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There is no known complete work in this language; however, several scholars specializing in Indology such as Sten Konow, have argued that Paiśācī was the ancient name for Pāli.
Many Theravada sources refer to the Pali language as "Magadhan" or the "language of Magadha".
It is widely studied because it is the language of much of the earliest extant literature of Buddhism as collected in the Pāli Canon or Tipiṭaka and is the sacred language of some religious texts of Hinduism and all texts of Theravāda Buddhism.
This language thus reflects the thought-world that the Buddha inherited from the wider Indian culture into which he was born, so that its words capture the subtle nuances of that thought-world.
It is found grouped with the Prakrit languages, with which it shares some linguistic similarities, but was not considered a spoken language by the early grammarians because it was understood to have been purely a literary language.
In works of Sanskrit poetics such as Daṇḍin's Kavyadarsha, it is also known by the name of Bhūtabhāṣa, an epithet which can be interpreted as 'dead language' (i.e., with no surviving speakers), or bhuta means past and bhasha means language i.e. Evidence which lends support to this interpretation is that literature in Paiśācī is fragmentary and extremely rare but may once have been common.
According to the Pali Text Society's Dictionary, the word seems to have its origins in commentarial traditions, wherein the Pāli (in the sense of the line of original text quoted) was distinguished from the commentary or vernacular translation that followed it in the manuscript. Both the long ā and retroflex ḷ are seen in the ISO 15919/ALA-LC rendering, Pāḷi; however, to this day there is no single, standard spelling of the term, and all four possible spellings can be found in textbooks. In the 19th century, the British Orientalist Robert Caesar Childers argued that the true or geographical name of the Pali language was Magadhi Prakrit, and that because pāli means "line, row, series", the early Buddhists extended the meaning of the term to mean "a series of books", so Palibhasa means "language of the texts".
to the vernacular spoken in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, which was located around modern-day Bihār.