Difference between revisions of "Pronunciation of Sanskrit words"

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* a dot on top for the guttural nasal sound '''ṅ'''. E.g. like in ''wrong''. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the word ''Saṅgha''.
 
* a dot on top for the guttural nasal sound '''ṅ'''. E.g. like in ''wrong''. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the word ''Saṅgha''.
 
* a dot underneath for reflection. In the case of the letters '''ḷ''', '''ṭ''', '''ḍ''', '''ṇ''', '''ṃ''', the difference is too subtle, so we can neglect this and pronounce the letter as if there was no dot.  
 
* a dot underneath for reflection. In the case of the letters '''ḷ''', '''ṭ''', '''ḍ''', '''ṇ''', '''ṃ''', the difference is too subtle, so we can neglect this and pronounce the letter as if there was no dot.  
* The '''ḥ''' is an unvoiced breath following a vowel. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the syllable ''āḥ''.
+
* the '''ḥ''' is an unvoiced breath following a vowel. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the syllable ''āḥ''.
* The '''ṣ''' equals a ''sh''-sound, like in shade.  
+
* the '''ṣ''' equals a "sh"-sound, like in shade.  
* an accent for the palatal sibilant '''ś'''. The sound is basically the same as for '''ṣ''', i.e. a ''sh''-sound, like in ''fresh''. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the words ''Śūnyatā'', ''Śākyamuni'' or ''Śāripūtra''.
+
* an accent for the palatal sibilant '''ś'''. The sound is basically the same as for '''ṣ'''. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the words ''Śūnyatā'', ''Śākyamuni'' or ''Śāripūtra''.
 
* a tilde for the palatal nasal sound '''ñ'''. This sounds equals ''ny'', like in ''canyon''.  
 
* a tilde for the palatal nasal sound '''ñ'''. This sounds equals ''ny'', like in ''canyon''.  
 
* consonants followed by an '''h''' are slightly more aspirated, but the difference is subtle.
 
* consonants followed by an '''h''' are slightly more aspirated, but the difference is subtle.

Revision as of 11:50, 5 August 2016

Since the Sanskrit alphabet consists of a number of letters and sounds that do not exist in the Latin alphabet, certain additional signs, so-called diacritics are required in the Latin script for the representation and transliteration of these sounds. In Sanskrit each letter represents one and only one sound. In English the letter a for example may indicate many sounds (e.g. fat, fate, fare, far) but not so in Sanskrit.

There are five different kinds of diacritical signs:

  1. a horizontal line on top of a vowel. E.g. ā
  2. a dot on top for the guttural nasal sound
  3. a dot underneath a letter. Eg.
  4. a tilde for the palatal nasal sound ñ
  5. an accent for the palatal sibilant ś

Pronunciation:

  • a horizontal line on top of a vowel (e.g. ā) indicates a long vowel. Long vowels are held for about twice the length than their corresponding short vowels. E.g. a is pronounced like the "u" in "but", and ā is pronounced like the "o" in "mom" or as in "harm". This becomes apparent, e.g. with the words Tathāgata or Padmākara. Here, the emphasis lies on ā.
  • e, o, ai, and au can be counted as long vowels and thus the vocal length is prolonged as well. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the word Vairocana. Thus, ai and o are held longer than the two following short a's.
  • is counted as a vowel in Sanskrit. The sound of is a combination of "r" followed by a short "ee"-sound, e.g. as in "rich", unlike "reef". This becomes apparent, e.g. with the word Amṛta.
  • a dot on top for the guttural nasal sound . E.g. like in wrong. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the word Saṅgha.
  • a dot underneath for reflection. In the case of the letters , , , , , the difference is too subtle, so we can neglect this and pronounce the letter as if there was no dot.
  • the is an unvoiced breath following a vowel. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the syllable āḥ.
  • the equals a "sh"-sound, like in shade.
  • an accent for the palatal sibilant ś. The sound is basically the same as for . This becomes apparent, e.g. with the words Śūnyatā, Śākyamuni or Śāripūtra.
  • a tilde for the palatal nasal sound ñ. This sounds equals ny, like in canyon.
  • consonants followed by an h are slightly more aspirated, but the difference is subtle.

A few common appearances: kṣa like in kshatriya (the Buddha's caste), kṛṣṇa like in krishna, and jñā like in jñāna (primordial wisdom).

Overview

a but not bat
ā harm not ham
i pink
ī peep
u put
ū boot
rich
table
e mess
ai aisle or pie
o beau
au down or hound

References

  • Source: This presentation is partially based on Charles Wikner's A practical Sanskrit Introductory and Sanskrit für Anfänger by Thomas Lehman.

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