William Dwight Whitney.

A Sanskrit grammar : including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana online

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4. The student may be advieed to try to familiarize himself from
the start with the devanSgari mode of writing. At the same time,
it is not indispensable that he should do so until, having learned the
principal paradigms, he comes to begin reading and analysing and
parsing; and many will find the latter the more practical, and in the
end equally or more eflfective, way.

6. The characters of the devanfigari alphabet, and the

European letters which will be used in transliterating them^

are as follows:



1 ^ a

« 35(T fi


M *

' \ "^

Vowels: simple i labial

» 3 u

• 3" ti


^ ^ r

• ^ f


• 5T 1

[" 5J fl

( palatal
diphthongs 1 ^^.^j

u ^ e
w % o

»\ BX

u ^ au

Visarga » : ^

Anus vara i« jl, .^ ii or ih (see 78 c


surd Bitrd asp.


son. asp. nasal

guttural 17 of) k i* ^ kh

» 3T g

so ^ gh « S'^lT

palatal a t[ c a S" ch

«sr j

» ^ jh «• 3t Jf

Mutes I lingual ^Z ^ "• 7 fb

»I 4

n Jo ^ n XJi jf

dental « cT t » SI thf

M ^ d

^^^ dtk m^ n


n ^ -p m m ph »^b «oJ|bh «Jf

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f^^ Theory op this Mode op Writing. [—9

SemivoweU <

' palatftl «s IT y

lingual « ;[ r

dental «« ^ 1

labial ♦» Sf v

I palatal «• ^ 9

lingual *' ^ 9

dental «• H b

Aspiration « ^ h J 7

To these may be added a lingual 1 "SS, which in some of ^he
Yed texts takes the place of 7 4 when occurring between two

TO» (54).

A few other sounds, recognized by the theories of the Hindu

giaraarians, but either having no separate characters to represent

tbagor only very rarely and exceptionally written, will be noticed

h(k (71 b, Oy 280). Such are the guttural and labial breathings, the

aaaal semivowels, and others.

7. The order of airangement given above is that in

which the sounds are catalogued and debcribed by the native

grammarians; and it has been adopted by European scholars

as the alphabetic order, for indexes, dictiona.ries, etc. : to the

Hindus, the idea of an alphabetic arrangement for such

practical uses is wanting.

a. In some works (as the Petersburg lexicon), t viaarga which is re-
garded as equivalent to and exchangeable with a sibilant (172) is, though
rittea as visarga, given the alphabetic place of the sibilant.

8. The theory of the devanSgarl, as of the other Indian
modes of writing, is syllabic and consonantal. That is
to say, it regards as the written unit, not the simple sound,
but the syllable (ak^ara); and further, as the substantial
part of the syllable, the consonant or the consonants which
precede the vowel — this latter being merely implied, or,
if written, being written by a subordinate sign attached to
the consonant.

9. Hence follow these two principles:

A. The forms of the vowel-characters given in the

t,betical scheme above are used only when the vowel
■ ■


©— ] I. Alphabet.

forms a syllable by itself, or is not combined with a precedii
consonant: that is, when it is either initial or preceded
another vowel. In combination with a consonant, other modj
of representation are used.

B. If more consonants than one precede the vow^
forming with it a single syllable, their characters must
combined into a single compound character.

a. Native Hindu usage, in manuscriptB and inscriptions, tr
the whole material of a sentence alike, not separating its words
one another, any more than the syllables of the same word: a
consonant is combined into one written syllable with the initial vc
or consonant or consonants of the following word. It never occu)
to the Hindus to space their words in any way, even where the
of writing admitted such treatment; nor to begin a paragraph
new line; nor to write one line of verse under another: everything,
without exception, is written solid by them, filling the whole page.

b. Thus, the sentence and verse-line ahaih rudrebhir vasubhi^
oarftmy aliam adlty&ir uta vi9vadev&i]^ (Big-Yeda X. 125. 1: see
Appendix B) 1 wander with the Vasus, the Rudras^ I with the Adityas
and the Ail- Gods \6 thus syllabized: a haih ru dre bhi rva subhi
90a ra mya ha mS di tyfti ru ta vi 9va de vSifu each syllable end-
ing with a vowel (or a vowel modified by the nasal-sign anusvfira,
or having the sign of a final breathing, visarga, added: these being
the only elements that can follow a vowel in the same syllable); and
it is (together with the next line) written in the manuscripts after this


Each syllable is written separately, and by many scribes the
successive syllables are parted a little from one another: thus,

and so on.

c In Western practice, however, it is almost universally customary
to divide paragraphs, to make the lines of verse follow one another,
and also to separate the words so far as this can be done witho^L
changing the mode of writing them. See Appendix B, where the verse
here given is so treated.

d. Further, in works prepared fo\ beginners in the language, it
is not uncommon to make a more complete separation of words by a

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) 5 Writing op Vowels. [—10

free nse of the virftma-Bign (11) under final consonants: thus, for

or even by indicatlDg also the combinations of initial and final vowels
(126, 127;: for example,

e. In transliterating, Western methods of separation of words are
of coarse to be followed ; to do otherwise would be simple pedantry.

10. Under A, it is to be noticed that the modes of
indicating a vowel combined with a preceding consonant
are as follows:

a. The short 5[ a has no written sign at all; the con-
^niant-^ign itself implies a following ? a, unless some other
vowel-sign is attached to it (or else the virSma: 11). Thus,
the consonant-signs as given above in the alphabetic scheme
are really the signs of the syllables ka, kha, etc. etc. (to ha).

b. The long 5JT S is written by a perpendicular stroke
ifter the consonant: thus, ^ kS, ^T dhS, ^ hS.

c. Short ^ i and long ^ I are written by a similar stroke,

rhich for short i is placed before the consonant and for

}ng I is placed after it, and in either case is connected with

le consonant by a hook above the upper line : thus, % ki,

f W; ft bhi, >ft bhl; f^ ni, ?ft nl.

The hook aboye, taming to the left or to the right, is hiftorically tbe
entlal part of the character, haTing been originally the whole of it; the
kfl were only later prolonged, so as to reach all the way down beside
consonant. In the MSS., they almost never have the horizontal stroke
wTi across them above, though this is added in the printed characters:
, OTl^nally % kl, sf ki; in the MSS., {%, ^; In print, ^, 5Rt.

cl«. The n-80unds, short and long, are written by hooks

elied to the lower end of the consonant-sign: thus, ^

^ kH: ^ du, ? dfl. On account of the necessities of

b^ination, du and dfl are somewhat disguised: thus, Xr

kzid the forms with ^ r and ^ h are still more irregular:

"^ ra, ar rtl; ^ hu, "^ hfU

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10—] I. Alphabet. 6

e. The r-^owels, short and long, axe written by a sub-
joined hook, single or double, opening toward the right:
thus, ^ kr, ^ kf ; 7 dr, ^ df. In the h-sign, the hooks
are usually attached to the middle: thus, ^ hr, ^ hf .

As to the combination of ^ with preceding r, see below, 14 cL

f • The l-vowel is written with a reduced form of its
full initial character: thus, ^ kl; the corresponding long has
no real occurrence (28 a), but would be written with a similar
reduced sign.

g. The diphthongs are written by strokes, single or

double, aboye the upper line, combined, for ^ o and ^ fiu,

with the S-sign after the consonant: thus, % ke, % kfti;

% ko, ^ kSu.

h. In Bome devan&ga]rt mtnuscripts (as in the Bengali alphabet), the
single stroke above, or one of the doable ones, is replaoed by a sign Uke the
a-sign before the consonant: thus, {3f\ ke, R! kfti; |e|n ko, Ril kftu.

11. A consonant-sign, however, is capable of being made
to signify the consonant-sound alone, without an added vowel,
by having written beneath it a stroke called the virSma
[resty stop): thus, ^ k. '5' d, 5 h.

a. Since, as was pointed out aboye, the Hind as write the words of a
sentence oontlnaously like one word (8 a, b), the yirftma is in general oaUed
for only when a final consonant occors before a pause. Bat it is also oc-
casionaUy resorted to by scribes, or in print, in order to avoid an awkward
or difflcolt eombination of consonant-signs: thus,

fSTlft: ll^bhl]^, fItlOT llteu, 5r^?5r afik^va;
and it is used to make a separation of words in texts prepared for begin-
ners (8d).

12. Under B, it is to be noticed that the consonant
combinations are for the most part not at all difficult to
make or to recognise for one who is familiar with the
simple signs. The characteristic part of a consonant-sign
that is to be added to another is taken (to the exclusion of
the horizontal or of the perpendicular framing-line, or of
both), and they are put together according to convenience.

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7 Combinations op Consonants. [—14

either side by side, or one above the other; in a few oom-
binations either arrangement is allowed. The consonant that
is to be pronounced first is set before the other in the one
order, and abore it in the other order.

a. Examples of the side-by-side arrangement are: HT gga,
5f jja, or pya, sq nma, f8l ttha, vtj bhya, '^ ska, iniT wa,
f^ tka.

b. Examples of the above-and-below arrangement are:
^ kka, lar kva, ^ ooa, IT 2ja, ^ dda, H Pta, ^ tna,
a* tva.

18. In some cases, however, there is more or less ab-
breviation or disguise of the independent form of a con-
sonant-sign in combination. Thus,

a. Of ^ k in ^ kta, ^ kla; and in 'spa la^ etc.

b. Of fT t in fr tta;

o. Of ^ d in 7 dga, ? dna, etc.;

d. Of R m and IT y, when following other consonants:
thus, ^ kya, ^ kma, ^ fima, ^ liya, 7T dma, ts dya,
^ hma, ^ hya, ^ ohya, ^ dhya.

6. Of 51 9, which generally becomes 5T when followed
by a consonant: thus, Q 90a, W 9na, H 9va, ^ 9ya. The
same change is usual when a vowel-sign is added below;
thus, 5 9U, 5T 9^

f. Other combinations, of not quite obvious value, are
HT m^, ^ 11a, 7 ddha, ? dbha, ^ ^^^ *? 9tha; and the
compounds of ^ h: as ^ bi^, "^ hna.

g. In a case or two, no trace of the constituent letters
is recognizable: thus, ^ kfa, ^ jfia.

^. 14. The semivowel ;[ r, in making combinations with
other consonants, is treated in a wholly peculiar manner,
analogous with that in which the vowels are treated.

a. If pronounced before another consonant or combination
of consonants, it is written above the latter, with a hook

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14—] I. Alphabet. 8

opening to the right (much like the sign of the vowel r,
as written under a consonant: 10 e}: thus, o^ rka, ^ r^a,
(^ rtva, TTJ rmya, pp rtsna.

b. Then, if a consonant-group thus containing r as
first member is followed by a vowel that has its sign, or a
part of its sign, or its sign of nasality (anusvSra: 70, 71),
written above the line, the r-sign is placed furthest to the
right: thus, "^ rke, oR rkaii, fsR rki, ^rkl, ^ rko, ^rklA,
1^ rko&.

o. If r is pronounced after another consonant, whether
before a vowel or before yet another consonant, it is written
with a straight stroke below, slanting to the left: thus,
V( pra, U dhra, ^ gra, W( sra, '^ ddhra, ^ ntra, m grya,
TT srva, ^ ntrya; and, with modifications of a preceding
consonant-sign like those noted above (18), ?r tra, ?r dra,
TJf 9ra, ^ hra.

d. When ^ r is to be combined with a following iff ^r,
it is the vowel which is written in full, with its initial
character, and the consonant in subordination to it: thus,

_£ -mm*
^ ^'

16. Further combinations, of three, or four, or even
five consonant-signs, are made according to the same rules.
Examples are:

of three consonants, ^ ttva, ST ddhya, ^ dvya, iCT
drya, OT dhrya, c^ psva, SJT 9oya, ^ 9thya, ^ hvya;

of four consonants, Wi ktrya, ^ fik^ya, ^ 9trya,
fFHI tsmya;

of five consonants, fpf rtsnya.

a. The manuscripts, and the type-fonts as well, differ from one another
more in their management of consonant combinations than in any other respect,
often haying pecularities which one needs a little practice to understand. It
is quite useless to give in a grammar the whole series of possible combinations
(some of them excessively rare) which are provided for in any given type-
font, or even in all. There is nothing which due familiarity with the simple


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9 Various Signs. [—18

signs tnd with the above rales of combination will not enable the student
readily to analyse and explain.

16. a. A sign called the avagraha [separator) — namely
>r — is occasionally used in the manuscripts, sometimes in
the mannei of a hyphen, sometimes as a mark of hiatus,
sometimes to mark the elision of initial ^ a after final 17 e
or 3^ o (186). In printed texts, especially European, it is
ordinarily applied to the use last mentioned, and to that
alone: thus, ^ ^J^^^^te *bruvan, nt >I5R)r[^Bo *bravlt, for te
abruvan, so abravlt.

b. If the elided initial-vowel is nasal, and has the anu-
Bvftra-sign (70, 71) written above, this is usually and more
properly transferred to the eliding vowel; but sometimes it
is written instead over the avagraha-sign: thus, for so '&9um&n,
from so aficumSn, either ^ v^rm or ^ J^MH

o. The sign ^ is used in place of something that is
omitted, and to be understood from the connection: thus,
c|)(HHHH^ °rTR °^ vIrasenasutaB -tarn -tena.

d. Signs of punctuation are I and U.

At the end of a verse, a paragraph, or the like, the latter of
them is ordinarily written twice, with the figure of enumeration
between: thus, n \0 \i

17. The numeral figures are

*( 1, :i ^ ^ 3, g 4, H &, M» <^ 7, t: 8, ^ 9, 0.
In combination, to express larger numbers, they are
used in precisely the same way as European digits: thus,
t^H ^» ^^0 630, bOOO 7000, «(T:^^ 1896.

18. The Hindu grammarians call the di£ferent sounds, and the
characters representing them, by a kfira {maker) added to the sound
of the letter, if a vowel, or to the letter followed by a, if a consonant.
Thus, the sound or character a is called akftra; k is kakftra; and
so on. But the kftra is also omitted, and a, ka, etc. are used alone.
The r, however, is not called rakftra, but only ra, or repha snarl:
the sole example of a specific name for an alphabetic element of its
class. The anuevftra and visarga are also known by these names alone.

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19—] II. System of Sounds. 10



I. Vowels.

19. The a, i, and u-yowels. The Sanskrit has these
three earliest and most universal vowels of Indo-European
language, in both short and long form — ? a and ^ fi,
^ i and ^ I, 3 u and 3" tl. They are to be pronounced in
the ''Continental" or Italian" manner — as in far or farther ^
pin and pique, pull and rule,

20. The a is the openest vowel, an utterance from the expanded
throat, stands in no relation of kindred with any of the classes of
consonantal sounds, and has no corresponding semivowel. Of the
close vowels i and u, on the other hand, i is palatal, and shades
through its semivowel y into the palatal and guttural consonant-
classes; u is similarly related, through its semivowel v, to the labial
class, as involving in its utterance a narrowing and rounding of
the lips.

a. The Panlnean scheme (commentary to Panini's grammar i. 1. 9)
classes a as guttural, but apparently only in order to give that series as
well as the rest a Yowel ; no one of the Prati9akhyas puts a into one class
with k etc. All these authorities concur in calling the i- and u-voweLs
respectively palatal and labial.

21. The short a is not pronounced in India with the full openness
of a, as its corresponding short, but usually as the ^neutral vowel"
(English so-called "short m", of huty son, bloody etc.). This peculiarity
appears very early, being acknowledged by Panini and by two of the
Prati^akhyas (APr. i. 36; VPr. i. 72), which call the utterance eaihvrta,
covered up^ dimmed. It is wont to be ignored by Western scholars,
except those who have studied in India.

22. The a-vowels are the prevailing vowel-sounds of the language,
being about twice as frequent as all the others (Including diphthongs)
taken together. The i-vowels, again, are about twice as numerous
as the n-vowels. And, in each pair, the short vowel is more than
twice (21/8 to 3 times) as common as the long.

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11 Vowels. [—27

a. For more piecUe estimatea of frequency, of these and of the other
alphabetic elementSf and for the way in which they were obtained, see
below, 76.

28. The y- and J-vowels. To the three simple vowels

already mentioned the Sanskrit adds two others, the r-vowel

and the l-vowel, plainly generated by the abbreviation of

syllables containing respectively a ^ r or ^ 1 along with

another vowel: the ^ r coming almost always (see 287, 241-8)

from 35q^ ar or ^ rs, the ^ ) &om 35|^ al.

a. Some of the Hindn grammarians add to the alphabet also a long };
but this is only fbr the sake of an artiiloial symmetry, since the soand does
not occur in a single genuine word in the language.

24. The vowel ^ r is simply a smooth or untrilled
r-sound, assuming a vocalic ofBce in syllable-making — as,
by a like abbreviation, it has done also in certain Slavonic
languages. The vowel ^ 1 is an /-sound similarly uttered
— like the English ^vowel in such words as aJfo, angle,

a. The modem Hindus pronounce these vowels as r», rt, It (or
even 2rt), having long lost the habit and the facility of giving a vowel
yalne to the pnre r- and ^sounds. Their example is widely followed
by European scholars; and hence also the (distorting and altogether
objectionable) transliterations fi, fl, }i. There is no real difficulty in
the way of acquiring and practising the true utterance.

b. Some of the grammarians (see APr. i. 87, note) attempt to define more
nearly the way in which, In these Yowels, « real r- or ^element is combined
with something else.

26. Like their corresponding semivowels, r and 1, these vowels
belong respectively to the general lingual and dental classes; the
euphonic influence of r and f (189) shows this clearly. They are
so ranked in the Paninean scheme; but the Pritigakhyas in general
strangely class them with the Jihvftmtillya sounds, our '^gutturals" (88).

26. The short r is found in every variety of word and of position,
and is not rare, being just about as frequent as long U. Long f is very
much more unusual, occurring only in certain plural oases of noun-
stems in X (STlby d, 876). The } is met with only in some of the
forms and derivatives of a single not very common verbal root (k}p).

^^ 27. The diphthongs. Of the four diphthongs, two,

the ^ e and ^ o, are in great part original Indo-European

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27—] II. System of Sounds. j 2

sounds. In the Sanskrit, they wear the aspect of being
products of the increment or strengthening of ^ i and 3 u
respectively; and they are called the corresponding go^jia-
vowels to the latter (see below, 235 ff.). The other two, ^ Si
and ^ Su, are held to be of peculiar Sanskrit growth ; they
are also in general results of another and higher increment
of ^ i and 3 u, to which they are called the corresponding
vipddhi-vowels (below, 286 ff.). But all are likewise some-
times generated by euphonic combination (127); and m o,
especially, is common as result of the alteration of a final
5in as (175).

^ 28. The ^ e and ^ o are, both in India and in Europe,
usually pronounced as they are transliterated — that is, as
long e- (English "long a", or e in thet/) and o-sounds, without
diphthongal character.

a. Such they apparently already were to the authors of the
Pratigakhyas, which, while ranking them as diphthongs (saihdhyakiifara),
give rules respecting their pronunciation in a manner implying them
to be virtually unitary sounds. But their euphonic treatment (181-4)
clearly shows them to have been still at the period when the euphonic
laws established themselves, as they of course were at their origin,
real diphthongs, ai (a + i) and au {a + u). From them, on the same
evidence, the heavier or vrddhi diphthongs were distinguished by the
length of their a-element, as at {a + t j and du (a + u] .

b. The recognizahle distinctness of the two elements in the v^ddhi-
diphthongs is noticed by the Prat 9akhyas (see APr. i. 40, note) ; but the
relation of those elements is either deflnad as equal, or the a U made of
less quantity than the i and u.

29. The lighter or gui^a-diph thongs are much more frequent
(6 or 7 times) than the heavier or v^ddhi-diph thongs, and the e and
fti than the o and ftu (a half more). Both pairs are somewhat more
than half as common as the simple i- and u-vowels.

80. The general name given by the Hindu grammarians to the vowels
is Bvara tone-y the simple vowels are called Bamftnfik^ara homogeneow
syUahle^ and the diphthongs are called 8aihdhyaki[fara comhinaUon-syllable.
The position of the organs in their utterance is defined to be one of openness,
or of non-closure.

a. As to quantity and accent, see below, 76fiC, 80 ff.

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1 3 Mutes. [—36

II. Consonants.

81. The Hindu name for 'consonant' is vyafijana manifeHer,
The consonants are divided by the grammarians into ■par9a contact
or mute, anta^sthft, intermediate or semivowel, and Q^man spirant.
They will here be taken up and described in this order.

88. Mutes. The mutes, 8par9a, are so called as involving a
complete closure or contact (8par9a), and not an approximation only,
of the mouth-organs by which they are produced. They are divided
into five classes or series (varga), according to the organs and parts
of organs by which the contact is made; and each series is composed
of five members, differing according to the accompaniments of the

^^ 33. The five mute-series are called respectively guttural,
palatal, lingual (or cerebral), dental, and labial; and they
are arranged in the order as just mentioned, beginning with
the contact made furthest back in the mouth, coming for-
ward from point to point, and ending with the fiontmost

^34. In each series there are two surd members, two
sonant, and one nasal (which is also sonant): for example,
in the labial series, ^ p and m ph, ^ b and H bh, and ^m.

a. The members are by the Hindu grammarians caUed respectively ^r«<,
eecondy third, fourihj and hut or ^fth.

b. The surd consonants are known as agho^ ionelesSj and the sonants
as gho^avant having tone ; and the descriptions of the grammarians are in
accordance with these terms. AU alike recognise a difference of tone, and not
in any manner a difference of force, whether of contact or of expulsion, as
separating the two great classes in question. That the difference depends on
vivftra opening, or saihvftra closure (of the glottis), Is also recognized
by them.

^36. The first and third members of each series are the
ordinary corresponding surd and sonant mutes of European
languages: thus, SR k and JT g, cT t and 5" d, q p and ^b.

^ 36. Nor is the character of the nasal any more doubtful.
What ^m is to q p, and ^ b, or s^ n to cT^t and 5" d, that
is also each other nasal to its own series of mutes : a sonant
expulsion into and through the nose, while the mouth-
organs are in the mute-contact.

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36—] II. System op Sounds. 14

a. The Hindu grammarUns give distinctly this definition. The nasal
(anunfiBika passing through the nose) sounds are declared to he formed hy
mouth and nose together; or their nasality (ftntinfiBikya) to he giyen them
hy undosure of the nose.

^ 37. The second and fourth of each seiies are aspirates:
thus, beside the surd mute cR k we have the corresponding
surd aspirate l^Ckh, and beside the sonant 7T g, the corres-
ponding sonant aspirate ^ gh. Of these, the precise char-
acter is more obscure and difficult to determine.

a. That the aspirates, all of them, are real mutes or oontact sounds, and
not fricatives (like European th and ph and ch^ etc.), is heyond question.

b. It is also not douhtful in what way the surd th, for example, differs
from the unaspirated t: such aspirates are found in many Asiatic languages,
and even in some European ; they involve the slipping-out of an audihle hit
of flatus or aspiration hetween the hreach of mute-closure and the following

Online LibraryWilliam Dwight WhitneyA Sanskrit grammar : including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana → online text (page 3 of 59)