Dharma Data: Pali

An Indian language in which the Pali Tipitaka, the sacred scriptures of the Theravada school of Buddhism is written. The name Pali literally means “text” i.e. the language of the text. According to ancient scholars the language’s original name was Magadhi. Magadha being a kingdom in which the Buddha spent many years. Scholars are divided on whether Pali was actually the language of Magadhi or that it was spoken by the Buddha. However it is quite possible that the Buddha spoke several languages and even if he did not speak Pali he certainly spoke one very similar to it.

W. Geiger, Pali Literature and Language, Calcutta, 1943.
K.R. Norman, “The language in which the Buddha taught” in Buddhism and Jainism, Part 1 edited by H.C. Das, (et al) 1976.