question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

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dylanj
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question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by dylanj » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:46 am

I know closed syllables (i.e. beginning & ending with consanant, e.g. sak in sakya) are long syllables in that they are twice the length of a short syllable. But is the vowel still pronounced as a short syllable? For example, in "sakyamuni" is the first "a" pronounced like "u" in "but" or "o" in "bot"? Is it pronounced as a long vowel ā or short vowel a, as it is spelled? Thanks.
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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mikenz66
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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:29 am

The answer to questions like these depend somewhat on the origin of the people chanting, or their teachers. Here's my amateur input based on chanting with Thai bhikkhus and lay people.

The pronunciation and "scanning" listed here https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/Chant ... n0003.html correspond to what I hear in a Thai setting.
There's an example there:
Van - - ma - haṁ ta - ma - ra - ṇaṁ si - ra - ji - nen - daṁ
…with the bolded syllables receiving a full-length beat, and the others only a half-length.
To my ear, all of the "a"s would be pronounced the same (as in "father", as suggested by the guide, though any such comparison is fraught, since different English speakers will pronounce "father" differently!), but with different lengths. "Van" and "dā" are full length because the "n" takes up some space, so "Van" is longer than "ma".

Hower, you'll find a lot of variation, and, as that guide points out, there are different styles, some with pauses, some not, so the key thing is to listen and blend...

And, of course, Sri Lankan chanting has quite a lot of differences. A more musical cadence, and some details, like the "a" at the end of a word sounds to me like an "er", e.g. "na-mo tas-sa" becomes "na-mo tas-ser".

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frank k
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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by frank k » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:44 am

I found this a much easier approach to pronunciation: I'm not sure if it's correct, but heuristically it seems to work.
Rather than for example, trying to make a pronunciation distinction between long 'ā' (like "father") and short 'a' sound (like "cut"), instead I just try to pronounce every vowel with the "long" version of the sound, and letting the temporal difference on the short automatically truncate and alter the sound of it. This doesn't work if you pronounce things very slowly. It helps more to think of "long" vowel/syllable being the standard unit of time, and the "short" being twice as fast.

So for example, the word "kāma", which has both long and short a:
The second "a", short, will end up sounding differnt than the first long "ā", because the temporal difference makes you truncate and alter the pitch/sound compared to the first long "ā".

Make sense?

So you just always pronounce all vowels with "long", and let the temporal different truncate and alter the sound of teh "short" version of trying to prounounce it long.

If you try to make a distinction by pronouncing every long vowel and short vowel with different pitch/sound, you'll find the technique breaks down and doesn't sound right in a lot of words.
http://www.audtip.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Audio Sutta Recordings

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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:53 am

That's a good tip, Frank. For English speakers different-length vowels with the same sound is a tricky concept, and takes some adjustment if one wants to speak languages that have this, such as Thai and Pali...

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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by dylanj » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:54 am

frank k wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:44 am
If you try to make a distinction by pronouncing every long vowel and short vowel with different pitch/sound, you'll find the technique breaks down and doesn't sound right in a lot of words.
I don't think this is true, at least with regard to "sound" - I don't know what you mean about pitch as there's no pitch distinctions in pali. For example:
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:28 am

dylanj wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:54 am
I don't think this is true, at least with regard to "sound" - I don't know what you mean about pitch as there's no pitch distinctions in pali. For example:
Perhaps technically not, but Thai Pali chanting tends to follow Thai tone rules. For example.


As I said, you'll find lots of different styles and pronunciations. That one differs in some minor details from how we would render it at my local Wat... Here's a more Westenized version: https://www.amaravati.org/audio/paritta ... a-page-39/ which is different again. To my ear those Amaravati recordings sound a little "square" (as opposed to "swing" - apologies for the rather ancient musical reference...).

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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by dylanj » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:28 am

I'm just wondering about the technical/historical/indic pronunciation...I understand places like Thailand & Myanmar do it their own way but I see that as divergent from pali & more reflective of their own language.
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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mikenz66
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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:19 am

Yes, well maybe listen to Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan monks, whose native languages have a strong relationship with Pali (IIRC - certainly my Bangladeshi teacher said learning Pali was a lot easier than learning Thai...).

However, things change in 2500 - is an Italian native speaker likely to know how Latin was pronounced 2000 years ago?

The chant you posted sounded Sri Lankan, judging from the "ser" endings on words like Buddhasa, but was less "musical" than a lot of Sri Lankan chanting. It did have pitch changes, though, similar to the Thai style.

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frank k
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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by frank k » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:57 am

dylanj wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:54 am
frank k wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:44 am
If you try to make a distinction by pronouncing every long vowel and short vowel with different pitch/sound, you'll find the technique breaks down and doesn't sound right in a lot of words.
I don't think this is true, at least with regard to "sound" - I don't know what you mean about pitch as there's no pitch distinctions in pali. F
I shouldn't have described it as "pitch" difference , I'm talking about the perceivable sound distinction between "long" and "short" vowels in pali.
The technique I described addresses EXACTLY your question in the OP. You need to re-read it carefully and then try out the technique instead of dismissing it out of hand.

On the audtip.org website, there are probably more than a hundred hours of pali chanting by Ven. Jiv', a Sri Lankan monk with excellent Pali pronunciation. If you listen to enough of it (noting the sound distinction between long and short vowels through a variety of text), and practice pali chanting by modeling after people who pronounce pali well, you'll get the hang of it.
http://www.audtip.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Audio Sutta Recordings

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Re: question re: pronunciation of closed syllables

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:33 am

Thanks Frank, he really is very clear. Just the introductory
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa.
on pages like https://archive.org/details/AudioTipita ... rdrjiv.mp3 are enough to work on what you said above:
Rather than for example, trying to make a pronunciation distinction between long 'ā' (like "father") and short 'a' sound (like "cut"), instead I just try to pronounce every vowel with the "long" version of the sound, and letting the temporal difference on the short automatically truncate and alter the sound of it.
[I'm used to Thai chanting, and the Sri Lankan chanting seems to use quite different tone rules, but once I get used enough to that to not find it distracting, his pronunciation is quite lovely.]

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Mike

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