Wednesday, 15 August 2012

How do you pronounce Jataka? An appeal for uniformity

When I see the word Jataka - I wonder how it is pronounced. For those of us who are familiar with it, there is no problem. But what if you hadn't met it before? It could be जतक, जातक, जताक, जातका, जाताका, जटाक, जाटक, जाटाका and some more! One way for us to avoid this confusion is to use devanagari but that may not always be possible. Incidentally devanagari itself is not देवनगरी as I once assumed, but देवनागरी! 

And honestly, how confidently can  you say that you will have encountered every Sanskrit word that you come across which is written in English? So I'd like to appeal to you - when we type in English, let us use a standard version of transliteration for our lessons,so that any new words used by any of us are accurately understood by all. This will become very important as we move onto the intermediate and advanced level. 

Of the forms of transliteration, the two most popular are Harvard-Kyoto and IAST (which stands for international alphabet of Sanskrit transliteration). For those who are interested, details can be found here However, since IAST uses a lot of diacritics, some of which don't appear on sites like Twitter, I suggest we follow the Harvard-Kyoto method, which is as follows:

a A i I u U R RR lR lRR e ai o au M H

k kh g gh G
c ch j jh J
T Th D Dh N
t th d dh n
p ph b bh m
y r l v z S s h

It will take a little bit of work getting used, to, but will make life a lot simpler and the lessons easier to understand.

As the title of this message suggests - this is a request, and you are not obliged to follow it. But I wish you would!
Watch this space for more content before Saturday's class...

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