# Sandhi

# The first section

# Rule 1

The meaning of all words can be understood only by means of letters (words). Verily, in case of corrupt letters, the correct meaning of words is difficult to know. Therefore, having the skilled knowledge of letters, (i.e. grammatical knowledge) is of much benefit in (the study of) texts.

# Rule 2

Those “a” and so on, amounting 41 letters, called the alphabets akkharā are of great benefit in (the study of) Pali texts.

What are those alphabets ? They are:

  • a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o

  • k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, c, ch, j, jh, ñ, ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, t, th, d, dh, n, p, ph, b, bh, m, y, r, l, v, s, h, ḷ, ṃ

These are called “the letters” akkharā. What is the benefit by mentioning akkharā? It has the benefit of making easy reference in Suttas such as “Attho akkharasaññāto”.

# Rule 3

Of those forty-one letters, the eight vowels, beginning with letter “a” and ending in “o”, are called vowels sara. What are those vowels ? namely: a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o

# Rule 4

Of those eight vowels, the three vowels which have a short duration of utterance are called short vowels rassa. What are those short vowels ? namely: a, i, u

# Rule 5

Of the eight vowels, the other five vowels are called long vowels dīgha, which have a longer duration of utterance. What are those long vowels? namely: ā, ī, ū, e, o

# Rule 6

Excluding the eight vowels, the remaining thirty-three letters beginning with “k” and ending in niggahita “ṃ”, are called consonants byañjana.

# Rule 7

Of those consonants, the letters beginning with “k” and ending in “m” which are grouped together in fives of each, are called the groups “vagga. What are those groups ?

k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, (This group is called Ka-vagga)

c, ch, j, jh, ñ, (This group is called Ca-vagga)

ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, (This group is called Ṭa-vagga)

t, th, d, dh, n, (This group is called Ta-vagga)

p, ph, b, bh, m (This group is called Pa-vagga)

“ṅ, ñ, ṇ, n, m” are formally called the end consonants of the group vagganta, also called “nasal stops” (vagga/group + anta/end). Knowing and understanding these groups and their end-consonants will help in under­ standing some of the complex morphological procedures which will be explained in this grammar.

# Rule 8

The letter “ṃ” is called niggahita.

A niggahita is represented by the consonant “ṃ” in the Romanized Pali. It is called “niggahita” as it has to be uttered or sounded out through nasal pas­ sage by having the necessary parts of the mouth which serve as a mechanism of the speech or spoken sound such as lip etc, gently pressed while at the same time other parts such as tongue, teeth, etc, remain inactive during the enunciation process.

It is called Niggahita as it is uttered being based on short vow­els, also because it is spoken with the act of enunciation (karaṇa) the sources of voice (ṭhāna) being repressed. Here, the root “gaha” prefixed with an upasagga particle “ni” means to press and to restrain.

This sound of dot is said by restrained act of utterance, with mouth (lips) kept unopened. So, this “dot” is called “niggahita” which used to depend on (three) short vowels.

The niggahita is usually found joined on top of only three rassa (short) vow­els “a, i, u”. It is called an “anusvāra” in Sanskrit. Some grammarians view it as a semi-vowel as well as a semi-consonant as it is interchangeable in the morphological procedure of Pali grammar.

# Rule 9

Any grammatical term such as “ghosa or aghosa” and so forth, which are used in other Sanskrit grammar texts, can also be applied here in this Pali grammar as and when ap­propriate and applicable.

Of those terms, the following are called “ghosa-voiced or sonants”: g, gh, ṅ, j, jh, ñ, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, d, dh, n, b, bh, m, y, r, l, v, h, ḷ.

Those called “aghosa-unvoiced, or surds” are: k, kh, c, ch, ṭ, ṭh, t, th, p, ph, s.

# Rule 10

There, when wanting to conduct the grammatical procedure of Sandhi (Euphonic combination of words), the preceding front consonant has to be put below and make it vowel-less by separating it from its attached vowel and keep the sepa­rated vowel above. For example, “- Tatrā’ya’mādi”

This Sutta sets the rule to separate the conso­nant from vowel it is attached to before performing any morphological procedure such as eliding, shortening, lengthening or changing into other forms of syllables etc., can be carried out properly. The functions prescribed in Sutta 10 and 11 are two important fundamental proce­ dures of the morphology in the Pali grammar.

Example: Tatrā’ya’mādi. (Here, three words “Tatra, ayarn and ādi”, are combined in a Sandhi).

See ‘the apostrophe marks shown as a sign of Sandhi). In this example, the point of Sandhi is shown by apostrophe mark ’. Please carefully note this mark as all sign of Sandhi will be shown by this mark throughout this book. Note that there are two points of Sandhi in this example, one between trā’ya and the other between ya and mā.

Now, it will look like this when all the combined words are separated: Tatra+ayam+ādi (3 words. 2 Point of Sandhi being separated are shown by + sign)

Note: The separation process of consonant from vowel as prescribed by this Sutta may seem quite irrelevant in Romanized letters as they are already sep­arated. In Pali written in Devanāgari or in Burmese etc., it is quite relevant and necessary as the vowels are usually written by being joined in one single letter comprising both a vowel and a consonant.

# Rule 11

The vowel-less consonant being kept below , should be re­-attached to the rear (next) letter when appropriate, (i.e. after all due morphological procedures have been done). This Sutta sets the rule to re-attach the sepa­rated consonant to the next vowel after any necessary morphological procedure such as eliding, shortening, lengthening have been done.

  • [CS] Tatrā’bhirati’m iccheyya. (3 words, CS means combined in Sandhi) (Meaning) Tatra-at that three kind of tranquility, abhiratirii-joy. iccheyya-(one) should prefer, i.e. One should prefer enjoying at that three kind of tranquility, peace.
  • [SS] Tatra+abhiratim+iccheyya. (SS means Sandhi Separated, 3 words)

Morphological Explanation of Example [ME]

[ME] Here, Sandhi is between two points where bold-faced letters with a plus sign are shown. The steps to make these separated words of Sandhi to be recom­ bined into a perfect Sandhi.

Now let’s study the necessary morphological procedures on the first point of Sandhi:

  1. First the initial “a” in front of the plus sign is to be elided as per Sutta 12. It then looks like this: Tatr+abhiratim+iccheyya.
  2. Then the next “a” is to be lengthened by procedure as prescribed in Sutta 15. It now becomes > Tatr+ābhiratim+iccheyya.
  3. By procedure of this Sutta 11, the vowel-less “r” is then to be at­ tached to next lengthened “ā” > Tatrābhiratiih+iccheyya.

Now let’s work on the second point of Sandhi:

  1. “m” is to be changed into “m” by the procedure as per Sutta 34. It then becomes > Tatrābhiratim+iccheyya.
  2. By procedure of this Sutta 11, “m” is to be attached to next vowel “i”. Now finally morphed form is > Tatrābhiratimiccheyya.

Thus through all due procedures as shown in these Suttas, it becomes a complete word. The students do not need to remember all this. They just only need to learn how morphological procedures as said in the Suttas are carried out in the various stages of evolution of the Pali words. This will help them learn the structural patterns of the word and gain some insight into the language patterns and achieve mastery of language to some degree, which in many ways can greatly benefit in the study of Buddhist texts written in Pāli. Keep in mind that the role of Sutta 10 and 11 are always necessary as far as the study of morphological procedures of words are concerned in the Pāli grammar.

# The second section