable whether Pali was ever a spoken language. A significant number of scholars maintain that it was a purely literary language devised from a number of Indic dialects, Magadhan[?] being mentioned as one of the most likely ancestors.

Today Pali is studied mainly to gain access to Buddhist scriptures, and is thus frequently chanted. The Pali Text Society[?], based in the United Kingdom, has since its founding in 1881 been a major force in promoting the study of Pali. The society publishes these scriptures both in Romanised Pali and in English translation.

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