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THE Sanscrit language is written in the character called Devanagari. The following are the Devanagari letters, with their equivalents in the Roman character.
Observe that ar and ār are not distinct letters, but have been inserted amongst the diphthongs for reasons that will be afterwards apparent. That the semi-vowels have been placed in both Tables, as falling under the first, in their relation to i, u, ri, lri; under the second, in their relation to j, d, d, b. That h at the end of a word stands for Visargah (:). That when n is found before the semi-vowels y, v, r, l, the sibilants sh, sh, s, and the aspirate h in the middle of a word, it represents the symbol Anuswāra ; and that m at the end of a word always represents the same symbol. That the vowels and will be represented by ri and rī, as distinguished from fɩ ri and ↑ rì, which represent the consonant combined with the vowels and 7. Lastly, that i the palatal sibilant will be represented by sh, as distinguished from sh, which represents the cerebral sibilant ч.
ON THE METHOD OF WRITING THE VOWELS.
The vowels assume two forms, according as they are initial or not initial. Thus, ik is written, but ki is written fa; short i, when not initial, being always written before the consonant after which it is pronounced. Short a is never written, unless it begin a word, because it is supposed to be inherent in every consonant. Thus, ak is written, but ka is written; the mark under the final k being used to shew that it has no a inherent in it. The vowels u, ū, and ṛi, rī, not initial, are written under the consonants after which they are pronounced; as, a, ku, kū; ā, ā, kri, krī.*
†The Sanscrit is said to possess another vowel, viz. ri, which has not been given, as it only occurs in one word in the language. The only use of introducing it in a Table like the above, is to shew the perfection of the Devanagari alphabet; for without it, we have no corresponding vowels or diphthongs to the semi-vowel ; but, with it, the last line of the Table may be filled up thus,
* When, however, u follows it is written thus, ru; and when u follows, thus, rū.
ON THE COMPOUND CONSONANTS.
Every consonant is supposed to have short a inherent in it, so that it is never necessary to write short a except at the beginning of a word. Hence, when any of the above simple consonants are seen standing alone in any word, short a must always be pronounced after them; but when they are written in conjunction with any other vowel, this vowel of course takes the place of short a. Thus, such a word as would be pronounced kalānatayā. The question then arises, how are we to know when consonants have to be pronounced together, without the intervention of any vowel; as, for instance, kl and nty in the word klāntyā? This occasions the necessity for compound consonants : kl and nty must then be combined together thus,,, and the word is written क्लान्त्या. And here we have illustrated the two methods of compounding consonants, viz. 1st, by writing them one above the other; 2dly, by placing them side by side, omitting in all, except the last, the perpendicular line which lies to the right. Almost all compound letters are in this way resolvable into their component parts. There are two, however, which are not so, viz. ksha and jna. The last is commonly pronounced gya, and may therefore be represented by these letters. The following
compound letters, being of very frequent occurrence, and not always obviously resolvable into their parts, are given with a view to attract the first attention of the student. He may afterwards study the list in Prof. Wilson's Grammar.
kta, as in the word uktam; rma, as in the word kūrma. And here remark, that when r is the first letter of a compound consonant, it is written above in the form of a semicircle; when it is the last letter, it is written below in the form of a small stroke, askra in the word kramena. Again, shcha, as in tatashcha. Here remark, that sometimes changes its form to, when combined with another consonant. tra, as in tatra; chcha, as in
bhya, as in : tebhyah;
anyachcha; shta, as ddha, as in gf buddhi;
dya, as in
tta, as in
: suhrittamāh; vya, sya, as in
ncha; nda; nta.
PRONUNCIATION OF THE VOWELS.
The following English words, written in the Sanscrit character, will furnish the best clue to the pronunciation of the vowels.
A as in the first and last "push "; ū as in
"Roman"; ā as in, "last"; ¿ and è as in
syllables of इन् वलीद, “ invalid "; was in पुष्, "rude"; ri as in, “rill"; rī as in "chagrin"; e as in , "ere"; o as in , "so"; ai as in, "aisle"; au as ou in, "our"; ar and ar as in the words "inward," "regard."
Since short a is inherent in every consonant, the student should be careful to acquire the correct pronunciation of this letter. There are a few words in English which will afford examples of its sound, such as Roman, temperance, husbandman, tolerable. But in English this sound is often represented by u, as in fun, sun; or by o, as in done, son; or even by the other vowels; as by e in her, vernal; by i in bird, sir. fection of the Devanagari alphabet, as compared with the Roman, is at once apparent. Every vowel in Sanscrit has one invariable sound, and the beginner can never be in doubt what pronunciation to give it, as in English, or whether to pronounce it long or short, as in Latin.
PRONUNCIATION OF THE CONSONANTS.
The consonants are in general pronounced as in English. But g is always pronounced hard, as in give: th is not pronounced as in English, but is only t aspirated, and, when rapidly enunciated, hardly distinguishable from t. The same reniark applies to the other aspirated letters. The true sound of th is exemplified by the word anthill; so also ph, by uphill, which might be written 3. The cerebral class of consonants only differs from the dental in being pronounced with a duller and deeper sound. Each class of consonants has its own nasal; thus the sound ink would be written in Sanscrit ; the sound inch, ; the word under अण्डर् ; the dental n would be written in the word country, pronounced as in Ireland; the sound imp would be written. So, also, three of the classes have sibilants peculiar to them. Thus the final sibilant of the word
word cha, must be written
tatas, when combined with the tatashcha; when combined with
za ṭīkā, must be written with tam, must be retained letters, h, y, r, l, v, is plainly referrible to its particular class. The his pronounced from the throat, and therefore allied to the guttural class. They belongs to the palatal class, and in Bengali is always corrupted into j. The is allied to the cerebral letters and, and in Bengali these letters are often hardly distinguishable from in sound. The is evidently a dental. The, although partly dental, belongs to the labial class; and is so allied to b, that, in Bengali, it is always pronounced like b, and, in Sanscrit, is often interchanged with it.*
i tatasḥṭīkā; when combined tatastam. So also each of the
† It may here be remarked, that although the column of nasals in the Table of Consonants (p. 1) has reference to the sibilants, aspirate, and semi-vowels, as well as to the other consonants; yet the mark Anuswāra (*) is the proper nasal of these letters, and must always take the place of any other nasal that may be combined with them in the same word. Thus the preposition and the participle, when united in one word, are written संस्मृत; सम् and हार, संहार; सम and राग, संराग; and so on. But in every one of these cases the Anuswara takes the sound of the nasal of the class to which the following letter belongs. Thus is sounded as if written सन् स्मृत; संहार as if written सङ् हार; संलाप as if written सन् लाप. For the sake of brevity, however, the Anuswara is, in many books, written as the representative of the nasal of any letter, and not merely of the aspirate, semi-vowels, and sibilants.
* In Sanscrit, however, the letter is always pronounced either like v or w; like v when it stands by itself, or as the first member of a compound consonant, as inva, vyādha; like w, when it forms the last member of a compound consonant, as in dwāra.
"an universal monarch," and, "properly," are the only words which violate this rule.