William Dwight Whitney.

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

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sound, whatever it may he. They are accurately enough represented hy the
th etc., with which, in imitation o f the Latin treatment of the similar ancient
Greek aspirates, we are accustomed to write them.

o. The sonant aspirates are generally understood and described as made
in a similar way, with a perceptible A-sound after the hreaoh of sonant mute-
closure But there are great theoretical difficulties in the way of accepting
this explanation ; and some of the host phonetic observers deny that the modem
Hindu pronunciation is of such a character, and define the element following
the mute as a ^glottal buzz", rather, or as an emphasized utterance of the
beginning of the succeeding sound. The question is one of great difficulty,
and upon it the opinions of the highest authorities are much at variance.
Sonant aspirates are still in use in India, in the pronunciation of the vernacular
as well as of the learned languages.

d. By the Prati^khyas, the aspirates of both classes are called socman :
which might mean either accompanied hy a rush of breath (taking ^man
in its more etymological sense), or accompanied hy a spirant (below, 59).
And some native authorities define the surd aspirates as made by the combi-
nation of each surd non-aspirate with its own corresponding surd spirant ; and
the sonant aspirates, of each sonant non-aspirate with the sonant spirant, the
h-Bound (below, 65). But this would make the two classes of aspirates of
quite diverse character, and would also make th the same as ts, fh as (9, eh
as 09 — which is in any measure plausible only of the last. Panini has no
name for aspirates ; the scheme given in his comment (to i. 1. 9) attributes
to them mahftprfii^La great expiration^ and to the non-aspirates alpaprfii^
smaU expiration.

8. It is usual among European scholars to pronounce

both classes of aspirates as the corresponding non-aspirates

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1 5 Guttural and Palatal Mutes. [—42

with a following h: for example, ST th nearly as in English
boathooky Cfi ph as in haphazard^ U dh as in madhouse^ H bh
as in ahhoVj and so on. This is (as we have seen above)
strictly accurate only as regards the surd aspirates.

88. The sonant aspirates are (in the opinion of most), or at least
represent, original Indo-European sounds, while the surd aspirates
are a special Indian development The former are more than twice
as common as the latter. The unaspirated (non-nasal) mutes are very
much more frequent (5 times) than the aspirates (for the special fre-
quency of bh and original gh, see 50 and 66) ; and among them the
surds are more numerous (2V2 times) than the sonants. The nasals
(chiefly n and m) are nearly as frequent as the surd non-aspirates.

We take up now the several mute-series.

^^^9, Guttural series: ^ k, ^ kh, JT g, ^ gh, ^ fi«
These are the ordinary European k and (7-sounds, with their
corresponding aspirates and nasal (the last, like English ng
in singing).

a. The gattoials are defined by the Prati9akhya8 as made hy contact of
the base of the tongue with the base of the Jaw, and they are called, from
the former organ, Jihv&muUya tongue-root sounds. The Paninean scheme
describes them simply as made in the throat (kai^fha). From the euphonic
influence of a k on a following s (below, 180), we may perhaps Infer that
in theii utterance the tongae was well drawn back in the mouth.

40. The k is by far the commonest of the guttural series occurring
considerably more often than all the other four taken together. The
nasal, except as standing before one of the others of the same series,
is found only as final (after the loss of a following k: 886, 407) in
a very small number of words, and as product of the assimilation of
final k to a following nasal (161).

41. The Sanskrit guttural series represents only a minority of
Indo-Earopean gutturals; these last have suffered more and more general
corruption than any other class of consonants. By processes of alteration
which began in the Indo-European period, the palatal mutes, the
palatal sibilant 9, and the aspiration h, haye come from gutturals.
See these yarious sounds below.

42. Palatal series: ^e, ^ oh, sT j, ^ jh, 31 ft. ■-

The whole palatal series is derivatiye, being generated by the
corruption of original gutturals. The c comes from an original k —
as does also, by another degree of alteration, the palatal sibilant 9
(see below, 64). The J, in like manner, comes from a g; but the

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42—] IT. System op Sounds. 16

SaDskrit j includes in itself two degrees of altera tioD, one correspond-
ing to the alteration of k to c, the other to that of k to 9 (see below,
219). The o is somewhat more common than the j (abont as four
to three). The aspirate ch is very much less frequent (a tenth of o),
and comes from the original group sk. The sonant aspirate jh is
excessively rare (occnrring but once in RV-, not once in AV., and
hardly half-a-dozen times in the whole older language); where found,
it is either onomatopoetic or of anomalous or not Indo-European origin.
The nasal, fi, never occurs except immediately before — or, in a
small number of words, also after (201) — one of the others of the
same series.

43. Hence, in the euphonic processes of the language, the
treatment of the palatals is in many respects peculiar. In some
situations, the original unaltered guttural shows itself — or, as
it appears from the point of view of the Sanskrit, the palatal reverts
to its original guttural. No palatal ever occurs as a final. The j is
differently treated, according as it represents the one or the other
degree of alteration. And c and j (except artificially, in the algebraic
rules of the grammarians) do not interchange, as corresponding surd
and sonant.

^ 44. The palatal mutes are by European scholars, as by

the modern Hindus also, pronounced with the compound

sounds of English ch and j (in church and judge).

a. Their description by the old Hindu grammaiians, however, g^ves them
a not less absolutely simple character than belongs to the other mutes. They
are called tfilavya palatal, and declared to be formed against the palate by
the middle of the tongue. They seem to have been, then, brought forward in
the month from the guttural point, and made against the hard palate at a
point not far from the lingual one (below, 45), but with the upper flat surface
of the tongue instead of its point Such sounds, in aU languages, pass easily
into the (English) eh- and /-sounds. The yalue of the ch as making the
preceding yowel ^ong by position" (227), and its frequent origination
from t + 9 (208), lead to the suspicion that it, at least, may have had
this character from the beginning: compare 87 d, abo^e.

^ 45. Lingual series: Z%, ZX^i ^ 4) ^ 4h, HT i>. The
lingual mutes are by all the native authorities defined as
uttered with the tip of the tongue turned up and drawn
back into the dome of the palate (somewhat as the usual
English smooth r is pronounced). They are called by the
grammarians mtlrdhanya, literally head-sounds, capitah,
cephalics\ which term is in many European grammars

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1 7 Lingual and Dental Mutes. [—47

rendered by 'cerebral8\ In practice, among European
Sanskritists, no_attempt is made to distinguish them from
the dentals: 7 t is pronounced like rT t, I 4 like ^ d, and
so with the rest.

46. The Unguals are another non-original series of sounds,
coming mainly from the phonetic alteration of the next series, the
dentals, but also in part occurring in words that have no traceable
Indo-European connection, and are perhaps derived from the ab-
original languages of India. The tendency to lingualisation is a
positive one in the history of the language: dentals easily pass into
Unguals under the influence of contiguous or neighbouring lingual
sounds, but not the contrary; and all the sounds of the class become
markedly more frequent in the later literature. The conditions of
their ordinary occurrence are briefly these: 1. 9 comes from a, much
more rarely from 9, J, k^, in euphonic circumstances stated below
{180, 218 ff.); 2. a dental mute following 9 is assimilated to it,
becoming lingual (t, fh, i^: 197); 3. n is often changed to i^ after a
lingual vowel or semivowel or sibilant in the same word (189 ff.);
4. ^ which is of very rare occurrence, comes from assimilation of
a dental after 9 (198 a) or h (222); 5. % and 4 come occasionally
by substitution for some other sound which is not allowed to stand
as final (142» 146-7). When originated in these ways, the lingual
letters may be regarded as normal; in any other cases of their
occurrence, they are either products of abnormal corruption, or signs
of the non-Indo-European character of the words in which they

a. In a certain nnmher of passages numerically examined (below, 75),
the abnormal occurrences of Ungual mutes were less than half of the whole
number (74 out of 159), and most of them (43) were of i^r all were found
more frequent in the later passages. In the Rig-Veda, only id words have
an abnormal (; only 6, such a fh; only 1, such a ^] about 20 (including
9 roots, nearly all of which have derivatives) show an abnormal <jl, besides
9 that have 9<jl; and 30 (including 1 root) show a i^.

b. Taken all together, the Unguals are by far the rarest class of
mutes (about IV2 per cent of the alphabet) — hardly half as frequent
even as the palatals.

/47. Dental series: cTt, grth,5'd,Udh,^ii. These
are called by the Hindus also dantya dental, and are
described as formed at the teeth (or at the roots of the
teeth), by the tip of the tongue. They are practically the
equivalents of our European f, dj n,

Whitney, Grammar. 3. ed. 2

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47 — ] II. System op Sounds. 18

a. But tbe modern Hlndas are said to pronounce tbeir dentals with the
tip of the tongue thrust well forward against the upper teeth, so that these
sounds get a slight tinge of the quality belonging to the English and Modem
Greek <A-80unds. The absence of that quality in the European (especially
the English) dentals is doubtless the reason why to the ear of a Hindu the
latter appear more analogous with his linguals, and he is apt to use the Unguals
in writing European words.

48. The dentals are one of the Indo-Enropean origiDal mute-
classes. In their occurrence in Sanskrit they are jnst about as frequent
as all the other four classes taken together.

vv\ y 49. Labial series: ^ p, Cfj ph, ^ b, >T bh, R m.
These sounds are called o^fhya lahial by the Hindu gram-
marians also. They are, of course, the equivalents of our
;?, i, m.

50. The numerical relations of the labials are a little peculiar.
Owing to the absence (or almost entire absence) of h in Indo-European,
the Sanskrit b also is greatly exceeded in frequency by bh, which
is the most common of all the sonant aspirates, as ph is the least
common of the surd. The nasal m ■ (notwithstanding its frequent
euphonic mutations when final: 212 ff.) occurs just about as often as
all the other four members of the series together.

a. From an early period in the history of the language, hut increasingly
later, b and v exchange with one another, or fail to he distinguished in the
manuscripts. Thus, the double root-forms byh and vph, b&dh and vadh, and
so on. In the Bengal manuscripts, v is widely written instead of more original b.

61. Semivowels: IT y, T r, ^f 1, ^ v.

a. The name given to this class of sounds by the Hindu grammarians is
antahstha standing between — either from their character as utterances
intermediate between vowel and consonant, or (more probably) from the
circumstance of their being placed between the mutes and spirants in the
arrangement of the consonants.

b. The semivowels are clearly akin with the several mute series
in their physical character, and they are classified along with those
scries — though not without some discordances of view — by the Hindu
grammarians. They are said to be produced with the organs slightly
in contact (ifatspi^t^), or in imperfect contact (duhspr^ta).

52. The ^ r is clearly shown by its influence in the

euphonic processes of the language to be a lingual sound,

or one made with the tip of the tongue turned up into the

dome of the palate. It thus resembles the English smooth r,

and, like this, seems to have been untrilled.

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19 Sbmivowbls. [ - 65

a. The P&ninean scheme reckons r as & lingual. None of the PrSti9ikhya8,
however, doee so; nor are they entirely consistent with one another in its
description. For the most part, they define it as made at ''the roots of the
teeUi". This would give it a position like that of the vibrated r; but no
authority hints at a vibration as belonging to it.

b. In point of freqaency, r stands very high on the list of con-
sonants; it is nearly equal with v, n, m, and y, and only exceeded
by t.

y^ 63. The ^ 1 is a sound of dental position^ and is so
defined and classed by all the native authorities.

a. The peculiar character of an ^sound, as involving expulsion at the
side of the tongue along with contact at its tip, is not noticed by any Hindu

b. The semiTOwels r and 1 are very widely interchangeable in Sanskrit,
both in roots and in suffixes, and even in prefixes : there are few roots contain-
ing a 1 which do not show also forms with r; words written with the one
letter are found in other texts, or in other parts of the same text, written
with the other. In the later periods of the language they are more separated,
and the 1 becomes decidedly more frequent, though always much rarer than
the r (only as 1 to 7 or 8 or 10).

64. Some of the Vedic texts have another /-sound, written with
a slightly different character (it is given at the end of the alphabet,
6 a}, which is substituted for a lingual ^ (as also the same followed
by h for a ^ when occurring between two vowels. It is, then,
doubtless a lingual /, one made by breach (at the side of the tongue)
of the lingual instead of the dental mute closure.

a. Examples are: ^^ fle, for ^ icje, but ^ ifya; hIoo^^
mnha^, for ^^^^ mii^Ufe, but 41bH mi<pivan. It is especially in
the Rig-Yeda and its auxiliary literature that this substitution is usual.

y 66. The ^y in Sanskrit, as in other languages generally,
stands in the closest relationship with the vowel ^ i (short
or long); the two exchange with one another in cases in-

a. And in the Veda (as the metre shows) an i is very often to be read
where, in conformity with the rules of the later Sanskrit euphony, a y is
written. Thus, the final i-vowel of a word remains i before an initial vowel ;
that of a stem maintains itself unchanged before an ending; and an ending
of derivation — as ya, tya — has i Instead of y. Such cases will be noticed
in more detail later. The constancy of the phenomenon in certain words and
classes of words shows that this was no merely optional interchange. Very
probably, the Sanskrit y had oTerywhere more of an i-character than belongs
to the corresponding European sound.


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56—] II. System op Sounds. 20

50. The y is by its physical character a palatal utterance; and
it is classed as a palatal semivowel by the Hindu phone tists. It is
one of the most common of Sanskrit sounds.

^^57. The ^ V is pronounced as English or French v

(German to) by the modern Hindus — except when preceded

by a consonant in the same syUable, in which case it has

rather the sound of English to; and European scholars follow

the same practice (with or without the same exception).

a. By its whole treatment in the euphony of the language, however,
the V stands related to an u-vowel precisely as y to an t-vowel. It
is, then, a v only according to the original Roman value of that
letter — that is to say, a u7-sound in the Eoglish sense; though (as
was stated above for the y) it may well have been less markedly
separated from u than English w, or more like French ou in out etc.
But, as the original w has in most European languages been changed
to V (English), so also in India, and that from a very early time : the
Paninean scheme and two of the Prati^akhyas ( VPr. and TPr.j distinctly
define the sound as made between the upper teeth and the lower
lip — which, of course, identifies it with the ordinary modern t^-sound.
As a matter of practice, the usual pronunciation need not be seriously
objected to; yet the student should not fail to note that the rules of
Sanskrit euphony and the name of ^semivowel'' have no application
except to a ti'-sound in the English sense: a t;-sound (German tc) is
no semivowel, but a spirant, standing on the same articulate stage
with the English ^A-sounds and the /.

58. The V is classed as a labial semivowel by the Hindu phonet-
ical authorities. It has a somewhat greater frequency than the y.

a. In the Veda, under the same circumstances as the y (above, 55 a),
V is to be read as a vowel, u.

b« As to the interchange of v and b, see above, 50 a.

59. Spirants. Under the name tinman (literally heatj
steam^ flattis), which is usually and well represented by
spirant, some of the Hindu authorities include all the remain-
ing sounds of the alphabet; others apply the term only to
the three sibilants and the aspiration — to which it will here
also be restricted.

a. The term is not found in the Paninean scheme ; by different treatises
the guttural and labial breathings, these and the visarga, or all these and
anusv&ra, arc also (in addition to the sibilants and h) called u^man (see

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21 Sibilants. [—62

APr. 1. 31 note). The organs of utterance are described as being in the
position of tbe mute-series to which each spirant belongs respectively, but
unclosed, or unclosed in the middle.

^60. The H^8. Of the three sibilants, or surd spirants,

this is the one of plainest and least questioned character:

it is the ordinary European s — a hiss expelled between

the tongue and the roof of the mouth directly behind the

upper &ont teeth.

a. It is, then, dental, as it is classed by all the Hindu aathorities.
NotwithstandiDg the great losses which it suffers in Sanskrit euphony,
by conversion to the other sibilants, to r, to visarga, etc., it is
still very high among the consonants in the order of frequency, or
considerably more common than both the other two sibilants together.

^ 61. The ^ 9. As to the character of this sibilant, also, "^

there is no ground for real question: it is the one produced

in the lingual position, or with the tip of the tongue

reverted into the dome of the palate. It is, then, a kind of

f^-sound; and by European Sanskritists it is pronounced

as an ordinary $h (French ch, German 8ch)j no attempt

being made (any more than in the case of the other lingual

sounds: 45) to give it its proper lingual quality.

a. Its lingual character is shown by its whole euphonic influence,
and it is described and classed as lingual by all the Hindu author-
ities (the APr. adds, i. 23, that the tongue in its utterance is trough-
shaped). In its audible quality, it is a «A-sound rather than a^-sound;
and, in the considerable variety of sibilant-utterance, even in the
same community, it may coincide with the sh of some among
ourselves. Tet the general and normal sh is palatal (see below, 68);
and threrefore the sign f, marked in accordance with the other lin-
gual letters, is the only unexceptionable transliteration for the Hindu

b. In modern pronunciation in India, 9 is much confounded with kh;
and the manuscripts are apt to exchange tbe characters. Some later gram-
matical treatises, too, take note of the relationship.

62. This sibilant (as was noticed above, 46, and will be more
particularly explained below, 180 ff.) is no original sound, but a
product of the lingualization of a under certain euphonic conditions.
The exceptions are extremely few (9 out of 145 noted occurrences:
76), and of a purely sporadic character. The Big- Veda has (apart

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es— ] II. System op Sounds. 22

from >/ sah, 182 b] only twelve words which show a 9 under other

a. The final (} of a root has in some cases attained a more independent
value, and does not revert to b when the euphonic conditions are removed,
hut shows anomalous forms (225-6).

S \ ^ 63. The 51 Q. This sibilant is by all the native authorities

classed and described as palatal, nor is there anything in

its history or its euphonic treatment to cast doubt on its

character as such. It is, then, made with the flat of the

tongue against the forward part of the palatal aich — that

is to say, it is the usual and normal ^A-sound. By European

scholars it is variously pronounced — more often, perhaps,

as & than as sh,

a. The two ^A-sounds, f and 9, are made in the same part of the
mouth (the f probably rather further back), but with a different part of
the tongue; and they are doubtless not more unlike than, for example, the
two ^-sounds, written \ and t ; and it would be not less proper to pronounce
them both as one sh than to pronounce the Unguals and dentals alike. To
neglect the difference of a and 9 is much less to be approved. The very
near relationship of f and 9 is attested by their euphonic treatment, which
is to a considerable extent the same, and by their not infrequent confusion
by the writers of manuscripts.

64. As was mentioned above (41), the 9, like c, comes from the
corruption of an original A;-soand, by loss of mute-contact as well as
forward shift of the point of production. In virtue of this derivation,
it sometimes (though less often than c) "reverts" to k — that is> the
original k appears instead of it (43); wliile, on the other hand, as a
«A-sound, it is to a certain extent convertible to f . In point of frequency,
it slightly exceeds the latter.

. 66. The remaining spirant, ^ h, is ordinarily pronounced

like the usual European surd aspiration h.

a. This is not, however, its real character. It is defined by all the native
authorities as not a surd element, but a sonant (or else an utterance inter-
mediate between the two) j and its whole value in the euphony of the language
is that of a sonant: but what is its precise value is very hard to say. The
Paninean scheme ranks it as guttural, as it does also a : this means nothing.
The Prati^akhyas bring it into no relation with the guttural class-, one of
them quotes the opinion of some authorities that "it has the same position
with the beginning of the following vowel" (TPr. ii. 47) — which so far
identifies it with our h. There is nothing in its euphonic influence to mark
it as retaining any trace of gutturally articulated character. By some of

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23 ViSARGA. [—69

the natiTe phonetists it is identlfled with the aspiration of the sonant
aspirates — with the element by which, for example, gh difPers from g«
This view is supported by the derivation of h from the aspirates (next
paragraph), by that of 1 -f- li ^om ^ (^)} &nd by the treatment of initial
h after a final mote (108).

66. The h, as already noticed, is not an original sound, but
comes in nearly all cases ^om au older gh (for the few instances of
its deriyation from dh and bh, see below, 228 g). It is a vastly
more frequent sound than the unchanged gh (namely, as 7 to 1): more
frequent, indeed, than any of the guttural mutes except k. It appears,
like j (219), to include in itself two stages of' corruption of gh: one
corresponding with that of k to o, the other with that of k to 9;
see below, 223, for the roots belonging to the two classes respectively.
Like the other sounds of guttural derivation, it sometimes exhibits
"reversion" (48) to its original.

^ 67. The : l^, 01 visarga (visarjanlya^ as it is uniformly
called by the Prati^akhyas and by Panini, probably as belong-
ing to the end of a syllable) ^ appeals to be merely a surd
breathing, a final A-sound (in the European sense of A),
uttered in the articulating position ot the preceding vowel.

a. One Praa9akhya (TPr. U. 48) gives jnst this last description of it.
It is hy Tarioos authorities classed with h, or with h and a: all of them
are alike sounds in whose utterance the month-organs have no definite
shaping action.

68. The visarga is not original, but always only a substitute
for final s or r, neither of which is allowed to maintain itself unchanged
(170 ff.). It is a comparatively recent member of the alphabetic
system ; the other euphonic changes of final s and r have not passed

Online LibraryWilliam Dwight WhitneyA Sanskrit grammar : including both the classical language, and the older dialects, of Veda and Brahmana → online text (page 4 of 59)