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Hindi pronunciation tips - 3 (Nasal sounds)

In continuation of the series of posts on pronunciation of Hindi letters, this is the last post, clarifying the importance of, and differences between the nasal sounds in Hindi.

In the present series of posts, I am sharing helpful suggestions that will be of use to parents who want to understand some concepts of Hindi better for themselves before they help their child learn Hindi.

Rules of using anusvāra अं and nasal sounds with consonants

In words which are exactly used in their Sanskrit forms, when a nasal sound precedes a consonant y, the correct way to write it is as x + y, where x is the fifth nasal consonant of the set (varga) blended into y or as x +  ं + y so in Pankaj, a nasal sound comes before the ka sound. Pankaj = Pa + nasal sound + Ka + Ja

The nasal consonant at the end of the varga which has ka is ङ Ka varga : क    ख    ग    घ    ङ

So the correct way to write Pankaj is पङ्कज    (प + ङ् + क + ज) or पंकज   (प +  ं + ज)


Sanjay - सञ्जय is the same as संजय, (since ज belongs to this varga - च छ ज झ ञ )
Kantha - कण्ठ is the same as कंठ, (since ठ belongs to this varga - ट ठ ड ढ ण )
Anta ( or antha) - अन्त is the same as अंत, (since त belongs to this varga - त थ द ध न )


Chambal - चम्बल is the same as चंबल , (since ब belongs to this varga - प फ ब भ म )

So only in the त varga, न् is added if anusvāra is omitted - for other varga letters, adding न् instead of anusvara is wrong.

Like it is wrong to write सन्जय.
Correct is सञ्जय or संजय
कंठ ≠ कन्ठ,  कंठ = कण्ठ
चंबल ≠ चन्बल, चंबल = चम्बल

** Where the rule is not used

For some words derived from Sanskrit but differing from the original Sanskrit word, for words not of Sanskrit origin, for words of foreign origin and words where the sound is specifically a "na" sound and no just a nasalization, then न् or (ं ) may be used, and not the fifth nasal consonant of the same varga.

Like, वन्स अपॉन ए टाइम (once upon a time).

If someone's name is Manjeet, it will be written as

मंजीत or मन्जीत, not as मञ्जीत

since the intended sound is "n" and not a nasalization before "ja". (man + jeet = mind + conqueror = winner of the mind)

There are other rules where anusvara is not substituted by a half nasal consonant, which are outlined in the video below.

For nasal sounds (not just an "ang" or "am" sound, but a nasal pronunciation), in Hindi (not pure Sanskrit) words, chandrabindu चन्द्रबिन्दु (ँ) is used except where the matra or diacritic symbol would interfere with placing a (ँ) on the top like with marker of an ई or ए  or ऐ or  ओ  or औ.

So nasal sounds like चाँद, साँप, वहाँ, जहाँ, हाँ, etc. are written with (ँ)  while for मैं, कहीं, क्यों which are nasal non Sanskrit words, the (ँ) has been replaced by (ं ) due to the pre-existing matra on top which would make placing the (ँ) difficult.

Some good videos on the use of nasal sounds are given below. However, these are in Hindi, and if you want these explained in English, let me know.


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