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Dharma Farm Summer 2023 
Beginning Classical Tibetan: 
Verbs, Grammar, and Beyond

Teacher: Craig Preston

Course length: Sixty-four hours, June 5-August 4 

64 Class hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9:00am-11:00am PDT

First four weeks: Monday June 5-Friday June 30

One week mid-course break: July 3-July 6

Final four weeks: Monday July10-Friday August 4

Zoom room: TBA.

Zoom Office hours: TBA.

Cost: $1,600.

Scholarship aid available. Space is limited.

Course Description

This course covers all of First Year Classical Tibetan.
tes: None; some prior experience with Tibetan and Buddhist philosophy would be helpful. 

  1. Classical Tibetan’s phonemic and lexical dimensions.

  2. Recognizing recurring patterns in syllables, words, phrases, clauses, and sentences.

  3. How verbs anchor clauses and sentences, Wilson’s descriptive classification of eight classes of verbs, morphology of verb forms, compound verb syntax, and verb-noun hybrids called “verbals.”

  4. Declension: how the eight cases signify relational meanings for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and noun phrases.

  5. Beyond declension: lexical particles and how the range of syntactic particles also signify relational meanings.

  6. Recognizing elements of Tibetan syntax in Tsong-kha-pa’s Summary of the General Path.

The first part covers the grammar of Classical Tibetan as found in the Tibetan translations of Indian treatises translated from Sanskrit, and in the Tibetan philosophical works on those treatises. The second part applies what has been learned about Classical Tibetan syntax to reading a short passage at the end of Tsong-kha-pa’s Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path. Our method of teaching Classical Tibetan translation is systematic, detailed, and has proven effective over 20 years of teaching.

Ways to Enjoy This Course

  • Some students are looking for a detailed explanation of how Classical Tibetan signifies meaning because they are becoming Tibetan translators or thinking about Grad School in Buddhist Studies.

  • Some students want to be exposed to this material so they can better understand their own practice texts.

  • And of course we welcome students who want to come hear about how Tibetan works in an adult education, have fun kind of way.

Course Materials

Wilson, J. (1992). Translating Buddhism From Tibetan. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Preston, C. (2005) How to Read Classical Tibetan, I: Summary of the General Path, Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Course packet, tba


Recommended Materials 

Hackett, Paul G. (2003). A Tibetan Verb Lexicon, Second Edition. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.


Download the course syllabus.

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