Friday, November 11, 2005

Making Nouns out of Verbs

To follow up on phyag 'tshal, in many cases the Tibetan language could build a noun from the verb by adding a ba or pa at the end of the verb. So, phyag 'tshal becomes phyag 'tshal ba, a prostration or homage.. mchod is to offer, mchod pa is offering, for example bla ma mchod pa, the Lama offering ceremony in the Gelug tradition, originally written by the fourth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen (kind of first, the first three titles were given posthumously), a very profilic text writer, especially in the Gelug Mahamudra tradition. Anyway, now you know bla ma, from Sanskrit lama.

Offering ceremony in Sanskrit is puja, and you hear this term a lot in the Tibetan tradition.

Back to verbs and nouns, to take another example, sgom is to meditate, and sgom pa is a meditation, Sanskrit bhavana, but it could also mean practice, cultivation, contemplation, and so on.. It's a very flexible word. The verb itself, sgom, means to get used to something, in other words you get used to something by over and over reflecting it in your mind, that's the meaning of meditation..

Anyway, not to confuse this word with the Tibetan word dgon pa, that means temple or monastery!

As for ba and pa letters, expect to see a lot of them in Tibetan texts, they are used to make nouns, and so forth. One trick to learn how to separate words in Tibetan sentences is to learn to see the ending ba or pa letters of a specific words -- this as there's no space in Tibetan, rather those tiny upper-end dots between syllables, called a TSEK.

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