Saturday, November 12, 2005

Grammar - LA Particle

OK, a little bit Tibetan grammar now. Something you will notice very shortly is that Tibetan words are very short, and in addition, there are all kinds of small binding words that tie together structures on the left and right side of this word. Stephen Hodge calls them particles, and I like this term -- the particles create relationships between word entities, like gravitational particles. For some used to more formal grammar defitions they could also be considered prepositions.

Anyway, the first important thing to know is that the particle points at a relationship to a word or sentence before the particle. Or, when you see a particle, look at the word or sentence structure to the left of it. Also, it binds something that follows the particle, to the right of the particle word. This is the reason why it's in many cases good to read Tibetan sentences backwards...

The la particle is not exactly the easiest one to learn, but we need this shortly to build a complete sentence based on the words we learned before. It's a so called Oblique Particle, it kind of points at something else, a direction, hint, alias, redirection, and so on. A simple start is to substitute la with to, and see what happens, and in some cases you need to use another English word, such as for, regarding, on, in, by means of...

Here are some examples: sangs rgyas la, to Buddha. If you add a verb at the end, you get something like sangs rgyas la phyag 'tshal lo, I prostrate to the Buddha (or Buddhas, there's no direct plural definition in sangs rgyas, but it's assumed one prostrate to many Buddhas, or only one, again depending to the context...).

Let's take another example, this time without verbs, as we have not gone through many of them yet, sems chen thams cad la, towards all sentient beings.

chos la, to dharma, or in the dharma. A variation might be chos zab mo la, in the profound dharma.

There are many other variations and cases, but this is a start concerning the la particle. Don't worry, we will encounter la many times in future.

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