pronunciation of Sanskrit

zydenbos at zydenbos at
Fri Apr 11 21:24:24 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 10 Apr 97: indology at (bpj at

 bs> From: bpj at (Mr B.Philip.Jonsson [Seeker of Useless
 bs> Knowledge])
 bs> Subject: Re: pronunciation of Sanskrit

 bs> Are there any dictionaries of Sanskrit terms for
 bs> modern concepts?

I have a small Kannada-Sanskrit dictionary which contains some neologisms. I
also know of a pictorial Sanskrit dictionary for beginners with similar words.
My impression is that for typically modern things (auto-rickshaws, buses, etc.)
either English words are adapted, or whatever word is in current use in the
modern language of the region. As for modern abstract terms (hermeneutics,
deconstructionism et al.), they are simply not used.

 bs> Does anyone have any idea of the
 bs> contrastive properties of different Indic languages as
 bs> compared to different western ones?)

I'm afraid this depends on the specific Indian and Western languages in

 bs> I fully agree that the three main points are (1)vowel
 bs> quantity/heaviness, (2)retroflexion, (3)aspiration. [...]
 bs> After all the main thing is that the distinction is not lost. 

 bs> an optimally clear and understandable
 bs> pronunciation that still varies from any native
 bs> pronunciation is often
 bs> preferable to the results of a miscarriaged attempt to
 bs> effect a native pronunciation.

This is indeed the most pragmatic course to take. It may not lead to an elegant
or near-native pronunciation, but it is an important start.

Bhadram bhuuyaat,

- Robert Zydenbos

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