Just a few questions on pronunciation, spelling and grammar

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Layt
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri May 04, 2018 12:58 pm

Just a few questions on pronunciation, spelling and grammar

Post by Layt » Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm

Hi everyone, there are a few things I would like to ask you...

How is "R" pronounced in Pāḷi ? The wikipedia page says [ ɻ ], which is basically the English "R". However I'm having trouble believing that such a sound would have existed in a language that features only very basic phonemes, separated into clearly distinct syllables. Pāḷi words look a lot like Japanese words, so I wouldn't be suprised if Pāḷi used the flap/tap [ ɾ ] or the trilled [ r ].

Is the "H" in "Taṇhā" pronounced as a distinct phoneme [ tɐɳha: ] or is it combined with the retroflex "N" to create an aspirate retroflex "N" [ tɐɳʱa: ] ?

Is the standard "H" (in "arahant") the voiceless one [ h ] or the voiced one [ ɦ ] ? The wikipedia page says it's [ h ], but apparently in Sanskrit "H" is [ ɦ ] and "Ḥ" is [ h ] so...

In Pāḷi the short "A" is pronounced [ ɐ ] right ? The wikipedia page says the short "A" in Sanskrit is pronounced [ ə ], I'm a little bit confused as to why these 2 languages would've used 2 different phonemes.

What are the feminine forms of "Māra", "Nāga", "Rakkhasa" and "Asura" ? I would guess "Mārā", "Nāgī "/"Nāginī ", "Rakkhasī " and "Asurī " but I'm not sure.

Are "Yakkhī " and "Yakkhinī " both equally correct ? Or is one of them better/more faithful to Pāḷi ?

By the way the feminine forms like "Bhikkhunī " and "Yakkhinī " use the standard "N" right, not the retroflex "Ṇ" ?

Is the "C" pronounced [ tʃ ] or [ tɕ ] ? Same question for "J", [ dʒ ] or [ dʑ ] ?

How do you write "arahant" in Devanāgarī ?

Thanks for reading ~

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Dhammanando
Posts: 4842
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
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Re: Just a few questions on pronunciation, spelling and grammar

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:12 am

Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
How is "R" pronounced in Pāḷi ?
This isn't known as the phonetic descriptions in the old grammars don't go into enough detail for us to determine exactly which kind of rhotic consonant it is. In each country the sound is realized according to whatever consonant comes closest in the native phonetic system. And so the Sinhalese and Thais, for example, realize it as an alveolar trill [r], the Burmese as a palatal approximant [j], Hindi speakers as a retroflex flap [ɽ], etc.
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
Is the "H" in "Taṇhā" pronounced as a distinct phoneme [ tɐɳha: ] or is it combined with the retroflex "N" to create an aspirate retroflex "N" [ tɐɳʱa: ] ?
The former; it's the initial of a new syllable: taṇ-hā.
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
Is the standard "H" (in "arahant") the voiceless one [ h ] or the voiced one [ ɦ ] ? The wikipedia page says it's [ h ], but apparently in Sanskrit "H" is [ ɦ ] and "Ḥ" is [ h ] so...
The oldest Pali grammar classes it as a ghosa, a voiced consonant:

Tattha 'ghosā' nāma:
ga gha ṅa, ja jha ña, ḍa ḍha ṇa, da dha na, ba bha ma, ya ra la va ha ḷa, iti 'ghosā' nāma.

'Aghosā' nāma:
ka kha, ca cha, ṭa ṭha, ta tha, pa pha, sa, iti 'aghosā' nāma.

(Kaccāyana, aphorism 9)
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
In Pāḷi the short "A" is pronounced [ ɐ ] right ? The wikipedia page says the short "A" in Sanskrit is pronounced [ ə ], I'm a little bit confused as to why these 2 languages would've used 2 different phonemes.
Here we have the same problem as with R: an insufficiently detailed phonetic description in the old grammars. 'A' could be any of half a dozen back vowels.

.
IPA vowels.png
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
What are the feminine forms of "Māra", "Nāga", "Rakkhasa" and "Asura" ? I would guess "Mārā", "Nāgī "/"Nāginī ", "Rakkhasī " and "Asurī " but I'm not sure.
There isn't a feminine form of Māra. If one were to invent one it would be Mārā.

Nāga: either nāgī or nāginī, though the former is commoner.

Rakkhasa: always rakkhasī.

Asura: in Pali there's no mention of female asuras. In Sanskrit she would be an asurī.
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
Are "Yakkhī " and "Yakkhinī " both equally correct ? Or is one of them better/more faithful to Pāḷi ?
They're both correct. In the Vinaya Piṭaka it's always yakkhī; in the Sutta Piṭaka it's always yakkhinī; the commentaries use both but yakkhinī is more common.
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
By the way the feminine forms like "Bhikkhunī " and "Yakkhinī " use the standard "N" right, not the retroflex "Ṇ" ?
The dental is commoner but some MSS use the retroflex.
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
Is the "C" pronounced [ tʃ ] or [ tɕ ] ? Same question for "J", [ dʒ ] or [ dʑ ] ?
Going by the old grammars they should be [c] and [ɟ], but nowadays almost nobody pronounces them correctly because of the rarity of these sounds in modern Asian languages. As with R, people just realize them using whichever of their native consonants come closest.
Layt wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 2:55 pm
How do you write "arahant" in Devanāgarī ?
अरहन्त
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

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