Post No. 10,869

Date uploaded in London – –    20 APRIL  2022         

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People who don’t speak Sanskrit don’t know the nuances of the spoken language. Here is a beautiful example from ‘Vedic Religion and Culture’ by P L Bhargava, Year 1994):-

“According to several western scholars , the so called cerebral consonants of Sanskrit are not found in other Indo – European languages. This is totally a wrong belief .

“The truth is that since most western scholars of Sanskrit have no opportunity of hearing Sanskrit spoken, they do not know the real difference between the sounds of the Sanskrit dentals and cerebrals and hence make no attempt, as admitted by a western scholar himself (E D Perry in A Sanskrit Primer) to distinguish the cerebrals from the dentals. As a matter of fact, the English language itself has both dental and cerebral sounds.

For example while the sound of ‘th’ in the word ‘They’ corresponds to the sound of the dental of the Sanskrit, the sound of ‘d’ in ‘Day’ as pronounced by Englishmen and North Americans corresponds exactly to the sound of the cerebral ‘d’ of Sanskrit.

The writer of these pages (Mr Bhargava) had the opportunity of teaching Sanskrit to numerous Western students. Since the third letter of the both the dental and cerebral groups of Sanskrit are in the Roman script represented by the same letter ‘d’, they pronounced the dental ‘d’ of Sanskrit also as the cerebral ‘d’ but once they were told the sound of the dental ‘d of Sanskrit corresponds to the sound of  ‘th’ in the English words ‘they’ ‘the’ them’ , they immediately corrected their pronunciation .

Similarly , while the sound of ‘th’ in ‘cathedral’ and other words like thick, thin, three, through etc corresponds to the dental ‘th’ of Sanskrit, the sound of the same combination in ‘cathead’ corresponds to the sound of cerebral ‘th’ of Sanskrit.

Likewise while the sound of ‘thh’ in ‘withhold’ corresponds to the sound of the dental ‘dh’ of Sanskrit , the sound of ‘dh’ in ‘adhere’ corresponds to the sound of  cerebral ‘dh’ in Sanskrit.”



I (London swaminathan) taught Tamil at SOAS, University of London, for 20 years as a part time tutor. Tamil has two different ‘R’, three different ‘N’ and three different ‘L’ sounds.. I found it difficult to teach them because there are no corresponding sounds in European languages. Writing them in Roman script also confused them. Tamil is unique in having the retroflex L sound as found in Pazam/fruit.

Even after teaching them for several days they pronounced it ‘Parram’  and they wrote it that way in Roman script. I think that it is because they don’t have similar sound in their languages. The reason I am writing this is, the westerners make strange theories out of their ignorance.

Kanchi Paramacharya (1894-1994) explained all these issues very clearly by giving several examples. Tamils used to boast that we are the only language in the world that has this special retroflex L (Pazam/fruit) sound. But Kanchi Paramacharya shows that it is in Pauzia in the name of Rig Veda.

In short, we think that short vowel ‘e’ and ‘o’ did not exist in Sanskrit in the vowels. But there are sounds with this short vowel e and o in spoken language.

All Indian languages have two forms what is known as diglossia. So, I found it very difficult to teach Western students in London both the forms. I used to tell them “Learn grammatical written Tamil in the class and go to Tamil Nadu to see temples and eat Masala Dosa, Idli, Vadai  and Pongal and you will easily learn Spoken Tamil.”

I read in Madurai Dr S Ramkrishnan’s Tamil book (year 1971) about ‘Indian culture and Tamils’ that the retroflex and cerebral consonants are absent in Avestan where as the Rig Veda and Dravidian languages have it and so Aryans learnt it from the Indus Valley Dravidians. This is not his theory. He repeated what the so called linguistic half bakeds said. ‘J’ sound existed only in the Rig Veda among ancient languages. It is not in Avestan or in so called Dravidian languages. Where did the so called Aryans get it? Why J is not found in Greek or Avestan? Today they use J but it was pronounced Y; all of us know about Yesu becoming Jesus, Yudha becoming Jew, Yusuf becoming Joseph, Yazpanam becoming Jaffna etc.

(But manjal/turmeric has this sound; we don’t know whether turmeric was pronounced Man’ja’l or Man’cha’l 2000 years ago.

The migratory route of J shows that Hindus spread culture and language to the other parts of the world. I was writing that the greatest contribution of Vedic Hindus to the world are

1.Cows and Milk

2.Horse and wheeled cart

3.Numbers (zero and Decimal system)

But after reading Lachhmi Dhar Kalla’s book (see first part of this article) I wanted to add as No.1 contribution:

as ‘Language ,Etymology and Grammar’.

The amazing thing about Hindus is they learnt all these as part of Vedic studies before Homer started writing Iliad and Odyssey, before Tamil language existed.


Coming back to our topic,

Pronunciation is different from what is written.

Some examples from European languages :

Pizza , Nazi  (T sound is inserted when you say it)

NorWich, GreenWich (W is silent)

Psycholgy, Knowledge, Wrong (First letter is silent)

Director ( Di and Dai are accepted)

San Jose (Sanose; J is silent)

Francois (Franswa is he correct pronunciation)

Let us forget American English spellings for the time being and move to Tamil

Nanri/thanks  (prounced nanDri; D sound is added like Pizza and Nazi)

Narrinai (naTrinai; T sound is inserted); it is a Tamil book.

So please dont get  fooled by what is written; In the same way Sanskrit may not have short e and short o; but they are pronounced by the natives)

Westerners were not practising Hindus or speakers of Sanskrit. Most of them were half bakeds. It is like my friend in remote Tamil village Kottampatti writing about Empire State Building in America or Toronto tower in Canada, because he is also a builder in Tamil Nadu.

Many laughable things were said by the so called Giants in Linguistics.

The use of Coda for Choza existed from Fifth century BCE  Vartika, Asokan Inscriptions and Telugu Codas of very late periods. Why did they use D instead of Za of Tamils for over 1000 years?

My answer is that is the way they spoke in different areas and both are accepted. And came the English and they changed it to R in Coromandel =Choza Mandala

I gave more examples in another article :

Odyssey= Ulysses  (D=L)

Dipi (Persian)= Lipi (skt), Glyph in European D=L=G

Utkala= Orissa= now Odisah (L=R=D)

Ramadan = Ramalan = Ramzan

Choza = Coda = Coro (mondel) L=D=R

Raja = Royal= Regal = Regnal= Rayar= Rao= Rau= Raw

Urchava = Utsava = Ultsava (Malayalam)

I can add from Greece to India scores of examples.


Strange Sri Lankan Tamil

Until this day, Tamils outside Tamil Nadu write

To be continued………………..

tags- Sri Lankan Tamil, Tamil letters, Linguists, P L Bhargava, Lachhmi Dhar Kalla, Cerebrals, Retroflex, Dentals, Sanskrit

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