Pronunciation of Sanskrit and Pāli

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We feel it is important to use accurate transliteration of  Sanskrit and Pāli words on our web site. Therefore, we prefer to apply Sanskrit and Pāli diacritics in order to retain the original pronunciation as much as possible. Thus, we offer our visitors a quick guide to learning to understand the correct pronunciation of these ancient Indian languages.

Vowels:

a — as in sofa

a — as in father i — as in pin
ī — as in teen u — as in put ū — as in noon
— as in fibre ṝ — like , but long ḷ — as in able
e — as in Vegas ai — as in aisle o — as in oh
au — as in out

Consonants:       

k, kh = English k g, gh — as in good (never as in gym)
ṅ — as in singing c, ch — as in church (never as in car)
j, jh — as in jam ñ — as in canyon (cañon)
ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ = retroflex sounds of t, th, d, dh, n. * t — as in stop
th — as in top, Thomas (never as in thin or this) d, dh = English d
n = English n p — as in spin
ph — as in pat (never = English f) b, bh = English b
m = English m y — as in yodel (never as in body)
r = English r l = English l
v = English v ś, ṣ = English sh
s = English s h = English h
ḥ is a final aspiration ṁ (also written ṃ) is a pure nasal (pronounce as m)

* We do not have such sounds in English. The tongue should touch the roof of the mouth for these letters, not the teeth (as it does in English).

Aspirate letters, those written with a letter + h (kh, gh, ch, jh, ṭh, ḍh, th, dh, ph, bh), are pronounced with a breath after the consonant, as: back-hoe, big-horn, wart-hog, boat-house if pronounced bac-khoe, bi-ghorn, war-thog, boa-thouse.


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