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  • Sandeep Prasanna 12:30 pm on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: affirmation, bible, britain, christianity, court, , i swear to tell the truth, india, islam, justice, , , , religion, sharia, swear   

    I swear (affirm?) that I will tell the truth 

    I was watching a Kannada soap opera last night (because I have apparently become an elderly Indian woman as of late) and a scene in a courtroom caught my attention. One of the characters was being questioned, and before she gave her testimony she was asked to declare her intention to speak the truth.

    ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಹೇಳುತ್ತೇನೆ , ಸತ್ಯವನಲ್ಲದೆ ಬೇರೆ ಏನು ಹೇಳುವುದಿಲ್ಲ , ನಾ ಹೇಳುವುದೆಲ್ಲ ಸತ್ಯ |

    satyavannu hēḷuttēne, satyavanallade bērēnu hēḷuvudilla, nānu hēḷuvudella satya

    I will speak the truth; I will not speak anything that isn’t true; everything I say is the truth.

    That segment caught my attention for a couple of reasons.

    First, that the declaration was different from our familiar U.S. oath, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

    But of course it wouldn’t be the same. While an objectively large number of people in India use English as a second or third language (some 125 million according to the latest census, nearly half the population of the United States), that still only comes out to about 10 or 11 percent of the country’s population.

    It would be fundamentally unjust for court proceedings to be carried out in a language with which the parties were unfamiliar — even though that probably happens regularly, since there are only (!) 22 scheduled languages of India and hundreds more unrecognized dialects and minority languages.

    So, okay, the witness’s declaration was taken in Kannada. The action takes place in the state of Karnataka, where the two official languages are Kannada and English, so a witness could plausibly use either language. That makes sense. (Plus, it was a Kannada soap.)

    Another thing that caught my attention was that there was no religious sentiment expressed in the declaration. India is a highly religious country, with upwards of three-fourths of the country declaring that religion is important to them. In the U.S., that rate is a little lower, at 65%, but the most famous form of our witness declaration here does explicitly invoke God — “… so help me God,” a line that is usually delivered, scripted, by court bailiffs, along with a Bible.

    In American law, an oath specifically references God. The OED agrees: an oath is specifically a type of declaration that “invokes God, a god, or other object of reverence.” Those who don’t want to make an oath instead provide an “affirmation,” which starts with “I affirm…” instead of “I swear…” and omits the reference to God. Affirming is referenced four times in the U.S. Constitution as an alternative to swearing, and Britain has allowed affirmations instead of swearing since 1695.

    Regardless of whether you swear or affirm, if you lie, you can be charged with perjury, a serious crime.

    President Obama

    Other declarations abroad

    In Britain, oaths are given slightly differently from the American version:

    I swear by [Almighty God/Name of God/name of the holy scripture] that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    Affirmations in Britain require several more hedges than an oath, perhaps because of a cultural suspicion against people who affirm rather than swear: “I swear to tell the truth…” is such a well-known phrase that any deviance from that — regardless of how legal it is — can be regarded with suspicion.

    In Britain, one doesn’t simply “affirm” — one solemnly and sincerely and truly declares and affirms:

    I do solemnly and sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    In the U.S., one can simply affirm. Atheist and former Governor of California Culbert Olson, in office from 1939 to 1943, famously said to California Supreme Court Justice Waste, “God [can’t] help me at all, and there isn’t any such person.” He chose to say “I will affirm,” rather than “I swear” during his oath of office.

    According to one of my friends in France (hi, Benoît!), the common declaration given by witnesses in France is:

    Je jure de parler sans haine et sans crainte, de dire toute la vérité, rien que la vérité.

    I swear to speak without anger and without fear, to say the entire truth, nothing but the truth.

    My friend writes, “Because France is a non-religious country, there isn’t any trace of God in any institutions.” I’m sure truth is more nuanced than that, but the French people are certainly less religious than the United States. But the word — jurer — used in the oath is similar to “swear.” Jurer usually carries the same valence as the English “swear” (in that it has religious undertones) and it also has the same secondary meaning of “to curse.” But jurer can also translate to “certify” or “pledge,” words that carry no religious undertones in English.

    Another one of my friends, a walking encyclopedia of Islam (hi, Ahmad!), gave me an overview of Muslim declarations of truthfulness. In many majority-Muslim countries, cases that are tried under Shari’ah law (today, usually family law disputes) require an oath to be given by witnesses. However, unlike Western civil courts, the oath is traditionally given after testimony is given. Once the judge collects all the testimony, he asks the parties to swear on the Qur’an or by God that what they have said is true, or else bringing upon them divine wrath. (Incidentally, this traditional oath appeared in the recent Golden Globe-winning Iranian film A Separation, which I highly recommend.)

    Back home

    The U.S. government is explicitly areligious, but a profession of faith is built directly into the common understanding of court procedure. Of course, there’s no law requiring nonbelievers to swear. But it’s undeniably unfair when free deviance from a set religious phrase, scripted and delivered by a court’s bailiff, could color a jury or judge’s perception of a witness. We shouldn’t be suspicious of someone who affirms more than someone who swears, but many of us are.

    Eliminating “I swear…” probably won’t help, but maybe raising the profile of “I affirm…” as an option for nonbelievers (and even believers who object to swearing in a civil setting) will help make the process fairer.

     
    • Dani 9:45 am on January 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      As a nonbeliever, I feel it is far more meaningful to affirm than to swear to an entity in which I do not believe.

      And how is our oath not a violation of separation of church and state?

      • Sandeep Prasanna 1:59 am on February 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        The text of the oath isn’t statutory, as far as I know. It’s only customary. There’s only a requirement that one swears or affirms.

    • Benoit 8:06 pm on January 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Sandeeep!

      Actually, I was not really clear in my quick translation and explanation of the French sence of Justice. So I’ve taken few minutes to think about this topic.
      I do think there is a huge separation between Justice and Religion in France. I guess the Revolution and, maybe deeper with the secular laws under the 3rd republic (1870-1940), the religion was put out of the State and the Justice.

      The French Justice oath are :

      the witness’s one: ” as I said « Je jure de parler sans haine et sans crainte, de dire toute la vérité, rien que la vérité. » which means “I swear to speak without fear and anger and to say all the truth, just the truth”
      the jurys’s one: uses as well the « je le jure. », so “I do swear”.

      But it’s pretty hard to say there is a religious connotations in those two French words. I’ve look around and I’ve realised the word “jurer”, came from the latin “juro, jurare” which means “to take oath” in the law and political sphere, this verb was mostly used toward the emperor/leader more than a religious reference.
      The French Dictionnary I have say “Jurer” (to swear) is actually the verb describing the action of taking an oath, using something or someone as a witness. The dictionnary underlines the fact this person/thing could be a god, a friend, a princip, etc. I guess in the case of the Law Court; witnesses take oath in front of this principle.
      The Dictionnary mentions many other sence of this verb: a religious one “jurer le nom de Dieu” as a blasphemy. ; “jurer” as “saying insults” ; wiktionnary gives nine different interpretation of this verb.

      This topic made me eager to look a little bit deeper in the way France has dvp a very strict seperation between religious principles and Justice.
      http://www.conseil-etat.fr/fr/discours-et-interventions/justice-et-religion-regards-croises-sur-les-systemes-juridiques-francais.html
      in the Cours d’Etat website (the Higher Administrative French Court), I’ve found this résumé of a common UK-Irlande and French conference about links between Religion and Justice. It is said that we could not compare “secularism” (which is, according to Errera an absence of religious reference in the public activities) and “the separation between the State and the Religion” (no organic links between the State and the religious authorities)
      It’s said the US are in the situation where there is a clear separation but no “secularism” in the French sence of “laïcité”, because of the presence of those references in the US State.
      The author said France in the only county (among those 3) using the notion of “laïcité” , placing it in the core of the French Constitution, and applying it in Justice.

      The Law History said the influence of God in Justice ceased with the French Revolution, then with the Napoleanian Code, (which gave us the “Code Civil” we used today -we did renewed it, hum-, and the 3rd repulic as I said which affirmed the “laïcité” principles with differents laws 1901-1905. (But it’s still hard to say precisly when this influence really starts and stopped)

      To conclude about your soap 😉 , I’ve read the part of India which was under the French Influence at the Napoleonian Time : the “French India” , which was mostly composed of portuary towns. So, these town were under the influence of the “Code Civil” of Napoleon since a law of the end of the19th century (this code was secular, and we still use it today), it can explain why the French oath could be closed to the one you’ve seen in your soap.
      By the way Wikipedia says Pondichéry still have a very distinct justice code, close to the French Napoleonian one.
      http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit_en_Inde#La_sp.C3.A9cificit.C3.A9_fran.C3.A7aise

      • Sandeep Prasanna 2:15 am on January 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Wow Benoit, thanks so much for taking the time to write such a detailed response. And thanks for clarifying the French use of “jurer” — it’s interesting to compare how both countries incorporate religion (or don’t) into the law.

    • Martijn Coppoolse 3:18 pm on February 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I think Benoît means “Because France is has a very strict separation of state and religion”. That doesn’t mean there are no religious people in France, just that there’s no reference to God or church in legal documents or official events and procedures.
      (Last year, when watching a remembrance service in the UK, it suddenly struck me that there were both military and clerical officers present. In France, you’ll never see a priest officing at a military event, nor a military in official function in a church).

  • The Diacritics 8:51 am on November 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aimer, , , , , i love you, ich liebe dich, india, je t'aime, love, lust, romance, wo ai ni   

    The language of love 

    (Posted by Sandeep)

    I love my parents, my brother and my friends. I love Duke and our basketball team. I love my law school, UCLA. I love walks along the Eno River in North Carolina at dawn. And I love the opportunities that my family and my education have afforded me.

    I used the same word—“love”—in all of those sentiments, but I didn’t mean the same thing. To be sure, love is a complex, multifaceted idea in any language. But the unique English colloquial use of the word spans many different meanings, from appreciation to liking to lust to romance. To non-native speakers, the protocols around its use are often perplexing. Hell, even for native English speakers, finding the appropriate moment to say “I love x” can be difficult.

    So let’s try to sort these out. Professing unconditional love to one’s family is common in Anglophone cultures. To tell your friends that you love them is fairly common, too. Saying you love abstract or inanimate things, like a university or a leisurely walk, is a common idiom in English, even though the feeling cannot be reciprocated. “Love” is also thrown around flippantly in situations where reciprocation is either unwanted, unspoken or unexpected. We have different situational terms to describe love, such as “platonic” or “unrequited.” “Love” can also be used as a euphemism for physical relations, from the phrase “making love” to the clever substitution of “love” for a certain four-letter word in clean versions of explicit songs.

    But in English-speaking romantic relationships, the moment when someone looks at his or her partner and says “I love you” is a watershed—a fantastically significant event after which everything supposedly changes. Commitment! Soul mates! Indeed, to say “I love you” requires the courageous expectation that the statement and sentiment will be reciprocated. As any soap opera viewer knows, the seconds after that first “I love you” can be agonizing: Will she or won’t she?

    But imagine for a moment that you’re having a whirlwind romance in Paris. You’re at your favorite café waiting for your date. You’re nervous—it’s only the second time you’ve met up—but after you share the obligatory bisous in greeting, you start to feel at ease. Then your date leans over the table, smiles and says, “Je t’aime.” Hold up. Did the L-word just get pulled out?

    Sort of. “Aimer” is used for both “like” and “love,” so its use isn’t surrounded by the sort of momentous protocol that the English verb is. “It is an important phrase for a relationship,” Duke University French lecturing fellow Christelle Gonthier told me, “but a couple can use ‘Je t’aime’ when they’re just starting to go out. In France, there’s not so much restraint as far as feelings go.” This was baffling to me, especially since the epic misplacement of the “I love you” moment is a running motif in American culture.

    Now close your eyes again and imagine that you’re on the hot streets of Bombay, holding hands with your significant other. It’s been a few months since you started dating, but you haven’t yet experienced the “I love you” turning point. Keep waiting, my friend—it’s not going to come.

    In Indian cultures, love can be expressed through actions, but it is almost never explicitly spoken. If it is expressed verbally, it will likely be in English. I didn’t even know how to say “I love you” in my first language, Kannada, until I looked it up online about two years ago. Most of my Hindi, Marathi and Bengali-speaking friends don’t know how to say the phrase, either. I have never felt unloved by my family—it’s just that the explicit articulation of that familial love isn’t part of our style. Sometimes silent demonstrations are more powerful.

    Other languages guard love, too. In Chinese, “wo ai ni” is a well-known phrase, but its use is rare. Germans save “Ich liebe dich” for exclusively romantic situations, preferring “Ich habe dich lieb” (roughly, “I like you”) for platonic relationships. To many cultures, love is an intensely personal and important emotion.

    It’s different here. Despite how puritanical America can often seem, our non-romantic use of the word “love” is laxly enforced. We’re no steamy Latin culture, but it’s heartening to note how freely we distribute “love.”

    To me, the permissive use of the word “love” in English doesn’t devalue the idea. It strengthens it through reinforcement. Even if we aren’t often open with our feelings, maybe the repeated and free use of the word “love” will eventually shift something in our collective consciousness. If the casual use of hateful speech can create pernicious environments, then why couldn’t the casual use of “love” do the opposite?

    After all, who ever said that putting more love into the world was a bad thing?

    A version of this post ran in The (Duke) Chronicle on 2/10/11.

     
  • The Diacritics 9:38 pm on October 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , india, indo-european languages, , panini, , scripts   

    Fun with abugidas (Part 1) 

    (Posted by Sandeep)

    Most major Indian languages can be separated into two major language families–with North Indian languages mainly classified in the geographically diverse Indo-European family (with distant cousins as far-flung as Persian and Irish Gaelic) and the South Indian languages in the Dravidian family, which is mostly limited to the southern part of the Subcontinent.

    Although grammatically and structurally quite distinct, many Indian Indo-European languages and Dravidian languages have some critical elements in common.

    First, the various scripts used to write Indian languages evolved from one script, Brahmi, which has been dated at least to the 3rd century BCE (on the Edicts of Ashoka) and perhaps earlier.

    Despite their common derivation, Indian scripts can look very different from each other.

    Consider the Sanskrit quote I posted a few days ago, written first in Devanagari (used to write Hindi, Nepali, Marathi, among others) and then in Kannada (used to write Kannada, Tulu, Konkani, among others). Sanskrit is now mostly written in Devanagari, but historically it was written in whatever was the script in vogue in various regions of India.

    Pretty different, right?

    The apparent visual differences between North and South Indian languages is often incorrectly conflated with the actual structural differences between Indo-European and Dravidian languages.

    For one, South Indian scripts, such as Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam, are “curvier” than North Indian scripts, which utilize more straight lines. However, this is popularly explained by linguists in India by the different writing media historically in use: ancient South Indians wrote on large dried leaves; straight lines would have punctured the leaves and rendered them useless, so South Indian scripts evolved more curves.

    Whether or not this explanation is true, I think recognizing the common ancestor of the scripts of India is a great (and missed) opportunity to build unity.

    Wikipedia has possible derivations of some letters in some Indian scripts from Brahmi:

    In a nation of 22 officially recognized languages and hundreds, if not thousands, more unofficial languages, linguistic differences are used to divide people. The apparent differences in scripts are a major part of this divisive arsenal–“Oh, look how different Tamil looks from Bengali; they must be so different from me.” Why not use it for the opposite purpose? “It’s remarkable that even though Tamil looks different from Bengali, we share a common ancestor script.”

    Folk etymologies and false derivations are rampant in India–especially because fluid word borrowings, especially from Sanskrit, confuse true linguistic relationships–but this is an actual, demonstrated, linguistically and historically valid commonality.

    A common ancestral script may be a minor thing to note, but Indians could use all the unity they can get, right?

    Alphabets, or why Indians were awesome linguists

    Indians were incredibly awesome linguists. More on this later, but a brief overview: the Aṣṭādhyāyī of Sanskrit grammarian Panini (c. 500 BCE) is the earliest known work of descriptive linguistics anywhere in the world. Still, even Panini refers to older Sanskrit works on grammar. Linguistic ideas are built into the oldest of old Sanskrit texts and Sanskrit morphology and syntactic rules are some of the most complex and most developed of any language in the world, past and present. Four of the six branches of Vedanga (the study of the ancient Hindu texts the Vedas) are linguistic: phonetics, etymology, meter, and grammar.

    In short, Indians were badass at linguistics.

    Part of this badass-ness (badassitude?) came in the form of the organization of many Indian alphabets. Unlike the Latin alphabet, which came to its present order (A, B, C…) through a series of historical serendipities, the standard organization of the Sanskrit alphabet is remarkably systematic.

    Many Indian languages now, even some Dravidian languages (which aren’t structurally similar to Sanskrit), use the exact same organizational chart.

    Consonants are organized in an implicit table. On one axis, consonants are distinguished by the type of closure required for their production:

    kaṇṭhya (velar), tālavya (palatal), mūrdhanya (retroflex), dantya (dental), and oṣṭhya (labial)

    On the other axis, consonants are distinguished by voicing and aspiration:

    aghoṣa alpaprāṇa (unvoiced unaspirated), aghoṣa mahāprāṇa (unvoiced aspirated), ghoṣa alpaprāṇa (voiced unaspirated), ghoṣa mahāprāṇa (voiced aspirated), then anunāsika (nasal).

    So in the first row of consonants, you have velar consonants, beginning with an unvoiced stop and ending with a nasal.

    /k/ /kʰ/ /g/ /gʰ/ /ŋ/

    The pattern continues. At the end of that collection, there are several antastha (approximant) consonants, three sibilants, and a voiced fricative.

    Here is a lovely table, adapted from Charles Wikner’s A Practical Sanskrit Introductory (1996).

    This table is misleading, though, because it’s not quite the exact order that the alphabet is recited in. The consonants ya, ra, la, va, sa, sa, sa, and ha are recited after ma. Here is a better representation of the order, here in Kannada, but without the linguistic tags (Omniglot):

    As far as I’m aware, this order is used more or less in the following major languages: Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Nepali, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Konkani, and Gujarati, among others. Tamil uses a similar, but reduced, organization.

    The Indian obsession with linguistics is built into the very structure of its languages. And it’s awesome.

    [Competition Update: We decided to withdraw ourselves from Grammar.net’s Best Grammar Blog of 2011 competition because we felt that voting was proceeding in an unfair manner. We are no longer participating.]

     
    • alficles 12:21 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sorry to read that you’re withdrawing from the “competition”. While there are technically prizes, the real prize for me was finding a collection of language blogs to look through and add to my feed list. And while the actual voting may be unfair (though I have no idea, first I’ve heard of it), having your site on that list is a benefit to the people who might not have heard of you.

    • Anup 4:58 pm on October 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Sandeep,

      This article is a very nice read! I just happened to search something on google and came across this.
      I was wondering if you have any thoughts/references about my original search (that brought me here). I was wondering if there is some essential differences between the structure of sentences between South Indian and North Indian languages. I started thinking that might be so because of the differences I noticed in the way South Indians and North Indians speak English.

  • The Diacritics 12:57 pm on September 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , afghanistan, buddhism, , hinduism, india, japan, korea, pop songs, , sa ding ding,   

    Same mantra, different language 

    (Posted by Sandeep)

    In 2007, one of China’s biggest pop singers, Sa Ding Ding, released a hit song in Sanskrit — yes, that’s right, the dead liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism.

    Check it out:

    The words are taken from the 100-syllable Vajrasattva Mantra, an important prayer in Buddhism. It’s actually a pretty catchy song. But for Indians with any knowledge of Sanskrit, the words are totally unfamiliar: the Chinese pronunciation of Sanskrit is worlds away from the Indian pronunciation.

    Despite how popular the mantra is, I could only find one video of someone using the Indian Sanskrit pronunciation:

    Compare that to the Tibetan pronunciation:

    Buddhism is truly a remarkable religion in that it dominated in regions as far as Afghanistan in the west and Japan in the east. Not everyone spoke a language similar to Sanskrit, so it was inevitable that adopting peoples would adapt texts in Sanskrit and Pali (another liturgical language of Buddhism) to local pronunciations.

    But Indian tradition places the highest value on the oral transmission of sacred knowledge — ancient Indians were notoriously suspicious of written language, despising it as bad for the mind and for the soul. Because sacred scriptures were transmitted through intricate mnemonic procedures, pronunciation was highly preserved. Vedic Sanskrit was shared from generation to generation as a sort of time-capsule, even as the local vernaculars shifted in vocabulary and pronunciation.

    Sanskrit still holds an important place in Indian culture, especially for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Most Indian languages today (even the non-Indo-European ones) borrow heavily from Sanskrit, most obviously in tatsama (literally, “that-same”) words, which are taken directly from Sanskrit without sound changes. For these reasons, many Indians today have a working knowledge of Sanskrit vocabulary, the pronunciation of which is relatively stable.

    And so we come to the curious case of Buddhism, which grew out of this Indian tradition that placed great emphasis on oral transmission.

    Should Indians really be upset that East Asian Buddhists pronounce Sanskrit mantras differently from the “correct” pronunciation? Prescriptivist Indians would shudder. I’m not so sure. Buddhism is as much “theirs” as it is “ours” — it’s been at least 1,500 years, after all. Some Buddhists would probably argue that the understood meaning of the mantras and their value as meditative devices are more valuable than faithful pronunciation. (Some strict Hindus might disagree; others would agree.) But for those who ascribe mystical power to the words themselves rather than the sentiment behind them, non-Indian pronunciation might pose problems.

    It’s a fun exercise to see the shift in pronunciation from India to far-off lands: consider the Sanskrit term dhyāna, meditation. In Pali, a historical vernacular (and later liturgical language) of India, it became jhāna. In Chinese, it’s chán. Korean, seon. And in Japanese, it’s the famous zen.

    In my native Kannada, we still use dhyāna. Perhaps we’re just old fashioned.

    I’m curious to compare the situation of Arabic — which, of course, has been adopted as a liturgical language in non-Arab Muslim countries — to Sanskrit. Islam requires the use of Arabic in reciting the Qur’an, but are non-Arab pronunciations of the text (say, in Indonesia or Bangladesh) different from Standard Arabic?

     
    • Ahmad 12:02 am on September 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great piece!

      Re: your last question. A trained Qur’an reciter in a non-Arab country will have the correct tajweed (roughly translates to elocution) of the text. Qur’an roughly translates into ‘recitation’ and it is a scripture that is primarily experienced orally with a high emphasis on memorizing it completely. (Little known fact: there are actually 7 surviving canonical pronunciations of the Qur’an) The rules of tajweed, however, and the Arabic language in general, doesn’t have any hard and fast rules for intonation so there are a wide variety of ways that the Qur’an is recited (chanted, sung). Certain regions have developed certain trends in the intonation while preserving the rules of tajweed, so it is possible to guess where a certain recitation comes from based on those trends. However, with the advent of audio cassettes, CDs, satellite television, and mp3s, it’s actually not uncommon for someone in Indonesia or Pakistan to try and imitate the popular Egyptian style or Saudi style of recitation instead of their own homegrown tradition. Not to mention physical Qur’an schools being set up by foreign countries and bringing their own theologies along as well.

      In terms of untrained reciters, i.e. the lay devotee, there are bound to be differences in pronunciation, but this even applies to Arabic speakers as local dialects and even Modern Standard Arabic are not exactly the same as 6th century Qur’anic Arabic. Whether these are ‘correct’ or ‘acceptable’ pronunciations are more of a theological question than anything.

      If you can, I’d recommend the recent HBO documentary “Qur’an by Heart”: Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpO-a8AIz7M

      • The Diacritics 12:33 am on September 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Wow, thanks for your detailed response! I’ll have to read more about regional intonation — it sounds like it could be a very rich topic of study. (And I’ve seen the trailer for that documentary before — I’ll have to check it out soon!) -Sandeep

    • Lane 5:14 pm on September 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Good question about Arabic, but I’d guess something like “no”, though I don’t recall ever hearing a Bangladeshi reading or praying in Arabic. The reason I guess no is the much greater role of Arabic reading learning even among ordinary Muslims, rather than the (as you point out) greater prominence of oral transmission of Buddhism, the filter of Pali for most Theravada Buddhists, and the lesser emphasis on these being the literal words of God dictated directly to a human. Many Islamic circles still strongly discourage translation of the Koran, and there was the case of a man in Afghanistan who put out a Koran in Dari without the corresponding Arabic text alongside, for which he was imprisoned and fined.

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