Sanskrit-Hindi: The consonant ळ

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Qureshpor, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I would like to know what ळ stands for. I have always assumed that this is a retroflex l, as found in some dialects of Punjabi. Is this correct and is it used in any dialects of Hindi? What does the subscript dot consonat (ऴ) depict?
  2. Au101 Senior Member

    England, English (UK)
    You're quite right, the ळ (and its aspirated form) was used in Vedic Sanskrit (the consonant was completely lost in Classical Sanskrit) and was used for the retrfolex lateral approximant (retroflex l /ɭ/). I don't think it is common in Hindi at all, except perhaps in non-Hindi words which contain this sound. It is used in Marathi, however.

    The ळ consonant is apparently also similar in pronunciation to the retroflex lateral flap which is similar to the Tamil ழ. I believe the subscript dot is generally used specifically for this phoneme, for example, when transliterating 'Tamil' in a Hindi text. However, I think the distinction is vague, especially in Marathi phonology, so perhaps somebody more familiar with Marathi or Vedic Sanskrit could help. I only really know Classical Sanskrit, so can at least assure you that this sound is lost in Classical Sanskrit and only appeared in Vedic Sanskrit. An interesting sidenote may also be that when I showed my Hindi speaking friend my efforts at learning Devanagari (and had practised by copying out some text from one of the Vedas) he was thoroughly confused by this symbol, which suggests that it is not extremely common - however since we both live in England, this friend does have little use for written Hindi, so perhaps that has something to do with it.
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you for your detailed reply from our "green and pleasant land"*. You have clarified my question considerably. I did n't know there was an aspirated form as well! My mother's side of the family employ the ळ and I can pronounce it if I make a conscious effort. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the retroflex lateral flap!

    * It is not so green today! In fact where I am it is almost white, everything is covered with frost!
  4. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    If you consider Rajasthani a dialect of Hindi, which many linguists DON'T, then some Hindi dialects have retroflex L.


    I too assumed was simply a retroflex 'l'; however sources I find say it is more like a retroflex flap. Consider : "The consonant ḷ(ळ) is frequently used in Rajasthani, which also occurs in vedic and some prakrits, is pronounced by placing the tongue on the top of the hard palate and flapping it forward." and "यह अक्षर "ळ (ḷ)" हरयाणवी, राजस्थानी और मराठी भाषाओं में खूब प्रयोग होता है। हिन्दी भाषा, जो आम तौर पर लखनऊ और बनारस के पास बोली जाती है, उसमें इसका प्रयोग इतना नहीं है । बाकी प्रदेशों जैसे राजस्थान, महाराष्ट्र, पश्चिमी उत्तर प्रदेश, पंजाब, हरयाणा, दिल्ली आदि में इस अक्षर का बोलने में खूब प्रयोग होता है । हिन्दी प्रेमियों को चाहिये कि वे इस अक्षर को हिन्दी वर्णमाला में शामिल करवाने के लिए जोर डालें । उसका उच्चारण 'ल' और 'ड़' के बीच का है । कुछ नमूने नीचे देखिये - हिन्दी रूप कोष्ठ में लिखे गए हैं ।"

    Partial Translation: This letter is often used in the Harayani, Rajasthani and Marathi languages. In the Hindi language, which is generally spoken around Lucknow and Benares, it is not used. In the rest of the states such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Western U.P., Panjab, Haryana, and Dilli etc, it is often used.

    "The Indo-Aryan Langauges"
    By Colin P. Masica also describes it as a retroflex lateral flap.

    Does this match the description of the Retroflex L in Panjabi?
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
  5. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you Tony. I am afraid I am not very good at describing the goings on in the buccal cavity. To my ears, there seems to be a fine line between the R and the L. Sorry, I can't be any more precise than this.
  6. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    The ळ is indeed a retroflex lateral flap, but I don't think it's part of Hindi orthography. It is, however, very common in Marathi, and all 4 major South Indian languages—Kannada (
    ), Telugu (), Malayaalam () and Tamil (more accurately, Thamizh) (
    . Malayaalam and Thamizh have another variety, as Au101 mentioned, but that is phonetically not the same as ळ.

    Also, it's part of Rajasthani and Haryanvi phonology. Often, when I want to make my Hindi sound Rajasthani/Haryaanvi accented, I switch the ल to ळ and न to ण :D


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