INDOLOGY FAQ. Re. Varanasi

Christian K. Wedemeyer wedemeyer at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Feb 18 16:41:53 UTC 2010

On Feb 17, 2010, at 2:15 PM, Benjamin Slade wrote:

> The pronunciation of "f" for "ph" is a wide-spread phenomenon among  
> (some) speakers of Indo-Aryan languages; e.g. Hindu/Urdu _phal_  
> "fruit" is sometimes rendered by native Hindi speakers as _fal_,  
> _phir_ "then" as _fir_, _phul_ "flower" rendered as _ful_ (Hindi  
> films like to play with the resulting homophony with the English  
> borrowing _ful_ "fool"...).As far as I can tell, these are all  
> hypercorrections:

(I'm not a linguist, so excuse any clumsiness:)

But, are these labiodental fricatives, like the English f, or bilabial  
(as, for instance, in Japanese)? I would suspect the bilabial version  
(which is what I have heard, I believe, in Northern India and Nepal),  
which is similar in articulation to a voiceless aspirated labial. In  
that case, rather than "hypercorrection," might this perhaps be due to  
a more general, systemic phonetic change (possibly stimulated by  
contact with Perso-Arabic speakers)? Or is this not a useful  

(Sorry, I'm with Allen...gotta get some more coffee...)

Christian K. Wedemeyer
Assistant Professor of the History of Religions
University of Chicago Divinity School
1025 E 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
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