Pronunciation of Sanskrit words

Vowels in Sanskrit are pronounced almost as in Italian. The sound of the short ‘a’ is like the u in but, the long ā is like the ‘a’ in far and held twice as long as the short a, and e is like the ‘a’ in evade. Long ‘ī’ is like the ‘i’ in pique. The vowel ‘ṛ’ is pronounced like the ‘re’ in the English word fibre. The ‘c’ is pronounced as in the English word chair, and the aspirated consonants (ch, jh, dh, etc.) are pronounced as in staunch-heart, hedge-hog, red-hot, etc. The two spirants ‘ś’ and ‘ṣ’ are pronounced like the English ‘sh’; ‘s’ is pronounced as in sun. Thus Kṛṣṇa is pronounced KRISHNA, Caitanya is pronounced CHAITANYA, etc.

Pronunciation of Tamil words


EnglishTamiḻ/As sound of
aஅ/“a” in ‘alloy’, ‘adieu’ {short ‘a’};as in “butter’,‘utter’.
 āஆ/”a” in “arm’, ‘art’, ‘bark’ {long a}
 Iஇ/“i” in ‘rip’, ‘pick’ {short i}
 īஈ/“i” in ‘skiing’, “e” in ‘peep’, ‘eat’ {long i}
 uஉ/“u” in ‘push’, ‘pull’ {short u}
 ūஊ/”o” in “boot’, ‘proof’, as “u” in ‘true’, “rude’ {long u}
 eஎ/“e” in ‘economics’, ‘end’, ‘came’, ‘take’.
 ēஏ/“ae” in ‘aeroplane’ or “ay” in ‘pray’.
 aiஐ/”ai” in ‘aisle’, ‘ice’, ‘idea’.
 oஒ/”o” in ‘go’, ‘low’. {short o}
 ōஓ/“o” in ‘Over’, ‘Omen’ {long o}
 auஔ/”ow” in ‘cow’
 agஃ/”ach” in ‘stomach’. When used before a letter say “pa”—pronounced as ‘fa’


 k, gக்/“k” in “back”, “pack”; “g” in ‘gum’
 ṅங்/“ing” in ‘wing’, ‘tring’; “ng”in ‘Kangaroo’
 c,jச்/“ch” in ‘chin’, ‘approach’; “j” in ‘justice’
 ñஞ்/“inj” in ‘brinjal; ‘jñāna’
 ṭ, ḍட்/”it” in ‘it’, ‘beť, ‘tub’; “d” in ‘dust’
 ṇண்/as ‘n’ in ‘Under’, ‘Wander’
 t, dத்/“th” in ‘bath’, ‘thick’, author; “dh” in ‘dharma’
 nந்/“n” in ‘month’, ‘enthusiasm’; “n” in ‘nut’
 p, bப்/“p” in ‘tip’, ‘cup’, ‘pun’; “b” in ‘bus’
 mம்/“m” in ‘slam’, ‘mom’, ‘must’
 yய்/’y’in ‘boy’, ‘young’
 rர்/“r” in ‘river’ {light r}, ‘run’
 lல்/“l” in “travel’. {light l}, ‘luck’
 vவ்/“v” in ‘van’, ‘vacate’
 ḻழ்/as the outdated ‘zh’
 ḷள்/“l” in “plum’. Tip of tongue to touch roof of mouth
 ṛற்/Hard “r” as in ‘mirror’, ‘error’, ‘crush’
 ṉன்/“in” in ‘pin’ {light n}; ‘tenant’

Letters from other languages

 jஜ்/“j” in ‘taj’ and ‘ge’ in ‘bridge’
Śrīஸ்ரீ/shri in ‘shriek’
 śஷ்/sh in ‘shark’
 sஸ்/s in ‘bus’, ‘safari’
 haஹ/’h’ in ‘hut’, ‘hum’
 kshaக்ஷ/’ksh’ in ‘bookshop’, ‘workshop’.

Compound Letters

Vowels combine with the sounds of consonants to make compound alphabets, some of which have multiple pronunciations:.

 ṉaன/ ‘na’ in ‘tenant’
 pa, baப/ ‘pa’ in pun, ‘ba’ in ‘bus’

Frequently Occurring Consonant Clusters

 ṅga ங்க/’nga’ in ‘Ganga’
 ñjaஞ்ச/’nja’ in ‘tinge’ ‘Ninja’
 ṉḍṛaன்ற/‘ndra’, in the name ‘tundra’
 mbaம்ப/ ‘mbo’ in the word ‘symbol’
 ṇḍaண்ட/ ‘nde’ in the name ‘thunder’
 ndhaத்த/ ‘ndha’ in ‘panther’
 ṭṛṛaற்ற/ ‘tra’ in ‘etcetra’