[INDOLOGY] Sanskrit sandhi and pronounciation

Caley Smith smith.caley at gmail.com
Sun Aug 7 19:39:04 UTC 2022

Dear Harry,

I wrote my MA thesis back in 2010 on a possible origin of ah > o sandhi,
from a language typology perspective. I am not certain that I still believe
it---but the premise in short was that if we took Prātiśākhya authors
seriously, then there were ways of pronouncing sandhi h as a velar
fricative before a k(h) and a bilabial fricative before a p(h). So *aśvax
kasya* for instance and* aśvaf pitur. *If so, then sandhi h would be
assimilating to more than just the dental, palatal, and retroflex places of
articulation. What if something like that occurred prior to a voiced stop?
We suspect this might be the case cause of sandhi h > r, which must have
gone through some parallel process to retroflex s, agniṣ, but voiced as a
pre-Vedic *agniẓ. When voiced frication became impermissible in Indic, this
sound became the nearest place-appropriate approximate: r. What if this
happened with voiced fricatives of the other places of articulation? In my
theory *manas+bhih > manav+bhih > manobhih and similarly Vedic hapax sure
duhitar would come from suras duhitar > suraz duhitar > suray duhitar >
sure duhitar. Similarly 3rd pl perfect sedur can be explained as sazduh
with as > az > ay > e before d.

The sandhi ah > o then is simply a leveling of the sandhi outcome before
labials, while the ah > e was eliminated analogically because so many
inflectional endings in Sanskrit are already marked by -e (middles,
locatives, datives, etc.) while final o not from sandhi is incredibly rare
(u-stem voc). The -e ending would have survived in eastern dialects like
Magadhi where it remains as the nom sg. of a-stems.

So why do I no longer fully trust my thesis? Well it is a big theory from a
paucity of evidence and although it was a nice puzzle solving exercise,
there are likely more parsimonious solutions. For instance, what if sandhi
outcomes were conditioned by word-boundaries? My theory treats internal and
external sandhi as essentially the same, but this is an unmotivated
assumption on my part.


On Sun, Aug 7, 2022 at 3:14 PM Harry Spier via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear list members,
>  I asked for an explanation of the sandhi *namaḥ nārāyaṇāya *becomes *namo
> nārāyaṇāya* .
> I.e why *aḥ* before a soft consonent or *a* becomes *o* .
> If it is of interest to anyone, I've found a linguistic explanation of
> this in W.S. Allen's  book:
> on pages 70-71 .
> https://archive.org/download/in.ernet.dli.2015.142366/2015.142366.Sandhi.pdf
> Harry Spier
> _______________________________________________
> INDOLOGY mailing list
> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
> https://list.indology.info/mailman/listinfo/indology
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