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THE Sanscrit language is written in the character called Devanāgarī. The following are the Devanāgarī letters, with their equivalents in the Roman character.
Observe that ar and är 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, Iri; 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, 1, 1, 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 fi ri and ů rī, which represent the consonant q combined with the vowels į and i. Lastly, that the palatal sibilant T will be represented by sh, as distinguished from şh, which represents the cerebral sibilant q.
ON THE METHOD OF WRITING THE VOWELS. The vowels assume two forms, according as they are initial or not initial. Thus, ik is written 39, but ki is written fan; 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 0, but ka is written a; the mark under the final k being used to shew that it has no a inherent in it. The vowels u, ū, and ri, rī, not initial, are written under the consonants after which they are pronounced; as I, go ku, kū; a, a, kri, krā.*
of The Sanscrit is said to possess another vowel, viz. Iri, 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 Devanāgari alphabet ; for without it, we have no corresponding vowels or diphthongs to the semi-vowel gl; but, with it, the last line of the Table may be filled up thus,
SHORT. LONG. GUNA. VRIDDHI. SEMI-VOWEL.
* When, however, u follows t it is written thus, Fru; and when a follows 7, thus, Tri.
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 Nicolaat 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, a, 74, and the word is written 1947. And here we have illustrated the two methods of compounding consonants, viz. Ist, 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. a ksha and Fina. 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.
a kta, as in the word jauktam ; Årma, as in the word orang kūrma. And here remark, that when er 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, as mikra in the word su kramena. Again,
shcha, as in ang tatashcha. Here remark, that y sometimes changes its form to , when combined with another consonant. 7 tra, as in a tatra; 7 chcha, as in your anyachcha; g shța, as in qe krishta ; U dya, as in va adya; Iddha, as in gf buddhi; ny bhya, as in Haa: tebhyah ; # tta, as in : suhrittamāh; a vya, as in my vyādha; dwa, as in gn dwūra ; F sya, as in ART tasya; sta ; mya; 3 dbha; 4 khya; sanka; Fnga;
ncha; Bnda ; 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 JAFT, “Roman"; ā as in that, “last "; i and ī as in the first and last syllables of the arote, “invalid"; u as in , “push "; ū as in 5G, “rude "; ri as in A, “rill "; rī as in , “chagrin"; e as in RL, "ere"; o as in HT, “so"; ai as in the “aisle"; au as ou in tę, “our”; ar and ār 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 į in bird, sir. The perfection of the Devanāgarī 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 remark 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 SHIEL. 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 e; the sound inch, a; the word under
915?; the dental n would be written in the word country, pronounced as in Ireland; the sound imp would be written ça. So, also, three of the classes have sibilants peculiar to them. Thus the final sibilant of the word nie tatas, when combined with the word a cha, must be written a tatashcha; when combined with
stat tīkā, must be written anglai tatashtīkā; when combined with ħ tam, must be retained mani tatastam. So also each of the letters, h, y, r, i, o, is plainly referrible to its particular class. The zh is pronounced from the throat, and therefore allied to the guttural class. The o y belongs to the palatal class, and in Bengali is always corrupted into ;. The t is allied to the cerebral letters 3 and T, and in Bengali these letters are often hardly distinguishable from p in sound. The 5 l is evidently a dental. The q, although partly dental, belongs to the labial class; and is so allied to a b, that, in Bengali, it is always pronounced like 6, and, in Sanscrit, is often interchanged with it.*
op 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 HH and the participle Fa, when united in one word, are written Åha; HA and , HERT; HA and TT,
;* and so on. But in every one of these cases the Anuswära takes the sound of the nasal of the class to which the following letter belongs. Thus is sounded as if written H FA; HET as if written HF ETT; fora as if written HG OT9. For the sake of brevity, however, the Anuswāra 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 q 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 in ai vā, a vyādha ; like w, when it forms the last member of a compound consonant, as in an dwūra.
† Hart, “an universal monarch,” and HRYO, “properly,” are the only words which violate this rule.