Sanskrit: Rules for the Anusvaara?

Gloomy_Evening

New Member
German - Germany
Hi!

I was recently looking up the meaning of the Anusvaara symbol in some old treatises, and to me it boiled down to the following meanings:

- it is a substitutional homoorganic sound dependent on the next consonant (ṁ before dental t becomes dental n)
- it is a pure nasal
- it is a nasalized vowel corresponding to the previous vowel, or it simply nasalizes the preceding one.
- म् or न् at the end of a word. Sometimes even म् or न् in the middle of a word, independent of the next letter.

So, my question is: can anyone explain the indicators to tell, which of these applys? Thanks in advance :)
 
  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Hi!

    I was recently looking up the meaning of the Anusvaara symbol in some old treatises, and to me it boiled down to the following meanings:

    - it is a substitutional homoorganic sound dependent on the next consonant (ṁ before dental t becomes dental n)
    - it is a pure nasal
    - it is a nasalized vowel corresponding to the previous vowel, or it simply nasalizes the preceding one.
    - म् or न् at the end of a word. Sometimes even म् or न् in the middle of a word, independent of the next letter.

    So, my question is: can anyone explain the indicators to tell, which of these applys? Thanks in advance :)


    Yes, this bit is always true about one possible realization of anusvara.
    While this is probably the oftest repeated description of anusvara, I find it imprecise. It is possible that this means the same thing as the next point, and that is the other possible realization of anusvara. I am, however, not 100% sure about this point. The implication, in any case, is that any anusvara can be pronounced in two ways, i.e. using or ignoring assimilation to the next consonant. I personally use the assimilated version almost always, as the characteristics of the other one are not completely clear to me.
    Actually, mostly underlying म् but also न् under more limited conditions. What it means is that when a morpheme ending in a -m is followed by another morpheme starting in any consonant (they can also occur across word boundary) the -m is replaced by an anusvara, which is pronounced according to the previous rules. This is, in effect, one of the sandhi rules. There are similar rules for conversion of morpheme final -n to anusvara, but they are less general.

    So, the last point describes the principal (or maybe only?) source of anusvara,
    while the other points describe its pronunciation.

    As you see, potentially they all apply.
     
    Last edited:

    Gloomy_Evening

    New Member
    German - Germany
    Yes, this bit is always true about one possible realization of anusvara.
    While this is probably the oftest repeated description of anusvara, I find it imprecise. It is possible that this means the same thing as the next point, and that is the other possible realization of anusvara. I am, however, not 100% sure about this point. The implication, in any case, is that any anusvara can be pronounced in two ways, i.e. using or ignoring assimilation to the next consonant. I personally use the assimilated version almost always, as the characteristics of the other one are not completely clear to me.
    Actually, mostly underlying म् but also न् under more limited conditions. What it means is that when a morpheme ending in a -m is followed by another morpheme starting in any consonant (they can also occur across word boundary) the -m is replaced by an anusvara, which is pronounced according to the previous rules. This is, in effect, one of the sandhi rules. There are similar rules for conversion of morpheme final -n to anusvara, but they are less general.

    So, the last point describes the principal (or maybe only?) source of anusvara,
    while the other points describe its pronunciation.

    As you see, potentially they all apply.

    Thank you, it's clearer to me now :) I mostly use the assimilation method too, but according to Whitney's "A Sanskrit Grammar", and partly German Wikipedia one cannot do this before a semivowel, sibilant, or ह.

    The latter for example says saṁsāra is pronounced sãsāra! So even saṁskṛtam should be affected, but I never heard this nasal vowel pronounciation. Eventually it's due to Hindi influence?
    Also this "pure nasal" seems to be a sound on its own. I hope someone can shed a light on this.

    A dictionary will tell you in each case.

    The ones I've seen, weren't that indepth. Can you recommend one?
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    The latter for example says saṁsāra is pronounced sãsāra! So even saṁskṛtam should be affected, but I never heard this nasal vowel pronounciation. Eventually it's due to Hindi influence?

    I tend to pronounce this with the velar nasal [ŋ], i.e. as though it were sangsāra.

    The description of it as a nasalised vowel is, as far as I know, more commonly associated with the candrabindu, often called anunāsika, reflecting that description (अँ). This, of course, is rarely encountered. In Vedic the situation is more complicated. In Hindi, there is a more functional distinction between अं and अँ.

    To be honest, I personally think you could write an entire book on the pronunciation of that little dot and still not arrive at a complete answer, but Dib has made an admirable effort, which may just do the trick!
     

    tonyspeed

    Senior Member
    English & Creole - Jamaica
    Thank you, it's clearer to me now :) I mostly use the assimilation method too, but according to Whitney's "A Sanskrit Grammar", and partly German Wikipedia one cannot do this before a semivowel, sibilant, or ह.

    The latter for example says saṁsāra is pronounced sãsāra! So even saṁskṛtam should be affected, but I never heard this nasal vowel pronounciation. Eventually it's due to Hindi influence?
    Also this "pure nasal" seems to be a sound on its own. I hope someone can shed a light on this.



    The ones I've seen, weren't that indepth. Can you recommend one?

    I mistakenly thought you were refering to Hindi. Now I realise you are asking about Sanskrit.
     
    Top