Difference between revisions of "Pronunciation of Sanskrit words"

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A few common appearances:
 
A few common appearances:
*'''kṣa''' like in ''kshatriya'' (the Buddha's caste), '''kṛṣṇa''' like in ''krishna'',
+
*'''kṣa''' like in ''kshatriya'' (the Buddha's caste).
 
* and '''jñā''' like in ''jñāna'' (primordial wisdom). Depending on the area, this is pronounced either "j-nya" (j-nyana) or "gya" (gyana).
 
* and '''jñā''' like in ''jñāna'' (primordial wisdom). Depending on the area, this is pronounced either "j-nya" (j-nyana) or "gya" (gyana).
  

Revision as of 07:36, 6 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. This becomes apparent, e.g. with the word rākṣasa.
  • 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).
  • and jñā like in jñāna (primordial wisdom). Depending on the area, this is pronounced either "j-nya" (j-nyana) or "gya" (gyana).

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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