This book is intended and serve as an introduction to the reading of Pali texts. For that purpose, it uses authentic readings especially compiled for the purpose drawn largely from Theravada canonical works, both prose and poetry. The reading area in Roman script, and carefully graded for difficulty, but they have also been selected so that each of them is a meaningful and complete reading in itself, so as to introduce some basic concepts and ways of thought of Theravada Buddhism.
This book thus offers an opportunity to become acquainted with the ways in which the teachings of the Buddha are embodied in the language, a sense that it is impossible to determine from English translations. The book contains 12 lessons. Each of them has three parts: (1) a set of basic readings and an accompanying glossary, (2) grammatical notes on the forms in the less, and (3) a set of further readings with its own glossary. The further readings introduce no new grammatical points but reinforce ones already presented and give further practice to them. The work concludes, fittingly, with the Buddhaês first sermon, The Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta. A cumulative glossary and index to the grammar are also provided.
The text has been used successfully in its preliminary form at several universities, but it may also be used for self-study.
James Wells Gair (December 27, 1927 – December 10, 2016) was an American linguist who specialized in the languages of South Asia. He is best known for his work on Sinhala, much of which was done in collaboration with W. S. Karunatillake. Other languages on which he worked include Pali, Tamil, and Dhivehi.