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A list of key readings about Pali.
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  • The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, 1996, ISBN 0-8617-1103-3. See p. 17, "The Relationship between Sanskirt and Pali" and p. 47, "The Pali Language".
  • The Pāli Language, T. Y. Elizarenkova and V. N. Toporov, Nauka, Moscow, 1976

Learning books

  • A Pali Reader with Notes and Glossary, by Dines Andersen ... 1901-7: selected practice passages, mainly from the Jātaka commentary; intended for those who already have a basic knowledge
  • Introduction to Pali, A. K. Warder, London: Luzac for the Pali Text Society, 1963: graduated introduction to the canonical language as exemplified in the Dīgha-nikāya, which it tries to cover completely (not 100% successful); mostly follows Aggavaṃsa's grammar
  • Pali Buddhist Texts Explained to the Beginner, Rune E A Johansson, 1st edition 1973, 2nd edition 1977, 3rd edition 1981, Curzon Press: short selections from the Canon with full linguistic explanations; each is independent of those before


  • A Compendious Pali Grammar, with a Copious Vocabulary in the Same Language by the Rev. Benjamin Clough ... 1824: [1]: based on the Bālāvatāra
  • An Introduction to Kachchayana's Grammar of the Pali Language; with an Introduction, Appendix, Notes, &c by James d'Alwis ... 1863: [2]; Kaccāyana (in the now standard spelling) wrote the first surviving Pali grammar, which is still the standard introduction in the tradition
  • A Pali Grammar on the Basis of Kachchayano, with Chrestomathy & Vocabulary, by Francis Mason ... 1868: [3]: a "translation" into the way grammars are written in the West; hampered, as he admits, by faults in the (Burmese) manuscripts available to him; he notes differences in Clough and d'Alwis, suggesting they're probably more correct
  • [4]: French translation of Kaccāyana, 1871
  • Handbook of Pāli. Being an Elementary Grammar, a Chrestomathy, and a Glossary. Compiled by O. Frankfurter ... 1883: [5]
  • A Simplified Grammar of the Pali Language, by E. Müller ... 1884: [6]
  • A Practical Grammar of the Pali Language. By Charles Duroiselle ... 1906 [7]
  • Pali Grammar, Wilhelm Geiger, Pali Text Society, 1994; extracted and revised by K. R. Norman from Pali Literature and Language, 1943, translated (with revisions by the author) by Batakrishna Ghosh from Pali Literatur und Sprache ([8]), 1916: not confined to canonical Pali; doesn't cover syntax
  • Pali Grammar by Vito Perniola S. J., published by the Pali Text Society, Oxford, 1997: canonical language, but doesn't cover the whole Canon
  • Indian Philology and South Asian Studies ... Pāli: a Grammar of the Language of the Theravāda Tipiṭaka, Thomas Oberlies, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York, 2001
    • Expanded edition: Pāli Grammar. The language of the canonical texts of Theravāda Buddhism, 3 volumes, Pali Text Society, 2019- , in progress: the fullest study of the canonical language, attempting complete coverage (not 100% successful); the Netti and Peṭakopadesa are covered because of their "close proximity to the canonical texts", but the Milindapañha is not, because its language is, "in many respects, remote" from the canonical language; the method is typical of Western scholarship, trying to explain the evolution from Sanskrit
  • Kaccāyana, Pali Grammar: vol 1, complete text; vol 2 translation: Ashin Thizana, 2019; review


  • A Dictionary of the Pali Language. By Robert Cæsar Childers ... 1875, [9]: largely based on a "native" dictionary, the Abhidhānappadīpikā
  • The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary, ed T. W. Rhys Davids and William Stede, 4 fascicles, 1921-5, reprinted in 1 volume: covers only texts published in the West by then, i.e. most of the Canon and a selection of others: [10] / [11] (the Pali Text Society has authorized non-commercial copying of this book, which is still in copyright)
  • A Critical Pali Dictionary, V. Trenckner, Dines Andersen, Helmer Smith et al., 1924-2011, 33 fascicles, reprinted in 3 volumes, Pali Text Society: the most detailed dictionary, but abandoned about quarter through
  • Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, G. P. Malalasekera, 2 volumes, India Office, 1937-8: [12]
  • English-Pali Dictionary, Ven. A. P. Buddhadatta, 1955, Pali Text Society
  • A Dictionary of Pali, Margaret Cone and Martin Straube, 4 volumes, Pali Text Society, 2001- , in progress