`real' Sanskrit vs `conversational' Sanskrit

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at umich.edu
Fri Apr 18 19:31:05 UTC 1997

The pronunciation of 'Jaina' as 'jane' is interesting indeed.  Clearly
there was a lot of dialectal variation in the pronunciation of the
diphthongs.  I have discussed some of this variation in my forthcoming
edition of Shaunakiiyaa Caturaadhyaayikaa (HOS, 1997?).  The coloring of
the components is an interesting issue.  For example, while most southern
speakers cannot distinguish between vaiyaakara.na and vayyakara.na, notice
the Pali veyyaakara.na.  This is a sign of some old dialectal coloring. 
For Patanjali, the constituents of e and o are fused with each other
(pra"sli.s.ta), while the constituents of ai and au are not so fused. 
These two are called samaahaaravar.na, groupings of vowels.  But for
Patanjali, the constituents of ai and au are viv.rtatara "more open" than
their independent occurrences.  This is, in my opinion, not the case with
the modern south Indian pronunciation of ai and au, where the initial a
seems, if anything, shorter and less open than the normal a.  In any case,
modern regional pronunciations of Sanskrit are more closely connected with
the regional vernaculars, than with anything inherited from Patanjali.
		Madhav Deshpande 

On Fri, 18 Apr 1997, Jacob Baltuch wrote:

> >In addition to Prof. Deshpande's observations, I have also noticed a
> >"North Indian" pronunciation of ai as different from the "Dravida"
> >pronunciation. But here I observe something different than Prof.
> >Deshpande... I have noticed the word jaina pronounced "jane". (We
> >"Dravidians" tend to give the dipthong its full pronunciation)
> >cheers, Chandan Narayan.
> It seems to me that the main thing distinguishing the prononciation
> of the diphtongs 'ai' or 'au' compared to the sequence 'a-i' and 'a-u', at
> least in the theoretical pronunciation of sanskrit, is that the *color*
> of the first element of the diphtongs is that of *long* 'a' whereas the
> color of the the 'a' in 'a-i' and 'a-u' is that of short 'a'.
> Indeed, as far as I know long 'a' and short 'a' are not only distinguished
> by length but also by vowel color. (Apparently this is the meaning of
> Panini's shortest sutra? At least that's what Coulson says)
> Note I'm *not* saying that the first element of 'ai' and 'au' is long, only
> the vowel color is the same.
> Is that correct?
> (Of course another thing distinguishing in principle a diphtong
> from a sequence of vowels in hiatus is that the vocal chords are
> supposed to continue their vibrations thru the modification of
> color in the enunciation of a diphtong, whereas in a sequence of
> vowels there is a global readjustement which implies at least a
> very light interruption of the vibrations of the vocal chords.
> Phoneticians please don't kill me if this is wrong :)

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list