Help needed in Marathi spelling and pronunciation

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at UMICH.EDU
Mon Jan 31 00:39:04 UTC 2000

The standard Marathi developed essentially as standardization of the
dialect of Marathi used by the Peshwas in Pune.  The Peshwas were
Chitpavan Brahmins, migrants from the region of Konkan, and the dialects
of Marathi in Konkan to this day have more pronounced nasalization of
vowels.  In Pune, the written standard Marathi followed the nasalized
Konkan dialect of the Peshwas, though this nasalization was not evident in
the Marathi spoken by the rest of the Brahmins and others in the region of
Pune.  Over time, there developed a recognizable gap between the written
nasalized Marathi and the actually spoken standard of Pune.  For example,
a word for "some" was written as kaa~hii~, with nasalization marked with
Anusvaaras on both syllables.  Now this has been taken out and the word is
written simply as kaahii.  There are good discussions of these issues in
Marathi materials.  I will see if I can locate any English language
discussion of these issues.
        When I learned Marathi writing in schools, I learned it with all
these nasalized spellings, and I had to unlearn these nasalized spellings
a few years ago when I published a book in Marathi about Sanskrit and
Prakrit languages.
                                        Madhav Deshpande

On Sun, 30 Jan 2000, Harry Spier wrote:

> Dear list members,
> A chanting book I have has mostly sanskrit verses but there are some modern
> marathi verses.  In the marathi verses there are words with nasalized
> vowels.  These are indicated in the romanized chanting book by vowels with a
> tilde and in the devanagari version by chandrabindu (or bindu if the vowel
> has a portion above the line).
> Marathi words with nasalized vowel spelling in the verse:
> (a tilde after the vowel indicates tilde over the vowel,
> capital vowel indicates a long vowel, M is bindu, & is chandrabindu).
> Romanized
> transliteration               Devanagari
> karU~                         karU&
> kiraNe~                       kiraNeM
> hame~                         hameM
> bhedo~                        bhedoM
> The pronunciation guide at the back of the romanized chanting book says
> that: "[some hymns] are in Marathi rather than Sanskrit and for this reason
> a tilde (~) over a vowel is used to indicate a nasal sound made at the back
> of the throat with the mouth open; the sound is similar to the ending of
> "hunh" or the nasalized vowels in French."
> But in looking through "The Indo-Aryan Languages" by Colin P. Masica I come
> across these statements about Marathi spelling and pronunciation.
> page 118 of Masica: "Nasalization is absent from ...most Marathi dialects
> (although present in Konkani and retained until recently in Marathi
> spelling)."
> page 437 of Masica: "...[Marathi] recently spelling reformed to bring closer
> to pronunciation of colloquial standard, mainly by dropping unpronounced
> nasals;"
> 1) Can someone elaborate what this "recent spelling reform" is.
> 2) And what would be the pronunciation and spelling of the Marathi words I
> listed in view of this "recent spelling reform".
> 3) Is the Poona dialect considered the standard?  Is it the largest?
> Many thanks in advance,
> Harry Spier
> 371 Brickman Rd.
> Hurleyville, New York
> USA 12747
> ______________________________________________________
> Get Your Private, Free Email at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list