Sanskrit: विसर्ग

gulab jamun

Banned
urdu-pakistan
Hi everyone. How is विसर्ग pronounced in Sanskrit? I thought it was the unvoiced counterpart of ह. Of course, I had no idea how to pronounce it because none of the languages I know have an h sound that is unvoiced. In fact, I don’t think there are any living languages that have an unvoiced h. Anyway, that’s beside the point. What I wanted to ask was what is the correct pronunciation of विसर्ग? Wikipedia says that it is an unvoiced pharyngeal fricative, exactly like the Arabic ح. Could someone verify this? The example Wikipedia gives is देवः / devaḥ

Thanks.
 
  • Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    I had no idea how to pronounce it because none of the languages I know have an h sound that is unvoiced. In fact, I don’t think there are any living languages that have an unvoiced h.

    What about English?

    In Sanskrit, ह is voiced, which is actually different to the English h, which is not voiced.

    The traditional pronunciation of visarga is /h/ (as in English unvoiced /h/), followed by a short "echo-vowel". So इः is pronounced ihi, with the second i being very short, as in ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः you may perhaps have heard the famous chant pronounced Oṃ śāntiś śāntiś śāntihi.

    The original pronunciation was likely /h/ (as in English unvoiced /h/) with no "echo-vowel" at all.

    All that I have just said refers to visarga at the end of a sentence or pāda.

    You may know, if you've studied Sanskrit a bit, that sounds change a lot depending on what follows. So in Classical and Vedic Sanskrit it is pronounced s before स, ś before श (see above) and before ष.

    In Vedic it was likely pronounced similar to Urdu خ before क and ख and like an f, but without the teeth actually touching the lips (IPA: ɸ), before प and फ. The first pronunciation is also known as jihvāmūlīya and may be written with a different character and the second is called upadhmānīya
     
    Last edited:

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Hi everyone. How is विसर्ग pronounced in Sanskrit? I thought it was the unvoiced counterpart of ह. Of course, I had no idea how to pronounce it because none of the languages I know have an h sound that is unvoiced. In fact, I don’t think there are any living languages that have an unvoiced h. Anyway, that’s beside the point. What I wanted to ask was what is the correct pronunciation of विसर्ग? Wikipedia says that it is an unvoiced pharyngeal fricative, exactly like the Arabic ح. Could someone verify this? The example Wikipedia gives is देवः / devaḥThanks.
    I thought Urdu or Hindi h (as in ham/we) was voiceless whereas in Punjabi (if you know the language), it is voiced as in "haTT paraaN" (pare haT).
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    I thought Urdu or Hindi h (as in ham/we) was voiceless whereas in Punjabi (if you know the language), it is voiced as in "haTT paraaN" (pare haT).

    I would definitely say you're right about Punjabi.

    The ever-reliable wikipedia claims

    The fricative /ɦ/ in Hindustani is typically voiced (as [ɦ]), especially when surrounded by vowels, but there is no phonemic difference between this voiceless fricative and its voiced counterpart (Hindustani's ancestor Sanskrit has such a phonemic distinction).

    Which does tally with things I've read. But for a language as widely spoken and varied as Hindi/Urdu, I think trying to making strong claims about pronunciation is a bit of a losing battle.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you @Au101. I am only going by how I pronounce Urdu and Punjabi "haT(T)" as an example. Others speech pattern may not tally with mine.
     
    Top