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chunk 76: how to spell Sanskrit -----------------------------------------

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how to spell Sanskrit
Sounds zz SS ss.
Spelling of zz SS ss.
blue zar
Doubled sibilants.
About the devanAgarI alphabet.
About the virAma sign.
spelling of Am'' forms
ugly space


how to spell Sanskritmmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ M- C+ 1370

Sanskrit is written the way it sounds, with two exceptions --

(1) The sounds zz SS ss are always spelled Hz HS Hs, with a dotdot (see Spelling of zz SS ss. for examples).

(2) the twenty-five clusters of nasal plus similar , such as the sound nt, are sometimes spelled as n + t, with their proper letters, and other times as Mt, with a topdot first (see CRAZY SPELLING RULE ).

In this website, however, I do not use the weird spellings Hs Mt etc. Rather, instead of the correct spelling zAntiH zAntiH I write zAntizH zAntiH, and instead of tAM nadIM tarati I use tanM nadInM tarati. (Long ago when my website used the correct spelling, I had to tell my students again and again "don't say tAmmnadImmtarati, it must be tAnnadIntarati". I got tired of doing that. After I changed the spelling, they stopped doing it.)

Some people will tell you that Sanskrit MUST be spelled using the devanAgarI alphabet. That's just not true. In India it has been written using different alphabets since forever. Learning devanAgarI, however, is a good idea, because most printed books use it.

The Sanskrit in this website is written in the Harvard-Kyoto style. See Wikipedia on Harvard-Kyoto.

I also add some exotic symbols to it sometimes, in order to make things easier for some of my students.


Sounds zz SS ss.mmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ C+ 1371

The sound zz is pronounced exactly like the sound z, but it lasts twice as long. It is a double consonant . So, these two are pronounced almost the same way --

goziraH "a cow-head" (a compound word, go-ziras)

gozziraH "the head of a cow" (two words, gos + ziras)

the only difference being the timing. The shsh sound of the second first lasts twice the first.

This shsh is a single lengthened sound. Yet, for writing purposes, grammar purposes, and verse rythm purposes, it counts as a cluster of z + z.

The same remarks apply to SS and ss.

See also spelling of zz SS ss.


Spelling of zz SS ss.mmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ C+ 1372

Because of an old tradition, the sounds zz SS ss must always be written as Hz HS Hs.

Also, the letter-groups Hz HS Hs must always be pronounced zz SS ss. Even when they have a space written in the middle, as in rAmaH sIdati.

I'll say that again because it's an important rule and has no exceptions --

"If the correct pronunciation is rAmassIdati

then the correct spelling is rAmaH sIdati

and when you see rAmaH sIdati in writing

you must read that as rAmassIdati."


blue zarmmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ C+ 1373

In this website I often spell the sounds "zz", "SS" and "ss" as zHz, SHS, sHs, with a blue zar letter. Those sounds are entirely like the ordinary z S s, but they last twice as long, ie, they last one mAtrA each.


Doubled sibilants.mmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ C- 1374

The sounds zz, SS and ss are just like the sounds of z S, s, but they last about twice the time, that is, they last as much as any other cluster of two consonants.

As there are no affixes that start with z S s, these sounds only appear when a wordfinal s or r happens to be in saMhitA before the initial z S s of the next word. A good example of that is the mantra --

zAntizH zAntizH zAntihI3 "Peace, peace, peace."

Where the final s of the first two zAntis word changed into H by kharava, then into s by visarjanIyasyasaH, then into z by stozzcu. The s of the last word was not in saMhitA, so it was affected by kharava only.

Because of an old custom, these zz SS ss sounds are nearly always spelled as if they were Hz, HS and Hs. The spellings zz, SS and ss are found once in a blue moon, but are considered correct too.

This way of writing does not cause any confusion, because the spellings Hz, HS and Hs are invariably read aloud as zz SS ss.


About the devanAgarI alphabet.mmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ M- C+ 1375

Learn about the devanAgarI alphabet at--

Wikipedia on devanAgarI

Most printed Sanskrit books use this alphabet.

321A Ashtavakra Gita அஷ்டாவக்ர கீதை chanting lyrics Sanskrit Tamil meaning Tamil


About the virAma sign.mmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ C+ 1376

Most Indian alphabets do not have a letter for consonants, like t k p etc.

For instance, in the devanAgarI alphabet as it is used to write Sanskrit, there is a letter for ta. To represent the sound t as in akSipat, they write a ta, and a virAma sign under it. The virAma sign shows the lack of a after letters such as ta ka pa etc.

It looks like a short diagonal, written under the letter, pointing southeast.

For some reason, many people used to write Hindi mostly appear to think that the virAma symbol is not necessary when writing Sanskrit, so they'll often mispell akSipat as if it were akSipata, or misread a correctly spelled akSipata as akSipat. Don't do that, please.


spelling of Am'' formsmmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ M- C+ 1377

You are going to see three spellings of Am'' verbs that carry bhU or kR as auxiliary --



IkSAM cakre

I like the second. Inria reader likes the first for input and the second for output. The indology epics use the third. The traditional spelling is the second.

Because of the shoddiness of the pANini rules on Am'', it is impossible to make the experts agree on the subject of whether the nasal sound of IkSAJcakre is technically a wordfinal made by monusvA and anusvA, or a non- wordfinal made by nazcA and anusvA. Combine this with the CRAZY SPELLING RULE and you have opened a can of worms. There are two different views that are both arguable --

(A) The J sound of IkSaJcakre was made by nazcA so it must always be spelled and pronounced J.

(B) The J sound of IkSAJcakre was made by monusvA so that J sound must be always spelled M and may be pronounced either as J or as M.

Some of those that hold the second view say that a space should be written after the wordfinal.

Fortunately, it seems that everybody agrees that a pause before the cakre is forbidden, and that the J pronunciation is always kosher.

My personal advice is: go with the herd --

Pronounce always IkSAJMcakre with J. Because everybody does that.

Write always IkSaMcakre with M, and as a single word, with no space. Because mostly everybody in India does that.


ugly spacemmmmmmmmm glosses glosses ^ C- 1378

In modern Sanskrit printed books, spaces are written after words. Unless the space would look ugly.

Spaces would look ugly...

After any consonants but topdot or dotdot --

tvayyupapadyate "befits you"

Inside a compound --

hRdayadaurbalyam "mental weakness"

uttiSTha "stand up!"

tejoMzaH ("a part of the energy", from tejas + aMzas)

After a letter made wordfinal by rule sv;AdiSva, such as the manas here --

manasHsu "in the thoughts"

When the last vowel of the word merged with the first vowel of the next word by rules akassa, AdguNaH, vRddhireci.

tyaktvottiSTha "forget that and stand up!"

In old books you can see other uses of the flycrap, like using two of them to show a disappeared A --

tadA ''tmAnam

But that's mostly out of use and most modern books have --


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chunk 76: how to spell Sanskrit -----------------------------------------

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