"V"s in Sanskrit

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Greg
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"V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Greg » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:24 pm

With regard to:

Resounding Sanskrit Buddhist Literature: Recordings of the Buddha's Heritage.

http://www.bodhisvara.com

Listening along it is evident to me that, at least as presented on this website, in spoken Sanskrit the letter V sometimes sounds like a V and sometimes like a W. Is there a general rule governing the difference?

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Konchog1
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Konchog1 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:54 am

I recall Malcolm telling me that if it's the first letter in the word it's 'V'. Otherwise it's 'W'.
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MiphamFan
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by MiphamFan » Thu Jun 18, 2015 5:51 am

It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:15 am

MiphamFan wrote:It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.
Excellent! Thanks!

Does it never undergo transformation due to phonological rules based on morphology? Is this specifically "Brahmin Sanskrit" we are discussing here?

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Malcolm
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:33 pm

MiphamFan wrote:It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.

That really clears things up.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Greg
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Greg » Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:28 pm

MiphamFan wrote:It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.
That is really just kicking the can down to the road. What I am asking is, is there a general rule for when does it sounds (to unfamiliar ears) like a V and when it sounds like a W?

MiphamFan
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by MiphamFan » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:32 pm

Greg wrote:
MiphamFan wrote:It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.
That is really just kicking the can down to the road. What I am asking is, is there a general rule for when does it sounds (to unfamiliar ears) like a V and when it sounds like a W?
I am sorry but this is a very silly question.

In no case is it ever a /v/ or /w/ at all. It is always a labiodental approximant. Do you want to go back the authentic phonology or subjective impressions of your own brain?

In French and German there is the /y/ sound as in French "tu" or German "über". It sounds like /i/ or /u/ to people unfamiliar with it but it never actually is either sound. Your question is like asking when /y/ should sound like /i/ or /u/.

You should just learn the proper sound instead.

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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by MiphamFan » Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:16 am

tomamundsen wrote:
MiphamFan wrote:It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.
Excellent! Thanks!

Does it never undergo transformation due to phonological rules based on morphology? Is this specifically "Brahmin Sanskrit" we are discussing here?
This is called sandhi, in some situations the /u/ vowel does become the labiodental approximant, but the labiodental approximant itself always remains as such.

Greg
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Greg » Fri Jun 19, 2015 5:49 pm

MiphamFan wrote:
Greg wrote:
MiphamFan wrote:It's neither /w/ nor /v/.

It's a labiodental approximant. Sometimes it sounds more like /w/ or /v/ to your ears if you are unfamiliar with the sound.
That is really just kicking the can down to the road. What I am asking is, is there a general rule for when does it sounds (to unfamiliar ears) like a V and when it sounds like a W?
I am sorry but this is a very silly question.

In no case is it ever a /v/ or /w/ at all. It is always a labiodental approximant. Do you want to go back the authentic phonology or subjective impressions of your own brain?

In French and German there is the /y/ sound as in French "tu" or German "über". It sounds like /i/ or /u/ to people unfamiliar with it but it never actually is either sound. Your question is like asking when /y/ should sound like /i/ or /u/.

You should just learn the proper sound instead.
Are you saying that to trained ears it always sounds the same and they can never detect a difference?

Further, it is not a silly question. I am curious about why it sometimes sounds to me one way and sometimes sounds another. That is a perfectly legitimate thing to be curious about. If you are hung up on English equivalences we could just call them Sound A and Sound B.

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Malcolm
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jun 19, 2015 5:59 pm

Greg wrote:
Are you saying that to trained ears it always sounds the same and they can never detect a difference?

Further, it is not a silly question. I am curious about why it sometimes sounds to me one way and sometimes sounds another. That is a perfectly legitimately thing to be curious about. If you are hung up on English equivalences we could just call them Sound A and Sound B.
In Kashmir, this sound was pronounced B as in Baj[z]ra (or as it is today in Nepal) , as noted by Sakya Pandita in How to Pronounce Mantras. It is pronounced Wa, according to his ear, by Central Indians.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

MiphamFan
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by MiphamFan » Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:03 pm

Tibetan ba or wa itself might have been a labiodental approximant in his time. It is in some modern Kham dialects still.

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Malcolm
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:37 am

MiphamFan wrote:Tibetan ba or wa itself might have been a labiodental approximant in his time. It is in some modern Kham dialects still.
Dude, the only people who know what a "labiodental approximant" is are modern linguists. Not even Sanskritists know WTF this is. Honestly. You are being a trifle ridiculous and unhelpful here.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Greg
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Greg » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:07 am

Malcolm wrote:
Greg wrote:
Are you saying that to trained ears it always sounds the same and they can never detect a difference?

Further, it is not a silly question. I am curious about why it sometimes sounds to me one way and sometimes sounds another. That is a perfectly legitimately thing to be curious about. If you are hung up on English equivalences we could just call them Sound A and Sound B.
In Kashmir, this sound was pronounced B as in Baj[z]ra (or as it is today in Nepal) , as noted by Sakya Pandita in How to Pronounce Mantras. It is pronounced Wa, according to his ear, by Central Indians.
Yes, that is a whole other kettle of worms. I was wondering about the pronunciation as featured on bodhisvara.com - although I certainly wouldn't know what kind of regional bias is operative there, if any.

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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by bharadwaja » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:18 pm

The romanization of sanskrit (using latin alphabets to transcribe the language) was a practice introduced in the early 19th century by Europeans to make Sanskrit more accessible to themselves. At the time, they used the latin alphabet v to denote both v and u (as was the standard practice in classical latin). So wherever you find v in romanized sanskrit, keep in mind it may not be necessarily a 'v' sound in native pronounciation, but more-often a w sound.

In sanskrit the practice is to write consonants usually as akṣaras (i.e. syllables with a vowel at the end).

So the akṣara wa (or va) is described as a sandhi-akṣara. It is formed when the vowels u & a come together (wa=u+a), just as ya = i+a. The pure consonant form (with the 'a' at the end removed from the syllable) would be pronounced identical to the vowel u, so actually there is no pure-consonant called v/w in sanskrit.

Since w is closer in pronunciation to u, it should normally be pronounced as w (rather than as the v sound), even though it is written as v following european conventions.

However in practice one can come across some sanskrit speakers pronouncing it as v, except it would sound slightly odd to the trained ear.

To explain further about sandhyākṣaras:

a + i = e (originally ai)
ā + i = ai (originally āi)
a + u = o (originally au)
ā + u = au (originally āu)
a + r̥ = ar
ā + r̥ = ār
i + a = ya
i + ā = yā
u + a = va/wa
u + ā = vā/wā

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Kaccāni
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Kaccāni » Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:11 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labiodental_approximant

With audio track. South German dialects know this as a sloppy "w". A sloppy "v" as in "vet", but voiced, for English types.

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Bakmoon
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Bakmoon » Sat Aug 15, 2015 2:36 am

The labiodental approximant is one of those funny intermediate sounds that English speakers have a hard time pinning down. The easiest way for me to describe how to make it is to put your lower lip in the place you do to make a V sound (that is, on the edge of your teeth), move your lower lip inside the mouth so that if you closed your mouth you would bite your lower lip, and make a W sound with just your bottom lip.

It's a lot easier to do than it is to describe. Basically you make a w sound with only your bottom lip, keeping your upper lip still. At least that's how this sound is made in spanish, which sometimes uses this sound as a pronunciation of the letter b.

Here's a video that shows a cross section of the mouth when you make the sound. Note how the lower lip starts behind the teeth and just moves forward.

tingdzin
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by tingdzin » Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:19 am

Wow, thanks Bakmoon, bharadwaja, and MiphamFan. I appreciate your preciseness, even if I have to learn something new to get what you're saying. This question was asked on e-sangha a long time ago, but your replies are better.

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Reibeam
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Reibeam » Mon Aug 17, 2015 5:36 am

Malcolm wrote:
MiphamFan wrote:Tibetan ba or wa itself might have been a labiodental approximant in his time. It is in some modern Kham dialects still.
Dude, the only people who know what a "labiodental approximant" is are modern linguists. Not even Sanskritists know WTF this is. Honestly. You are being a trifle ridiculous and unhelpful here.

When I first heard the term "labiodental" I neither thought of a "V" or "W" sound, but I did think of the sound "ouch" :tongue:

tingdzin
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by tingdzin » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:55 am

While all you linguists are here, is there an easily accessible (digital or affordable book) on the phonetic differences between Tibetan dialects?

Yudron
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Re: "V"s in Sanskrit

Post by Yudron » Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:39 pm

Tingdzin, here are some samples of people with various Tibetan dialects and languages saying the same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siyr8zxoVOA

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