SANSKRIT 3

LEARNING THE INTERNATIONAL ALPHABET OF SANSKRIT TRANSLITERATION

  1. Introduction: Objective of the Page's author
  2. Guidelines
  3. Comparing vowels
  4. Comparing consonants: Part 1
  1. Comparing consonants: Part 2
  2. Comparing consonants: Part 3
  3. Concluding remarks
  4. Further Information
Since the site is being gradually moved from MEFI to IAST, read the document by keeping this in mind, please
More information

Introduction: Objective of the Page's author

You learnt in Sanskrit 1: Introduction and Sanskrit 2: How to write in Sanskrit many important things about Sanskrit. And now you will learn a little International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST). Though we use MEFI (a fantasy name for our transliteration system) here on this Site, we will have to utilize IAST on the outside. Therefore, I thought it was necessary to explain it to you in comparison with our MEFI.

We do not use IAST on Sanskrit & Sánscrito because the fonts generally does not contain certain such special characters as "a" with a hyphen on top of it, "n" with a dot below, "s" with a written accent above, etc. Even though there is a font which contains those characters, it is "another" font apart from Sanskrit 98 for you to download. By the way, you must have Sanskrit 98 font installed to view the Pages correctly. Click here. If you do not install it, you will not view any Sanskrit characters.

Besides, since even with Sanskrit 98 font some bugs have occured because of buggy browsers, compatibility problems, etc., I did not want to run the risk of facing more troubles coming from another installed font. That is why I have decided to invent MEFI, the simple Alphabet of Transliteration that we use here.

Throughout this Page we will analyze the two Alphabets in order that you may use either. Since IAST is utilized very often it is very important for you to learn how to read and write in that Alphabet.

Have at hand the Sanskrit Alphabet. Print it if you can.

Let us get down to work!

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Guidelines

In this simple table you will be able to understand how the two Alphabets are linked to one another: Of course, the IAST and MEFI characters are in uppercase and lowercase when necessary. The characters "h" and "m" are only in lowercase because they never stand at the beginning of a word.

INTERNATIONAL ALPHABET OF SANSKRIT TRANSLITERATION (IAST) OUR OWN ALPHABET OF SANSKRIT TRANSLITERATION (MEFI)
Vowels aa ii and uu 'a', 'i' and 'u' with a hyphen above are protracted doubly The vowel character is simply doubled
(Aa aa, Ii ii, Uu uu)
Vowel ri 'r' with a dot below (vowel) Ri ri (strong 'r'; note the use of bold letters so that it appears to be differentiated from
'ri' --'r' + 'i'--)
Vowel rii 'r' with a dot below and a hyphen above (vowel) Rii rii (the preceding vowel protracted doubly)
Vowel lri 'l' with a dot below (vowel) Lri lri (as ri vowel but with 'l' before)
Vowel lrii 'l' with a dot below and a hyphen above (vowel) --rarely used-- Lrii lrii (the preceding vowel protracted doubly)
Anusvaara and gutural n The dot above a letter indicates nasalization ('m' and 'n' with a dot above them) Nasalization is indicated by means of italic letters
(m and N n)
Visarg 'h' with a dot below indicates the vowel named Visargá h (bold and underlined)
Cerebral t, th, d, dh, n and s Consonants pronounced by slightly rolling the tongue back are written with a dot below them ('t', 'th', 'd', 'dh', 'n' and 's', all of them with a dot below) These very consonants are underlined
--no bold letters-- (T t, Th th, D d, Dh dh, N n, S s)
Consonant sh 's' with a written accent above is just like English 'sh' Sh sh

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Comparing vowels

After the Guidelines,we are going to study deeply the subject. You will be able to see the original characters in Devanaagarii, then in IAST and lastly in humble MEFI used in this Site. Some comments have also been inserted. Vowels come first (uppercase and lowercase when necessary):

Devanaagarii IAST MEFI COMMENTS
A a A a No changes
Aa aa Aa aa "a" written doubly in MEFI
# i I i No changes
$ ii Ii ii "i" written doubly in MEFI
% u U u No changes
^ uu Uu uu "u" written doubly in MEFI
\ ri Ri ri Remarkable changes in MEFI, e.g. bold letters so that you may recognize and differentiate it from "ri" (r + i)
§ rii Rii rii "ri" with its "i" written doubly in MEFI
¤ lri Lri lri Again, remarkable changes in MEFI e.g. bold letters
¥ lrii Lrii lrii "lri" with its "i" written doubly in MEFI. This letter does not appear in this Site's Sanskrit Alphabet because it is a theoretical letter rarely used
@ e E e No changes
@e ai Ai ai No changes
Aae o O o No changes
AaE au Au au No changes
 <
(Anusvaara)
Anusvaara m No dot on top of "m" and use of italic letters. In Sanskrit Alphabet it appears with a preceding "a" to be pronounced
>
(Visargá)
Visarg h Use of bold letters and "h" is underlined. In Sanskrit Alphabet it appears with a preceding "a" to be pronounced

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Comparing consonants: Part 1

And now, let us glance at the consonants. Let us start with the first 25 (Gutturals, Palatals, Cerebrals, Dentals and Labials):

Devanaagarii IAST MEFI COMMENTS
k ka Ka ka No changes
o kha Kha kha No changes
g ga Ga ga No changes
" gha Gha gha No changes
' Gutural na Na na No dots in MEFI and use of italic letters to indicate nasalization
c ca Ca ca No changes
D cha Cha cha No changes
j ja Ja ja No changes
H jha Jha jha No changes
| a Ña ña No changes
q Cerebral ta Ta ta No dots in MEFI and use of a underline
Q Cerebral tha Tha tha No dots in MEFI and use of a underline
f Cerebral da Da da No dots in MEFI and use of a underline
F Cerebral dha Dha dha No dots in MEFI and use of a underline
[ Cerebral na Na na No dots in MEFI and use of a underline
t ta Ta ta No changes
w tha Tha tha No changes
d da Da da No changes
x dha Dha dha No changes
n na Na na No changes
p pa Pa pa No changes
) pha Pha pha No changes
b ba Ba ba No changes
- bha Bha bha No changes
m ma Ma ma No changes

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Comparing consonants: Part 2

And the Semivowels undergo no changes. Look:

Devanaagarii IAST MEFI COMMENTS
y ya Ya ya No changes
r ra Ra No changes
l la La la No changes
v va Va va No changes

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Comparing consonants: Part 3

And two Sibilants undergo some change. Look:

Devanaagarii IAST MEFI COMMENTS
z sha Sha sha No written accent is used. "h" is inserted in between
; Cerebral sa Sa sa No dots and use of a underline
s sa Sa sa No changes
h ha Ha ha No changes

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Concluding remarks

It has been a great effort to publish this Page. So many *.jpg images. I hope my effort helps you to understand the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST). Besides, you have learnt how to use MEFI (a fantasy name for our transliteration system), the simple transliteration alphabet utilized on this site. Best wishes to you and keep studying Sanskrit. Next Page... "Sanskrit Numbers"! (Sanskrit 4).

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Further Information

This Page was conceived by Gabriel, one of the two founders of this site.

For further information about Sanskrit, YĆ³ga and Indian Philosophy; or if you simply want to comment, ask a question or correct a mistake, feel free to contact us: This is our e-mail address.

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