Update: 2017-01-23 06:36 PM -0500


A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary

portions recovered from Internet are now included

by A. A. Macdonell, 1893,
http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/scans/MDScan/index.php?sfx=jpg 1929.
Nataraj ed., 1st in 2006, 2012

Edited, with additions from Pali sources, by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA) and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

MC-indx.htm | Top

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UKT 130828: In this volume you will see the free-vowel that is checked, and the "free nasal" {n}. Checking the intrinsic vowel such as, {ak}, {ag}, {ing}. etc. will appear in later volumes.

{a.} /a/ or // & {n} - p001-1.htm - (link broken on 170123 in anticipation of future update)
  Note: All contents moved to new p001.htm .

Vowels - the backbone of a language : acoustic phonetics
  Some contents of the above are incorporated into - MCvowcon-indx.htm (link chk 160110)
  but some should be left below. Below you will find the original "the backbone of a language"
  recovered from the Internet.
  In MCvowcon-indx.htm , you should find:
  Vowels in general - Human Voice - MC-acoustics.htm (link chk 160110)
  Ancient Langauages: BEPS & Georgian - MC-anci-lang.htm (link chk 160110)
  Comparison of Skt-Dev, Eng-IPALatin, and Bur-Myan vowels - MC-BEPS-vow.htm (link chk 160110) 
  Comparison of Skt-Dev, Eng-IPALatin, and Bur-Myan consonants - MC-BEPS-con.htm - future upload
Vocal vowels : a demonstration with "duck calls"
  - that the "Vocal vowels" was lost discovered was found only in early 2016.
  Luckily, it was still on my online website from which it has since been recovered.
Abugida-Akshara system of writing
  - different from Alphabet-Letter system of writing


UKT notes :


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Vowels - the backbone of a language

-- UKT 130828, 131002, 160109

To the Westerners, differentiation into short- and long-vowels is NOT important, whereas in the Indic languages and Bur-Myan, they are of prime importance. Based on this idea of vowel duration, we find which can form {a.wuN} or similar pairs, and which when paired are {a.a.wuN} or dissimilar. The idea of pairing is the same as the modern idea of contrastive vowels and can be explained by Daniel Jones' vowel quadrilateral.

To get a full understanding on /ɔ/, I need to study Mon-Myan.

Both Mon speech and Burmese speech uses the same basic Myanmar script, similar to French and English speeches using the basic Latin script. Myanmar script is unique in being the only language based on circularly rounded circles, except perhaps Georgian script : თ [Georgian Letter Tan] & ი [Georgian Letter In].

Mon-Myan and Bur-Myan are completely different languages. They even belong to different language groups. Mon belongs to Austro-Asiatic language group and Burmese to Tibeto-Burman group. Yet, because speakers of both languages are by religion, Theravada, they think the same way. They eat the same diet, and treat their women-folk the same with with what might amount to reverence. They place their mothers in place of honour, and treat their wives almost the same as themselves. To them the land they live on is their Mother-land. In a way both are maternalistic societies -- a trait which they probably acquired from the Pyus who had worshipped the Mother Goddess -- the Devi.

How the vowel-sounds are produced by a living human being could not be observed directly until recently, because they are produced in the voice-box deep down the throat. I came to know about it only after I have studied the Principles of Phonetics and Phonology -- still an ongoing topic for me. See my presentation,
Human voice, Phonetics and Phonology - HV-indx.htm (link chk 160110)
Unfortunately I have not looked into my presentation for a long time and it is now full of errors. In the presentation you will come across
How sound is produced and heard [former hv6.htm] - snd-hear.htm (link chk 160110)
I am giving a section from it below:

As the inset figure illustrates, the vibrations of the vocal folds are the source of speech. The buzzing produced these vibrations is passed through the vocal tract, which serves as a resonant filter, damping certain frequencies and intensifying others. The result is the characteristic sound we identify as speech.

To hear what the buzzing of the vocal folds sounds are like before it enters the vocal tract, click
excitation  <))
To hear the filtering action of the vocal tract, click
vocal tract filter <))
To hear the resultant speech, click
speech <))

UKT131002, 160109: The above sound clips are in .AIF format. They have
been changed into .MP3 format by Daw Khin Wutyi on 160109

To be more effective in teaching, how the teacher articulated the sounds should also be seen. In an article by Ruth Campbell, The processing of audio-visual speech , Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2008) 363, 10011010, download 160110, and stored in TIL SD-Library - Campbell-AudioVisual<> (link chk 160110)
she states: "To summarize, audio-visual processing is more effective than auditory processing of natural speech for two reasons. First, some segmental contrasts can be seen clearly, thus aiding speech comprehension, especially where those segments are acoustically confusable. Second, many features of an utterance can be perceived by both ear and eye: the audible and the visible patterns are highly correlated, ..."

We should realized that it is not only the articulations of speech sounds (carried by sound-waves) by the speaker, and the full hearing by the hearer that are important, but also the visual cues seen (carried by light-waves) produced by the speaker, and seen by the hearer, to get at the correct meaning of message. Augmented with the body-language, conveying ideas by speaking-hearing, and seeing the facial-movements are very important in teaching. Teaching via machines are less effective than by a live teacher in small classes.


Now that we have seen an example of continuous speech, we have to know how acoustic phoneticians are studying the individual vowels produce by various human subjects -- of different age groups, of different sexes, and of different linguistic groups. Take note that the same vowel can sound differently in time-duration, pitch, and emphasis by the same person even during a short speech. The same vowel as uttered by the same person as individual vowel, in continuous speech and in singing. The hearer depending on his L1 heard the same vowel differently. Relying on a group of trained phoneticians to judge the vowels is helpful only in a cursory study of a language. And you should remember that representing vowels in a diagram such as the quadrilateral of Daniel-Jones is an approximation at best.

The present-day study of vowels depends on the instrumental measurement of sound waves. We need to pin down the vowels for designing computer sounds and for invention of artificial speech to teach a new computer and humanoid robots. A human subject is asked to "sing" a vowel and his voice-sound is recorded. From the analysis, quantities known as Formants are derived. The quantities that are measured are F1, F2, and F3.

Below is a comparison of vowels in F1 and F2. Again an excerpt from:
How sound is produced and heard
[former hv6.htm]  - snd-hear.htm (link chk 160110).

Formants can be used to differentiate the vowels such as {o} and {au:}. These two vowels are of interest to my friend from MLC, U Tun Tint and me, because MLC transcribes the Bur-Myan {au:} /[o]/ and {o} as /[ou]/.

When I told him that in Romabama, the transliteration for is {o}, he said "that's how a man on the street {lm:pau-ka. lu} would do it." And he is right! It is usual for male Burmese friends of the same age to address each other using the prefix {ko} (such as how I address him -- {ko htwan: tn.}). If I were to write to him in English, I would address him as Ko Tun Tint.

The explanation for how this confusion had come about is on the way the English vowels /o/ and /ɑ/ are generally pronounced. The first three formants for /o/ and /ɑ/ are quite similar, and when we pronounce {au:} or {AU:}, foreigners might heard it as /o/. But to us, they sound as /ɑ/, and hence the Romabama transcription is {au:}.


Contents of this page

Vocal vowels : a demonstration with "duck calls"

-- UKT 131002, 160110

Refer to: Source Filter Theory, General Phonetics, Louis Goldstein ( louisgol@usc.edu), Ling 580, Fall 2013. ,
http://sail.usc.edu/~lgoldste/General_Phonetics/Source_Filter/SFa.html 131002

As a child, living in the country side, far away from large cities, had brought me into contact with hunters from villages. I remember playing (blowing on), bird-whistles made of baked clay from the potteries of Twent. Living with Nature has its charms, which have now been denied to the city kids who have only imitations in form of computers and internet to play with.

 To hear what the duck whistle sound is like, click <)).

My father, U Tun Pe, at that time was fond of sports hunting. He went into the forests of Di-saing {di-hsen} at the mouth of Toe River {to:mric} to hunt moderately large game animals. The tropical rain forest was dense, and was the habitat of leopards, but not tigers. The streams were the home of crocodiles. Snakes? There were plenty. They did not bother us - show them the proper respect. And like all creatures including the humans, they didn't want to be bothered. They warned you when you were encroaching on their territory. They are more humane than the human-terrorist!

My father was then the Public Health Inspector of both Kungyangon North and South townships - probably the largest in the Hanthawaddy district. Public-health-wise, the village headmen had to report to him. He spent almost half of every month touring the villages by country boat and bullock cart. On day-trips, I, a child under 6, used to accompany him.

My father owned a double-barrel gun, licensed by the Deputy Commission ICS U Kyaw Khaing himself who was my father's classmate at Insein Govt. High School. The British-Burma administrators at that time, just at the end of Saya San rebellion, were very strict in issuing gun-licenses, but U Kyaw Khaing had allowed his friend the highest number of cartridges that he could use each month.

My father on his hunting trips, had to employ the local professional hunters who were mostly Buddhist Karens. Through them I came to know people who could make animal calls just with their bare hands.

The most prominent example of such a person in history was Nga Zin, the sharp-shooting hunter of Pagan period, who by making such a sweet bird call that the rebellious Raman fleeing down the Irrawaddy river, opened his cabin-window on the raft. While Raman was looking for the bird, the hunter shot him in the eye (most likely with a cross-bow), and killed him on the spot. That was the end of the Mon rebellion in which King Sawlu (king from 1078 to 1084), the son of King Anawrahta, was executed by Raman. Raman was the son of the wet-nurse of Sawlu, the breast-feeding mate, and play-mate of King Sawlu.

AH<)) EE<)) EH<))  OH<)) OO<))
AH approx. {a}, EE approx. {i}, EH approx. {}, OH approx. {au}, OO approx. {u} .

The above 5 sounds are from http://sail.usc.edu/~lgoldste/General_Phonetics/Source_Filter/SFa.html 131002
Each picture shows the shape of your vocal tract when you say a different vowel. We've reproduced the plastic models next to the diagram for your convenience. Note that while the plastic models are straight, the vocal tract is bent almost 90 degrees in the middle.

The length of a vowel is measured qualitatively by the measure of the speaker's eye-blink (blk) or mata. A Skt-Dev short vowel is 1 blk long, and a long vowel is 2 blk. The corresponding vowels in Bur-Myan are the three pitch-registers: creak 1 blk, modal 2 blk, and emphatic 2 blk with emphasis. Romabama has to compromise the two as shown on the right. To integrate Mon-Myan, Romabama has to introduce a short-creak 1/2 blk: {a:.}. However, in Bur-Myan this sound is represented by {aa.}. Note the three-dots {:.} which has been borrowed from Tamil, ஃ visarga.

Eng-Lat is missing in one front vowel and two back vowels, which makes inter-transcription between Burmese and English very difficult. Romabama attempts to overcome such problems by making what engineers call a "happy medium" which nobody likes but which has to be accepted for utility sake!


In North America - Canada and the U.S. - duck hunting as a sport was quite popular when I first came to study at the Institute of Paper Chemistry. Many of my classmates studying Paper making - a forest-product industry - were avid duck shooters. Duck calls or whistles made of wood, and now plastic, are handy tools in duck hunting and I became familiar with them. Curiously, I had the experience of firing a fire-arm only once -- at a clay-pigeon. I made a direct hit and my score was 100 percent. When offered to do a second time, I refused. That might have brought my score to 50% !

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Abugida-Akshara system of writing

-- UKT 130828, 131119, 140327, 160110

Writing or editing a dictionary on Indic & Myanmar languages is a mess until one keep in mind that the mediums of writing. English uses Alphabet-Letter system, whereas Indic & Myanmar languages use Abugida-Akshara system. The target languages which we have in mind are primarily Sanskrit (Skt-Dev), Pali (Pal-Myan) and Burmese (Bur-Myan). Other akshara languages such as Mon-Myan and Bangla-Bengali (Ban-Ben) will be included later.

The two writing systems, the Abugida-Akshara and the Alphabet-Letter, are entirely different. In all akshara systems, you must differentiate between the speech or the acoustics of the language, and the script or the glyphs the marks you make on palm leaves or paper. To make a durable presentation, the marks are made on stone (inscriptions), or durable metals such as gold and silver. The marks are made by writing with a stylus or a pen. The marks are made more visible by rubbing in lamp-black into the scratches, or when a pen is used regular ink is employed.

Writing on palm leaves with a stylus is still practiced in Myanmarpr by astronomers-astrologers for each person giving the exact time of date, day and time of birth based on the Myanmar luni-solar calendar. Since, the date depends on a particular luni-solar calendar, which has seen changes during the long history of the country, the positions of the planets, and the asterisms are calculated and recorded. Do not forget that the Western calendar has been changed within our living memory, and changes to the dates of birth of historical persons, and historical events have to be specified in BC or AD. Similarly, the time-keeping devises have been changed and so when recording the "hour, minute, and second" of birth, the time-keeping system must be specified. The Western historians are only now beginning to realize the utility of such a system for keeping track of historical events which could be checked by modern day astronomy.

The basic unit of an Alphabet is a Letter which is mute, but the basic unit of an Abugida is an Akshara whether in speech or script is a syllable. And so the word {d~da}, loosely translated as 'Grammar', gives us the system of speech-sounds which has been extended to script.

The primary speech sounds we will concentrate on in an Abugida-Akshara system are the vowels {a.ra.} and the consonants {by:}.

vowel: {a.ra.} - MLC MED2006-490 ;
  सर sara 'short vowel', स्वर svara 'vowel' - SpkSkt

consonant: {by:} - MLC MED2006-317
  व्यञ्जन vyajana 'consonant' - SpkSkt

Vowels are of two kinds: the free vowel, and the bound vowel (bounded in a consonant when it is known  as the inherent vowel). For comparing different languages of BEPS, we will concentrate on the short vowel 1 blk of cardinal vowels of the Daniel Jones.

Free vowels
front vowel
s: /a/ {a.} अ a:  / i / {i.} इ i
back vowels: /u/ {u.} उ u; /ɑ/ {au:} ओ o

Bound vowels in {ka.} क ka [shown as vowel-signs or diacritics]
front vowels: {ka.} क ka ; {ki.} कि ki
back vowels: {ku.} कु ku ; {kau:} को ko

The Abugida-Akshara writing system is described under the rubric Abugida. The term Abugida is a relatively new word introduced by Peter T. Daniels only in 1990.

Even now, Akshara system of writing is not well understood thanks to sources like Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abugida 130828 which does not mention the term "syllable" - the basic unit of the system.

I came across the different systems of writing in the website Ancient Scripts a long time ago. http://www.ancientscripts.com/  130828. Unfortunately, the format has been changed from the much simpler format which to me was more informative than the present one.

Though the basic unit of the Abugida-Akshara system is the syllable, there are difference in writing them. An importance difference between Skt-Dev and Bur-Myan vowels are in split-vowels. Skt-Dev has no split-vowels. An Indic script that has split-vowels is Bangla-Bengali:

English speakers might be surprised to know that Eng-Lat also has split-vowels in the so-called Magic-E, in which the coda-consonant is placed between the basic vowel and the ending-E, changing the pronunciation, e.g.

<kit> --> <kite>

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UKT notes


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End of TIL file