Pronunciation Guide for Sanskrit Alphabet in English
Sanskrit alphabet contains lots of sounds that follow a definite pattern. The consonants are categorized according to their pronouncing style. There are lots of sounds that are produced by combining two consonants. Apart from this, there is a concept of using the half sound, which is prevalent is many other languages of the world. However, the complete letter has a conjunct sound of any consonant with the vowel अ. In Microsoft Windows, Mangal font is used for writing Sanskrit Alphabet, which is not appropriate for fully displaying the Sanskrit letters and Sanskrit words.
Below is the list of Sanskrit Alphabet and some examples of English language where the same sound is used. It is noticeable here that all the sounds of Sanskrit Alphabet can’t be produced in English and therefore no potent example could be provided for them.
Vowels in Sanskrit Alphabet
अ As ‘a’ in mal
आ Stressed अ
इ As ‘I’ in ill
ई As ‘e’ in eke
उ As ‘u’ in Ubuntu
ऊ As ‘ou’ in you
ऋ As ‘rhy’ in rhythm
ॠ Conjugated sound of ‘r’ and ‘rhy’ as above
ए As ‘e’ in par se
ऐ As ‘a’ in as
ओ As ‘o’ in go
औ Stressed and long sound of ‘o’
Consonants in Sanskrit Alphabet
क As ‘k’ in kite
ख Coupled sound of ‘k’, ‘h’= ‘kh’
ग As ‘g’ in gun
घ Coupled sound of ‘g’, ‘h’= ‘gh’
ङ As ‘gn’ in gnome. Does not produce a particular sound: Just used for articulation of tongue while pronouncing the next word
च As ‘ch’ in chair
छ This sound is not available in English. The tongue touches a bit away (to the inner side) from the teeth while pronouncing ‘ch’ as in chair.
ज As ‘j’ in jug
झ This sound is not available in English. The is produced using the naval sounds while the tongue touches the upper part of mouth cavity.
ञ Just like ‘gn’ of gnome with a slight up movement of tongue. No particular sound just articulation while speaking.
ट As ‘t’ in top
ठ Hard sound of ‘t’. Not available in English.
ड As ‘d’ in dark
ढ Coupled sound of ‘d’ and ‘h’= ‘dh’. Not available in English but as ‘dh’ in Indian musical instrument ‘dhol’.
ण Nasal sound when the tongue touches a bit away from teeth. In न, the tongue touches the roots of the teeth.
त Soft sound of ‘t’ as used in the name of country Bharat
थ As ‘th’ in thermo
द As ‘th’ in the
ध Not available in English. Again, naval sound produced by coupling soft ‘d’ and ‘h’= ‘dh’.
न As ‘n’ in man
प As ‘p’ in push
फ Sound of ‘f’ if pronounced with closed lips. ‘f’ of German language.
ब As ‘b’ in ban
भ Not available in English. Coupled sound of ‘b’ and ‘h’= ‘bh’.
म As ‘m’ in mass
य As ‘y’ in yacht
र As ‘r’ in run
ल As ‘l’ in love
व As ‘v’ in vowel
श As ‘sh’ in shot
ष Sound of ‘sh’ when the tongue touches the roots of the teeth. In श, the tongue touches the upper part of mouth cavity.
स As ‘s’ in sound
ह As ‘h’ in has
ज्ञ Coupled sound of ‘j’ and ‘n’= ‘jn’
त्र Coupled sound of soft ‘t’ and ‘r’= ‘tr’.
क्ष Coupled sound of ‘k’, ‘s’, ‘h’= ‘ksh’. A bit similar to ‘x’
श्र Coupled sound of ‘s’, ‘h’, ‘r’= ‘shr’. As ‘shr’ in shroud
Symbols used in Sanskrit Alphabet
ँ Sound of ‘n’ with the previous consonant along with some other symbols used for that consonant
ं Sound of ‘m’ with the previous consonant
ः Sound of ‘h’ with the previous consonant
ा Sound of stressed ‘a’ with the previous consonant
ि Sound of ‘i’ as in ill with the previous consonant
ी Sound of ‘e’ as in eke with the previous consonant
ु Sound of ‘u’ as in Ubuntu with the previous consonant
ू Sound of ‘ou’ as in you with the previous consonant
ृ Sound of ‘rhy’ as in rhythm with the previous consonant
ॄ Double sound of ‘rhy’ as in rhythm with the previous consonant
ॅ Used for transliteration. Giving the up sound to the symbol used.
े Sound of ‘ai’ as in aim with the previous consonant
ै Sound of ‘a’ as in as with the previous consonant
ॉ Sound of ‘a’ as in ball with the previous consonant
ो Sound of ‘o’ as in go with the previous consonant
ौ Stressed sound of ‘o’
् Halant. This is used to make the consonant half making it disjointed from the sound of अ.
। Symbol of ‘.’ Full stop in English.
Numeric symbols used in Sanskrit (0-9)
Apart from these symbols, there are two types of half-sound of ‘r’ that is used in Sanskrit. One after the bearing consonant and one before the bearing consonant. The symbol is not present as such in the Mangal Font but can be made by pressing the Shift+3 keys. This symbol will put the half-sound of ‘r’ in the foot of the consonant and its sound would come after the consonant. Typing र and then using the key ‘d’ to make it half and then pressing the next consonant would make the symbol of ‘r’ that is sounded before the bearing consonant. This symbol will be placed above the consonant. Sanskrit is one of the official languages used in India.
Unfortunately, Sanskrit has many other letters that can’t be shown with the help of Mangal font. So, some of them has to be learned (variation of these basic sounds) separately.