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Lesson 9: Letters not from Sanskrit




After completing Lesson 8, whatever knowledge was needed to read Sanskrit was taught. Just by Lessons 1 to 8, one is able to read Sanskrit. However, Sanskrit is not the only script that uses Devanagari. Hindi, Marathi, Braja Bhasa, and other languages in North India use Devanagari script. In addition, to transliterate words borrowed from Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Greek origins, modification of pre-existing Devanagari letters is necessary to create more sounds using the script.



Please keep in mind, as these are not Sanskrit letters, there is no real system of transliterating them.

Figure 9.1


The letter “q” is a “ka” sound pronounced using the Adam’s apple.

The letter “.kh” that sounds like a Yiddish “h” or the “ch” in Loch Ness monster.

The letter “.g” is a sounds like a weak “g” and “gh.” Some people transliterate this as “gha

The letter “z” is pronounced the same way as it is said in English.

The letters “.ra and .rha” are like an attempt to say “ra” but sounds like “ḍa.” This letter is used frequently in Bengali and Hindi.

The letter “f” is pronounced the way as it is said in English.

The letter “.l” is a letter that was once used in ancient Vedic Sanskrit. It is not used in classical and contemporary Sanskrit. Currently, it is found in Gujarati and Marathi which almost sounding like a poorly articulated “ra.” It actually ends up sounding like a very weak “la.”

The letter “υ” is an English short “o” sound like the first “o” in “doctor.”

The letter “ē” is a long Sanskrit “e” sound found in Dravidian languages.

The letter “ζ” is a letter sounding like the English “a” used in the word “apple.”

The letter “ō” is a long Sanskrit “o” sound found in Dravidian languages.


As this is quite straightforward, making words will apply the same rules as previously mentioned. Since this chapter is mostly a supplemental one, no practice exercises will be given to this page.

UPDATED: June 16, 2009