Pronunciation of vocalic R in south India

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed Nov 25 06:21:29 UTC 1998

In a posting last year related to Jayadeva, Jakub Cejka wrote

"As I have underlined above, I wrote vocalic R  *was* pronounced 'ri' in
Orissa. Of course I know it is not so now. I have checked this with an
Oriya scholar �. He informed me that "ru" pronounciation (together
with other southern influences) came later on to Orissa (evidence is in

There is some evidence showing that the pronunciation of vocalic R as "ri" was
not unknown in Tamilnadu around 9th century AD as shown below.

ciliGkArattAl kuzal tAza viTTu             (PeriyAzvAr tirumozi

Here the Sanskrit word zRGgAra is rendered in Tamil as ciliGkAram. If one
allows for the usual r-l alternation, cannot one can postulate that R > ri >

S. Palaniappan

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