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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - "th" in Pali

"th" in Pali

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"th" in Pali

Postby Justin » Tue May 26, 2009 7:42 pm

I have noticed that in Pali words containing the combination "th", the "h" is usually not pronounced -- as in Savatthi, Tathagata, et cetera.

However, in listening to mp3 recordings of various suttas, I have invariably heard the reader pronounce the name Anathapindika with the "h".

Does Anathapindika's name represent an exception to what I perceive as general rule, or is it being mispronounced? A small point, to be sure, but I am curious.

With metta,
Justin
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and a mind of boundless love.

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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby cooran » Tue May 26, 2009 8:41 pm

Hello Jason,

My understanding is that there are regional differences nowadays on how pali words are pronounced (in practice) ... a little like the various accents round the world of english-speakers ~ american, scottish, irish, australian, south african etc. Maybe Ajahn will correct me if this is wrong.

Alphabet and Pronunciation
Alphabet:
The Pāḷi alphabet consist of 41 letters: 8 vowels, the niggahīta (ṁ), and 32 consonants.

Vowels: a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, e, o
Niggahīta: ṁ
Consonants: k, kh, g, gh, ṅ, c, ch, j, jh, ñ, ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ, t, th, d, dh, n, p, ph, b, bh, m, y, r, l, ḷ, v, s, h
Pronunciation: (pronounced similar to the example)

a as in but, hut; a in banana
ā as in father, cart, heart
i as in bit, tip, it
ī as in machine, keen, clean
u as in put, foot, push
ū as in rude, boot, youth
e as in way, fade, cape (long always except before a double consonant in which it is short - as in bed, bet, head)
o as in home, bone, know (long always except before a double consonant in which it is short as in not, saw, all)

ṁ as ṅ or m - pure nasal without release through the mouth (It is most characteristically stated as a humming sound produced when the vocal cords are vibrating and the air is emitted through the nose only. There are two prominent pronunciations which depends on the community).

k as in skin, cook, candle
kh as in king, backhand
g as in girl, good, gift
gh as in log-head, big-house
ṅ as in sing, finger, ink
c as in choose, chin, discharge
ch as in ranch-house, ranch-hand
j as in jug, gem, judge
jh as in hedge-hog
ñ as Spanish señor
ṭ as t but with the tongue tip curled back just under the hard palate (retroflection)
ṭh as th but with the tongue tip curled back just under the hard palate (retroflection)
ḍ as d but with the tongue tip curled back just under the hard palate (retroflection)
ḍh as dh but with the tongue tip curled back just under the hard palate (retroflection)
ṇ as n but with the tongue tip curled back just under the hard palate (retroflection)
t as in stay, stand (but with the rip of the tongue at the back of the teeth)
th as in light-house, ant-hill (but with the rip of the tongue at the back of the teeth)

d as in dog, dirt, door (but with the rip of the tongue at the back of the teeth)
dh as in mad-house, red-house (but with the rip of the tongue at the back of the teeth)
n as in name, north, no (but with the rip of the tongue at the back of the teeth)
p as in space, spend
ph as in top-hat, upheavel, uphill
b as in bag, born, bed
bh as in lab-host, rub-hard
m as in him, mother, map
y as in yes, year, you
r as in ram, ring, roam (pronounced smoothy and similar to english r, retroflex prositioning)
l as in lamp, light
ḷ same as l but with the tongue tip curled back just under the hard palate (retroflection)
v a labiodental approximant, a sort of in-between the english v and w.
s as in sit, story, smoke
h as in inherent, voiced fricative
* the digraphs dh, etc., are to be taken as single sounds, the h representing aspiration - double consonants are pronounced seperately the first having no release): example - dd in mad dog, gg in big game, etc., or pronounced long: example - nn in unnecessary
http://mail.saigon.com/~anson/ebud/dict-ep/index.htm

metta
Chris
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby mikenz66 » Tue May 26, 2009 10:46 pm

Hi Justin,

I'm not clear what you mean by "pronounced" and "not pronounced". The "h" indicates an aspirated sound, as in Thai (not pronounce "thigh", but as "tie" with aspiration).

As Cooran says, there will be variations. There will also be errors...

The problem with many of these words is figuring out the syllables.
A-na-tha-pin-di-ka not A-nat-hap-in-di-ka ...

Metta
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby Justin » Wed May 27, 2009 12:19 am

Perhaps "pronounced" was the wrong term to use. I suppose I had English in mind, in that the "th" sound we have in words like "thimble" or "thin" is absent in how words like Tathagata are rendered..."tah-TAH-gah-tah" instead of "tah-THAA [as in "thimble"]-gah-tah". I was curious how this applied to Anathapindika, given how the pronunciations I've heard spoken aloud seem to conflict with the use of the aspirant "th".

In any case, the pronunciation guide was most helpful, and I shall practice my aspirants more dilligently! :D

With metta,
Justin :anjali:
Cultivate generosity, the life of peace,
and a mind of boundless love.

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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 27, 2009 12:25 am

I don't think "th" should ever be pronounced as in "thin". It is a "t" sound, as in "tin", but with aspriration.

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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby Dhammabodhi » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:39 pm

Hi Justin,

I'm a native hindi speaker, and I'd assume that the sounds/pronunciations are the same as Pali. The "th" sound in Pali has no equivalent in english, so its impossible to convey the correct pronunciation by writing. I'd suggest you look at the following video for Hindi alphabets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koEs1w2Sz0A

The second letter from the top is the sound you are looking for. And in "Ta-thaa-gata", the "thaa" is the sound of "th" with an additional "aa" in the end. I think whoever pronounces it differently is making a mistake(unless Pali has different pronunciations than hindi).

Given my assumptions,IMHO, the examples "light-house" and "ant-hill" are a bit misleading.
Metta,
Dhammabodhi
(this "dh" sound is also an aspirated sound, if you want I can send you the link for the right pronunciation)
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:01 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think "th" should ever be pronounced as in "thin". It is a "t" sound, as in "tin", but with aspriration.


Yet I still find myself incorrectly saying Theravada with the 'th' as in thin. :rolleye:

I know it is supposed to be 'Terravada' but old habits die hard. :toilet:

I think it has to do with incorrect spellings from the original translations from Asian languages to English; for example, Taoism should never have been spelled with a "T" and of course is pronounced "Daoism." Same thing with incorrect spellings with Peking, etc.
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:42 pm

th is pronounced as in hothouse, hot-house. tathāgata. TAT-hā-gata.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:56 pm

I think it has to do with incorrect spellings from the original translations from Asian languages to English;


Not at all with Sanskrit and Pali..
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:58 pm

TheDhamma wrote:I think it has to do with incorrect spellings from the original translations from Asian languages to English; for example, Taoism should never have been spelled with a "T" and of course is pronounced "Daoism." Same thing with incorrect spellings with Peking, etc.

Hmm, I would put it a little differently.

The problem for English speakers is that
1. We don't recognise the particular phonetic spelling system being used and assume English pronounciation.
2. We don't have the range of aspirated/unaspirated sounds that Asian languages have.

Using the convention that "d" or "t" are unaspriated, and "dh" and "th" are aspirated then "Tao" is a reasonable way to spell it. The problem is that in English "T" followed by "ao" (almost?) always comes out as aspirated.

On the other hand "d" in English (almost?) always comes out as unaspirated.

If one wants to pronounce "Tao" as intended one has to make a clipped "t" sound, which to an English speaker is hard to pick from an unaspriated "d".

On the other hand, an English speaker has trouble aspirating the "Dh" in "Dhamma".

"Peking/Beijing" is quite a different issue. The former is an Anglicization of the Cantonese pronunciation, whereas the latter is the Pinyin (the modern phonetic spelling) for standard Chinese ("Putongwhua" or "Mandarin"). In both cases the first consonant is unaspirated, so it is much more purcussive than how most English people would say it, which tends to come out (wrongly) like: "Bay - jing" or "Pee- king"...

I'm not so up with the technicalities in the Chinese dialects, but I do know that in Thai there are both (using the unaspirated/aspirated spelling convention) d , t, dh, th
It's not easy for an English speaker to distinguish d and t or dh and th.

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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:37 am

mikenz66 wrote:"Peking/Beijing" is quite a different issue. The former is an Anglicization of the Cantonese pronunciation, whereas the latter is the Pinyin (the modern phonetic spelling) for standard Chinese ("Putongwhua" or "Mandarin"). In both cases the first consonant is unaspirated, so it is much more purcussive than how most English people would say it, which tends to come out (wrongly) like: "Bay - jing" or "Pee- king"...


Thanks for the explanations, tilt and Mike. Pronunciations are not my forté. :toilet:

I should have said it is more to do with the anglicizations or to the mistakes in understanding the correct pronunciations, not the translations.
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby Individual » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:11 am

The above answers are very good.

The only thing I have to add: There is no "th" in Pali. It's pronounced PAH-LEE.
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:42 am

Dhammabodhi wrote:I'm a native hindi speaker, and I'd assume that the sounds/pronunciations are the same as Pali. The "th" sound in Pali has no equivalent in english, so its impossible to convey the correct pronunciation by writing.


A dental t does in fact occur in English, for example in the word 'eighth'. But it is the least common pronunciation of t. More usually the consonant will be realized as an alveolar obstruent, [tʰ] (as in 'tea'), or a post-alveolar one, [ṯ] (as in 'tree').

Given my assumptions,IMHO, the examples "light-house" and "ant-hill" are a bit misleading.


Indeed. Modern attempts to show the pronunciation of Indic aspirates by comparing them with English words (th = hothouse, ph = flophouse, bh = clubhouse, dh = madhouse etc.) are always misleading, for 'th' in Pali, Sanskrit etc. doesn't represents two distinct syllables as it does in these suggested English words.

For example, 'hothouse would be realized by most English speakers as ['hɒt-haʊs] or ['hɒt-tʰaʊs], with variants of this consisting only in modifications to the vowels (as in, say, Yorkshire or Mississippi) or the replacement of the obstruent with a glottal stop (as in Cockney). There is no variant afaik in which the 'th' is unsegmented. Not even in Southern Asian forms of English is 'hothouse' pronounced ['hɒt̪ʰ-ʔaʊs] or ['hɒ-t̪ʰaʊs].

The Pali aspirates may be phonetically represented as follows:

kh - [kʰ]
gh - [gʰ]

ch - [cʰ]
jh - [ɟʰ]

ṭh - [ʈʰ]
ḍh - [ɖʰ]

th - [t̪ʰ]
dh - [d̪ʰ]

ph - [pʰ]
bh - [bʰ]

ḷh - [ɭʰ]

The little subscript h, [ʰ], in each of these words indicates that the consonant is aspirated. In the case of 'th', aspiration means that when the tongue-tip leaves the teeth to release the sound [t̪] the vocal cords don't start to vibrate immediately. Instead, there is a short delay in which breath flows out of the mouth more or less unimpeded, thus giving us [t̪ʰ].

Best wishes,
'd̪ʰʌm-mʌː-'nʌn-d̪əʊ 'bʰik-kʰʊ
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:24 am

Modern attempts to show the pronunciation of Indic aspirates by comparing them with English words (th = hothouse, ph = flophouse, bh = clubhouse, dh = madhouse etc.) are always misleading, for 'th' in Pali, Sanskrit etc. doesn't represents two distinct syllables as it does in these suggested English words.


Sure, in that it is not two distinct syllables, but focusing on the t-h sound is workable, which is a lot more than one can say for the IPA, an exercise in the severely arcane.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:27 am

tiltbillings wrote:Sure, in that it is not two distinct syllables, but focusing on the t-h sound is workable, which is a lot more than one can say for the IPA, an exercise in the severely arcane.


I think there are plenty of other non-arcane methods that are better than 'hothouse', 'madhouse' etc. For example:

th: like 'tea' but with the tip of the tongue striking the back of the top teeth rather than the palate.

ch: like Bob Marley's pronunciation of the c in 'Caribbean' when he sings Buffalo Soldier.

jh: like Linton Kwesi Johnson's pronunciation of the g in 'gather' when he's reciting his poem Di Great Insohreckshan

bh: as the waiter in your local Indian restaurant pronounces the bh in bhindi masala.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:05 am

Dhammanando wrote:Best wishes,
'd̪ʰʌm-mʌː-'nʌn-d̪əʊ 'bʰik-kʰʊ


Oh crap. This is why Pali is so hard for me to learn. :rolleye:

:tongue:
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:21 am

Now you are just showing off.

I know hothouse is not the best, but it works

Dhammanando wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Sure, in that it is not two distinct syllables, but focusing on the t-h sound is workable, which is a lot more than one can say for the IPA, an exercise in the severely arcane.


I think there are plenty of other non-arcane methods that are better than 'hothouse', 'madhouse' etc. For example:

th: like 'tea' but with the tip of the tongue striking the back of the top teeth rather than the palate.

ch: like Bob Marley's pronunciation of the c in 'Caribbean' when he sings Buffalo Soldier.

jh: like Linton Kwesi Johnson's pronunciation of the g in 'gather' when he's reciting his poem Di Great Insohreckshan

bh: as the waiter in your local Indian restaurant pronounces the bh in bhindi masala.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:22 am

TheDhamma wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:Best wishes,
'd̪ʰʌm-mʌː-'nʌn-d̪əʊ 'bʰik-kʰʊ


Oh crap. This is why Pali is so hard for me to learn. :rolleye:

:tongue:


It is not that hard.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:29 am

Dhammanando wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I think there are plenty of other non-arcane methods that are better than 'hothouse', 'madhouse' etc. For example:
...
ch: like Bob Marley's pronunciation of the c in 'Caribbean' when he sings Buffalo Soldier.

Venerable, where do you find these gems?

Perhaps you can comment on Joe Strummer's pronunciation in "London Calling" ("London calling, yes I was there TOO, and you know what they said? Well some of it was TRUE!")

Metta
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Re: "th" in Pali

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:37 am

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Venerable, where do you find these gems?


Some of it's from past postings to a thread on Pali palatal consonants on another forum and some is what I learned when studying phonetics with Pétur Knútsson at the University of Iceland. A lot of the IPA transcribing tests Knútsson set us were based on pop songs and suchlike.

Perhaps you can comment on Joe Strummer's pronunciation in "London Calling" ("London calling, yes I was there TOO, and you know what they said? Well some of it was TRUE!")


I'm afraid I don't recall how his pronunciation went. :smile:

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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