Notes on pronouncing, reading and writing Roman Sam’skrta
SHA, S’A, SA and HA, are SIBILANTS producing some heat, hence called ÚS’M’A VARN’A, but they have distinct pronunciation.
SHA (palatal; voiceless fricative) is to be pronounced with tip of tongue touching the palate, S’A (cerebral; retroflex fricative) touching the back of the palate, SA (dental, sharp sibilant) almost touching the teeth.
The use of double letters like DD, JJ or II
Clustering, doubling or combining of consonants is very common in Sam’skrta words. Such ligatures, joining or SAM’DHI, even in case of vowels is inherent in word formation from their ROOT WORD. Examples are UT+DOL= UDDOL, UT+JVAL= UJJVAL, JAGAT+IISH= JAGADIISH etc.
BA and VA. If in doubt, VA can be used blindly but not BA. Most singers of Prabha’t Sam’giita have been using “BA” and not using “VA” at all. ‘VÁ IS NOT PURE LABIAL PRONUNCIATION LIKE ‘BÁ.
Ref. VARN’A VIJINA’NA page 12-14
about use of va and ba.
Ref. VARN’A VICITRA’ discourse2 (27/11/1983) and discourse 3 (4/12/1983) The word vis’n’u should be pronounced with this “va” Above elaborately explained discourses must be considered well. As summary :- Use of vargiya “ba” is much limited, whenever there is doubt, “va” can be used with risk but not “ba”.
When “ba” and “va” are both of totally different characteristics, it is not possible to get the work done with another. As such pronouncing “KEVALAM” AS “KEBALAM” is not justified. Should it be VARA’BHAY or BARA’BHAY?
Three points to consider:
1. In Roman Sam’skrta, “W” is not recognised as a tantric symbol. It can be used however otherwise to express proper pronunciation.
2. YA, RA, LA and VA are antastha varn’a. They are not pure consonants rather cobinations and which will have somewhat different pronunciation depending upon the place in the word.
3. In popular Ba’ngla’ or Bengali, “VA” does not exist. BABA had taken a strong view of this fact. Hence most close assistants of BABA have included their weakness by habit,
in text as well as pronunciation in songs.
Spelling of words like NÁVATE or UT’HALO that contain an A which is not always pronounced:
NÁVATE or NÁVTE are both correct and in the same way “UT’HALO and UT’HLO are both OK (depending on which accent is used for pronunciation, in particular if, while singing, the gap between the consonant letters is very short it can be written without the usual following letter “a”. In Sam’skrta, these are indicated by what is called HAS’ANTA or HALANTA.
Spelling of words like UPAL or ÁNDHÁR
which are often pronounced with O at the end
but are written without an O:
UPAL and UPALA both should be considered correct for all practical purposes depending upon the use in the song which may have partial extension or INTONATION. The ending “A” itself has 21 different types of pronunciation, varying with place, time and person, but BABA recommended using the Yajurvedic, Ta’ntric or Tiryak accent. Generally one will find in the cassettes that this ending “a” is pronounced like “o”. Writing “UPALO” in the text is not justified. The same is applicable for ÁNDHÁR or ÁNDHA”RA, where writing ÁNDHARO is not proper.
If MA or NA come at the end of the root and are followed by a consonant (vargiiya) then the fifth letter of that varga or class is used, or else m’. For example, sham+kara = shaunkara or sham’kara. Both are correct. (V.V. p15)
A distinction between a hard JA and a light JA should also be made. “YA” is NOT A PURE CONSONANT. It is a combination of I and A. But at the beginning of any word it should be pronounced like light JA (a light ZA sound).
The hard ja is pronounced by touching the tongue
to the upper palate.
The light ja is pronounced by thrusting the tongue towards the teeth’s lower gum like Z.
The pronunciation of AE and AO in Sam’skrta should be maintained according to Sam’skrta style, otherwise it will create difficulties with vowel elision (V.V.p29)
Words appearing in PRABHATA SAM’GIITA are not like words of a prose to be just read but for singing and hence for example, JAD’ATA’ should be written as JAR’ATA’ and YOGA should be written as JOGA to avoid any ambiguity in pronunciation. The nearest pronunciation must be considered for scripting in the absence of exact one.
Every language has its intonation or style of pronunciation, just as every dialect has more or less its own intonation. This changes from village to village, mile to mile.
Ref. VARNA VIJINA’NA page 129 first para.
“It would be quite good if students first become skilled in reading, writing and speaking Sam’skrta (printed Sanskrit at most places) by learning Basic Sanskrit through Roman script before going on to learn advanced Sanskrit or literary Sanskrit. On one hand it would be easier for the student, and on the other the use of Sam’skrta would become widespread.”
REF: VARN’A VIJINA’N (Discourse 6, page 42 last para and page 43, last para)
“Sanskrit is pronounced exactly as it is written”
“In Bengali also we do not always pronounce
something the way we write it.”
Bengali is influenced by the Yajuvedic style of pronunciation….. (V.V. p30)
Ninety three percent of the Bengali words we use have originated from Sam’skrta. (V.V. p63)