Sanskrit-Hindi: The consonant ळ

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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?
 
  • 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.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    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.
    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!
     

    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.

    See: http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-documents/lsi/ling_rajasthan.html


    I too assumed was simply a retroflex 'l'; however sources I find say it is more like a retroflex flap. Consider http://www.jatland.com/home/Rajasthani_Language_Grammar : "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:

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    If you consider Rajasthani a dialect of Hindi, which many linguists DON'T, then some Hindi dialects have retroflex L.

    See: http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-documents/lsi/ling_rajasthan.html


    I too assumed was simply a retroflex 'l'; however sources I find say it is more like a retroflex flap. Consider http://www.jatland.com/home/Rajasthani_Language_Grammar : "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?
    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.
     

    Illuminatus

    Senior Member
    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) (
    ள்)
    . 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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    FedeO

    Member
    Castellano, Argentina
    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.

    Hello,
    Your answer is very interesting.
    Do you know how to write ळ in IAST?
    Thank you
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Does anyone know where it would be possible to hear this letter being pronounced? I remember learning about it when I took a course on Classical Sanskrit some years ago (we were taught that it no longer exists in classical Sanskrit, as Au101 mentioned above), but have no idea what it sounds like. Thanks to anyone who can point me in the right direction.
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Does anyone know where it would be possible to hear this letter being pronounced? I remember learning about it when I took a course on Classical Sanskrit some years ago (we were taught that it no longer exists in classical Sanskrit, as Au101 mentioned above), but have no idea what it sounds like. Thanks to anyone who can point me in the right direction.
    Hoping this next sentence will be taken the right way: I'd say you'd have to have a good ear to spot the difference from a YouTube clip but the second word of the Ṛg-Veda is ईळे. You can hear it pronounced nicely in this recording of the first hymn of the Ṛg-Veda:


    Agním īḷe puróhitaṃ yajñásya devám ṛtvíjam etc.

    The sound is also preserved in modern Marathi and is a common sound in other languages such as Tamil and exists as an allophone in many other languages from all over the world, including French and Korean.

    But as I say, you need a good ear if you don't speak a language that distinguishes /l/ from /ɭ/
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I speak French and I never- consciously- noticed this before. Thanks for the example and reference, it's very interesting.
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    I speak French and I never- consciously- noticed this before. Thanks for the example and reference, it's very interesting.
    Well, I'm afraid I'm only going off of Wikipedia, although a reference is provided to Peter Ladefoged, who certainly knew what he was talking about.

    According to Wikipedia, for some speakers (perhaps not all) of standard French (I couldn't vouch for Québécois or any other variety of Canadian French), [ɭ] is an allophone of /l/ before /f/ and /ʒ/, e.g. <belle jambe> may be realised [bɛɭ ʒɑ̃b]
     
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