Re: [INDOLOGY] Pronunciation of jñ

David and Nancy Reigle dnreigle at
Wed Jan 17 16:23:19 UTC 2018

No one has yet replied to this part:

"1) Is jña  ever pronounced in India as jnya and if so where?"

Yes, I have heard it so pronounced by a few different pandits from
different locations. Unfortunately, I did not take note of who or where,
but I definitely recall hearing this even on a few different YouTube
recordings. This was a big question to me, so I am sure of my memory about
the fact of it, if not the particulars.

I was impressed early on by the scientific arrangement of the Sanskrit
alphabet (guttural to labial), and by the idea that each letter would
always be pronounced the same in any occurrence (quite unlike the English
alphabet). So when I saw gyana for jñāna, I was surprised. I, too, wondered
if some Indians did pronounce the jña as jnya, and took special note to
watch for this.

While jña is not easy to pronounce as jnya at the beginning of a word like
jñāna, it seems to be easier within a word, such as ājñā. If it can be done
within a word, it can be done at the beginning of a word. And this is
indeed what I heard from these few pandits.

Perhaps these few pandits that I heard were trying to restore what they
thought was the correct pronunciation. I somehow got this impression, but
could easily be wrong about this part. In any case, such pronunciation does
exist in India today, at least by a few pandits.

Best regards,

David Reigle
Colorado, U.S.A.

On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 1:59 PM, Harry Spier via INDOLOGY <
indology at> wrote:

> 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,
> Vasishtha
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