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Its aim is the teaching of the correct pronunciation of the Vedic hymns and mantras. The oldest phonetic textbooks are the Pratishakyas (prātiśākhya, a vrddhi abstract from Sanskrit prati-śākhā), describing pronunciation, intonation of Sanskrit, as well as the Sanskrit rules of sandhi (word combination), specific to individual schools or Shakhas of the Vedas.
The Pratishakhyas, which evolved from the more ancient Vedic Texts padapathas (padapāṭha) between c. 3100-800 BCE, deal with the manner in which the Vedas are to be enunciated. There are separate Pratishakhyas for each Veda. They are a complement to the books called Shiksha written by various authorities.
Five Pratishakhyas are preserved:
The Shiksha Texts and the Pratishakhyas led to a great clarity in understanding the surface structure of language. For clarity of pronunciation, they propose breaking up the large Vedic compounds into stems, prefixes, and suffixes. Certain styles of recitation (pāṭha) such as the jaṭāpāṭha involved switching syllables, repeating the last word of a line at the beginning of the next, and other permutations. In the process, a considerable amount of morphology is discussed, particularly regarding the combination of sequential sounds, which leads to the modalities of sandhi. An even more important discovery recorded in the Pratishakhya texts, particularly the Samaveda Pratishakhya, which is claimed to be the earliest), is an organization of the stop consonant sounds into a 5x5 varga or square:
in which difference between sounds is preserved whether you recite it horizontally or vertically. This was extended and completed with fricatives and sibilants, semi-vowels, and vowels, and was eventually codified into the Brahmi alphabet, which is one of the most systematic sound to writing mapping. A scholar has commented: Mendelejev's Periodic system of elements, the varga system was the result of centuries of analysis. In the course of that development, the basic concepts of phonology were discovered and defined.
In addition, several Shiksha texts exist, most of them in metrical verse form but a few in sutra form. Some of these surviving texts are: English translation of Paniniya Siksa.pdf
Although many of these Shiksha texts an attached to specific Vedic schools, others are late texts.
Traditionally syllables (not letters) in Sanskrit are called "Akshara", meaning "imperishable (entity)", as it were "atoms" of speech. These aksharas are basically classified mainly into two types,
Svara akṣaras are also known as prāṇa akṣara i.e. they are main sounds in speech, without which speech is not possible. Pāṇini referred to svara by ac pratyahāra. After him, they are referred as ac Akṣara.
Vyañjana means embellishment, i.e., consonants are treated as embellishment for the vowels to make a language sonorant. They are also known as Prāni akshara i.e., they are like a body in which life (svara) will be present. Pāṇini referred to vyañjana by Hal Pratyahāra. After him, they are referred as Hal akshara.
Again vyañjana akṣaras are divided into three types,
Sparśa akṣaras include syllables from Ka to Ma they are 25 in number. Antastha akṣaras include syllables ya, ra, la and va. Ūshman akṣaras include śa, sha, sa and ha.
Each vowel can be classified into three types based on the time of pronunciation (morae). The unit of time is mātra (approx. 0.4 second). They are,
Each vowel can be pronounced in three ways according to timespan of articulation. ×
Each vowel can be classified into two types based on the manner of pronunciation. They are
Each vowel can be pronounced in three ways according to the accent of pronunciation.
According to Indian linguistic tradition, articulation is analysed by different parameters and features.
Generally, in articulatory phonetics, the place of articulation (also point of articulation) of a consonant is the point of contact, where an obstruction occurs in the vocal tract between an active (moving) articulator (typically some part of the tongue) and a passive (stationary) articulator (typically some part of the roof of the mouth).
According to Indian linguistic tradition, the places of articulation (passive) are classified as five. They are:-
Apart from that, other places are combinations of the above five places. They are:-
The places of articulation (active) are classified as three, they are
Effort of articulation (Uccāraṇa Prayatna) is of two types for consonants,
Articulation of consonants will be a logical combination of components in the two prayatnas. The below table gives a view upon articulation of consonants.
|Sparśa, Śvāsa, Alpaprāna||ka||ca||ṭa||ta||—||pa|
|Sparśam, Śvāsa, Mahāprāna||kha||cha||ṭha||tha||—||pha|
|Sparśa, Nāda, Alpaprāna||ga||ja||ḍa||da||—||ba|
|Sparśa, Nāda, Mahāprāna||gha||jha||ḍha||dha||—||bha|
|Sparśa, Nāda, Alpaprāna,
Anunāsika, Drava, Avyāhata
|Antastha, Nāda, Alpaprāṇa,
|Ūṣman, Śvāsa, Mahāprāṇa, Avyāhata||Visarga||śa||ṣa||sa||—||—|
|Ūshman, Nāda, Mahāprāna, Avyāhata||ha||—||—||—||—||—|
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