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Journal of Contemporary Social Sciences and Humanities



Understanding the Pali Canon through Keyword Analysis: A Comparison between Different Reference Corpora

  • Chirawan Sukwitthayakul, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Saneh Thongrin, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand, *Corresponding author, Email: saneh.t@arts.tu.ac.th


This study was to conduct keyword analyses on the English Pali Canon and compare keywords generated by four different reference corpora which varied in genre and size. The software AntConc 3.5.9 was employed for analyzing and generating the keyword lists. Two node corpora were compiled using samples from two English translations of the Pali Canon and the reference corpora were the node corpora themselves, a collection of other religions’ canons, the Manually Annotated Sub-Corpus (MASC), and the British National Corpus (BNC). It was found that the numbers of keywords were the highest when BNC, which was the largest and more general, was used as the reference corpus. The results were compared to select the keywords that recurred at the top of most, if not all, keyword lists. It can be seen that, regardless of the reference corpora, most of the top keywords were nouns referring to people or characters in the Pali Canon, such as the Exalted One, brethren, Gotama, and Ânanda as these names and words were not frequently found in other texts. The comparison of reference corpora can help researchers find the most appropriate reference corpus and ensure the selection of keywords in the creation of a Buddhist wordlist for further research.

Keywords: Keyword Analysis, the Pali Canon, Corpus Analysis, English for Specific Purposes, Digha Nikaya

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DOI: 10.14456/rjsh.2022.13


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