In Sanskrit every letter is pronounced; there are no silent letters. Every letter has only one sound, except for the letter v (see below).
Length of Vowels
Vowels are either short or long. Short vowels are a, i, u, and ṛ. Long vowels are ā, ī, ū, e, and o. A long vowel is held for twice as long as a short one.
The English equivalents are approximations.
||as in but or cup
||as in father or calm
||as in sit or pick
||as in seat or clean
||as in put or pull
||as in pool or mood
||as in save or wait
||as in coat or cone
||is a vowel pronounced with the tip of the tongue bent slightly back toward the roof of the mouth, while making a sound between the ur in curd and the ri in cricket.
The next two vowels are diphthongs, combinations of sounds that are composed of two distinct vowels pronounced in rapid succession. Each diphthong, represented by two letters in transliteration, is written as a single letter in the Sanskrit alphabet and has the same length as a long vowel.
||as in pie or sky
||as in town or cow
||as in such, never as in cave or celery
||as in seek or sight
||as in shine or shower
||is pronounced like ś, except that the tip of the tongue is bent slightly back toward the roof of the mouth, as in assure.
|t, d, n
||are pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the top teeth.
|ṭ, ḍ, ṇ
||are pronounced with the tip of the tongue bent slightly back to touch the roof of the mouth.
||as in pin or uphold, never as in photo or phase
||as in top or hothouse, never as in think or there
||denotes not the consonant m, but simply a nasalization of the preceding vowel, as in the three nasal sounds in the French phrase un grand pont.
||as in ink, ingot, or sing
||as in bench or enjoy
||as gny, and represents a single letter in the Sanskrit alphabet
||is a rolled r, as in Spanish para.
||is a soft v when following a vowel or beginning a word; when following a consonant (as in tvam), it is like a w but with minimal rounding of the lips.
||at the end of a phrase, indicates that the previous vowel is echoed; for example, śāntiḥ is pronounced śāntihi.
When consonants are followed by h, as in bh, ph, dh, gh, or ch, the consonant is aspirated, as in abhor, uphold, adhere, doghouse, or woodchuck.
A consonant written twice, such as dd or tt, is pronounced as a single sound and is held twice as long as a single consonant.
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