INDOLOGY FAQ. Re. Varanasi

Deshpande, Madhav mmdesh at UMICH.EDU
Tue Feb 16 13:15:22 UTC 2010

I agree that it is important to have diacritics on romanized Sanskrit to ensure at least the graphic representation of Sanskrit sounds.  That however does not assure its pronunciation.  I remember attending the meetings of the AOS in old days where American Sanskritists  pronounced the Buddhist tathatā as "tatata" with all alveolar 't's and no distinction of vowel length, and mahābhārata as "mabarata" with no aspiration for 'b', alveolar 't', and of course no distinction of vowel length.  On one of these occasions, my guruji Prof George Cardona was so fed up, that he could not take the barrage of "tatata" and walked out of the room.


Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-1608, USA
From: Indology [INDOLOGY at] On Behalf Of Dominik Wujastyk [wujastyk at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 7:15 AM
Subject: Re: INDOLOGY FAQ. Re. Varanasi

On 15 February 2010 22:45, george thompson <gthomgt at> wrote:

I agree about publishers, George.  Like many on this list, I'm sure, I've
had my share of arguments with publishers about accents.  I've found it
helpful to draw an analogy with French or German.  It wouldn't be acceptable
to print those languages without their accents, and nor is it acceptable for

You said,

> I would also like to complain about a decision that was made by the editors
> of the Clay Sanskrit Library.  This is a great and valuable collection of
> translations, but I think that they made a bad decision when they chose to
> ignore diacritic marks in their translatons.

There's lots to discuss about the various Clay decisions, but one thing I
quite like is the use of the acute accent to mark stress or ictus.  While
ictus isn't the same as vowel length, it's pretty close to gauravam, and
people who know nothing of Sanskrit and don't have access to a teacher do
rather well reading such accented words out loud.


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