Re: [INDOLOGY] Pronunciation of jñ

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at
Mon Jan 15 22:17:59 UTC 2018

Tim Lubin's account is generally fine.  The typical Marathi pronunciation
of jñ is indeed dny today.  However, in the language of the countryside,
one also hears "gyānabā" for Jñāneśvara.  The dny pronunciation
occasionally results into ny for some speakers.

Madhav Deshpande

On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 2:07 PM, Lubin, Tim via INDOLOGY <
indology at> wrote:

> Dear Harry,
> /jñ/ is has been a very unstable sequence in India for a very long time,
> and its varying treatment can be traced in part through Prakrits (see
> Pischel’s *Prakrit Grammar,* §88, §119, §303).  Already, in Aśoka’s
> edicts we see a simple (very rarely doubled) /n/ (Kalsa in N, Dhauli in E)
> or /ṇ/ (NW and far south) or /ñ/ (at Girnar) in forms like *ānapayati* or
> *āṇapayati*, ‘orders’ (cf. Sanskrit *ājñāpayati*), with [n] or [ṇ];  Pali
> has /ñ/ (pronounced [ny]) initially and /ññ/ medially.
> One can sum up by saying that the initial /j/ has a tendency to disappear,
> or to survive in a minimal way in western India as an unexploded /d/ — that
> is, the beginning of a /j/ = [dzh/ without the fricative which is dropped
> before the [ny], OR realizing the /j/ with a velar stop instead.
> The options by region, generally, seem to be [gy] with or without
> accompanying nasalization much of the Hindi belt, [dny] in Maharasthtra and
> thereabouts, and either [ny] or [gn]/[kin] in the Tamil sphere, where an
> epenthetical vowel is inserted to break up the cluster.  This also happens
> in northwestern India, where we get Ismaili works called *ginān* (<
> jñāna) from Sindh, Gujarat, and Panjab.
> What does NOT seem to happen much is what Westerners today most often
> produce: j + epenthetical vowel + n
> The regional variation is discussed (too) briefly on p. 78 of:
> Chatterji, Suniti Kumar. 1960. ‘The Pronunciation of Sanskrit’. *Indian
> Linguistics* 21, 61–82.
> In my edition of the *Nīlarudropaniṣad *(p. 87), I use the Maharashtrian
> pronunciation as diagnostic to identify the origin of a particular variant
> reading in the text:
> E1%B9%A3ad_and_the_Paippal%C4%81dasa%E1%B9%83hit%C4%81_A_
> Critical_Edition_with_Translation_of_the_Upani%E1%
> B9%A3ad_and_N%C4%81r%C4%81ya%E1%B9%87as_D%C4%ABpik%C4%81
> I discuss the Prakrit and Tamil reflexes of the jñ conjunct a bit here as
> well (on pp. 425–426):
> Best,
> Tim
> Timothy Lubin
> Professor of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Law
> Chair of the Department of Religion
> Chair of the Middle East and South Asia Studies Program
> 204 Tucker Hall
> Washington and Lee University
> Lexington, Virginia 24450
> From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at> on behalf of
> INDOLOGY <indology at>
> Reply-To: Harry Spier <hspier.muktabodha at>
> Date: Monday, January 15, 2018 at 4:01 PM
> To: INDOLOGY <indology at>
> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Pronunciation of jñ
> Dear list members,
> I've been asked about the pronounciation of the conjunct jñ .
> Coulson writes:
> "jña: the pronounciation of this varies wid is that it is a palatalisation
> so to speak en bloc of an original gn,  In some places, for instance, it is
> like gya, in others dnya. . . . The point about jñ is that it is a palatal
> isation so to speak en bloc of an original gn.. . . . Perhaps the most
> approprate of the modern pronunciations to adopt is therefore gnya which
> (by adding y to gn) thus crudely represent a palatalisation."
> 1) Is jña  ever pronounced in India as jnya and if so where?
> 2) where in India are the different pronounciations Coulson lists (gya,
> dnya, gnya) located?
> Thanks,
> Harry Spier
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