Pronunciation of short a

Swaminathan Madhuresan smadhuresan at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 27 14:44:04 UTC 1999

 > {..} on  the  issue  to  the  pronunciation  of  the  short  "a"
 >in  Sanskrit  and  the  vernacular  Indian  tongues,  we  might  want
 >to  consider  Sinhala.  The  Sinhalese  are  the  only  people  I  have
 >seen  pronounce  the  short  "a"  distinctly  either  without
 >unwarrantedly  elongating  it,  suffixing  it  or  cutting  it  short
 >(as  though  there  is  a  halant)  as  the  North-Indians  do.  In
 >short,  you  will  hear  them  pronounce  the  word  "Arjuna"  as
 >"Arjuna"  and  not  as  "ArjunA",  "Arjunan"  or  "Arjun".  Perhaps,
 >the  Sinhalas  are  the  only  "Northern  Indic"  peoples  who  are
 >truly  free  of  the  modern  "Hindi"  influence  which  reaches  down
 >(as  one  of  you  pointed  out)  well  into  the  Andhra  and  Karnatak

 > {..}  Next  time,  hear  the  Sinhalese
 >pronounce  Sanskrit  words.  In  fact,  just  hear  the  Sinhalese
 >speak  their  own  language,  the  short  "a"  is  very  clearly
 >audible  and  it  is  so  pleasing  to  the  ear.

   Briefly: the "n" endings are added only when sanskrit nouns
   are tamilized. Tamil grammar requires it. Tamils do not say
   with a final "n" when they read Sanskrit either in grantha or nagari.
   Ie., they pronounce "Arjunan"  while reading Tamil texts only. But, it is
   "arjuna" when they recite Skt MBh, with a clear final "a". Tamil BrAhmaNa
   traditions of preserving Vedas and later Sanskrit is justly world famous.


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