An old question

Jacob Baltuch jacob.baltuch at EURONET.BE
Fri Jul 17 21:41:22 UTC 1998

D.H. Killingley wrote:

>If a Tamil speaker uses voiced/voiceless and aspirated/unaspirated
>oppositions in pronouncing stops in Tamil, could they not be said to have
>a 'Sanskrit accent?'

It depends on how you use the word "accent".

I'd prefer to say they used a "Sanskritized" type of pronunciation
*in Tamil*. Their accent (the way I was using the word, that is their
phonology, phonetics, and more: intonation, rhythm, the way all of
the above interacts with syntax, meaning, style, situation, etc., in
other words the sum total of their speech habits) is still a Tamil
accent, but a (particular) Tamil accent that has included some
Sanskritized pronunciation features.

If you travelled in time, brought back someone (an adult) who spoke
Sanskrit as a native language, taught them Tamil, now that would be
someone who spoke Tamil with a Sanskrit accent. And I think it is
not unreasonable to conjecture that there'd be much more to their
Sanskrit accent (that would distinguish it from an un-Sanskritized
Tamil accent) than simply using a few additional phonological distinc-

I wonder if you think that the English scholar of Latin, who consciously
and rigorously applies the rules of the so called "scientific" pronun-
ciation to his Latin, can be said to pronounce Latin with a "Latin accent"
in the same sense that Caesar or Cicero pronounced their Latin with
a "Latin accent".

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