Marathi phonology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The phoneme inventory of the Marathi language is similar to that of many other Indo-Aryan languages. An IPA chart of all contrastive sounds in Marathi is provided below.

Vowels[edit]

Vowels in native words are:

Vowels
  Front Central Back
High i   u
Mid e ə o
Low   a  

There are no nasal vowels.

Like other alphasyllabaries, Devanagari writes out syllables by adding vowel diacritics to consonant bases. The table below includes all the vowel symbols used in Marathi, along with a transliteration of each sound into Latin script and IPA.

Devanagari अं अः
Transliterated a ā i ī u ū e ai o au aṃ aḥ
IPA /ə/ /a/ /i/ /u/ /ru/ /e/ /əi/ /o/ /əu/ /əm/ /əhə/
Pronunciation

Marathi furthermore contrasts /əi, əu/ with /ai, au/.

There are two more vowels in Marathi to denote the pronunciations of English words such as of /æ/ in act and /ɔ/ in all. These are written as 'अ‍ॅ' and 'ऑ'.

Marathi retains several features of Sanskrit that have been lost in north-Indian Sanskrit-based languages such as Hindi and Bengali, especially in terms of pronunciation of vowels and consonants. For instance, Marathi retains the original Sanskrit pronunciation of अं /əⁿ/, ऐ /əi/, and औ /əu/. However, as was done in Gujarati, Marathi speakers tend to pronounce ऋ somewhat similar to /ru/, unlike most other Indic languages which changed it to /ri/ (e.g. the original Sanskrit pronunciation of the language's name was saṃskṛtam, while in day-to-day Marathi and Gujarati it is saṃskrut. In other Indic languages it is closer to sanskrit). Spoken Marathi allows for conservative stress patterns in words like राम (rama) with an emphasis on the ending vowel sound, a feature that has been lost in Hindi.

Consonants[edit]

Consonants[1]
  Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex (Alveolo-)
palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal plain m ɳ
murmured n̪ʱ
Stop voiceless p ts ʈ k
aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ tʃʰ
voiced b dz ɖ ɡ
murmured d̪ʱ dzʱ ɖʱ dʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative s ʃ h
Approximant plain ʋ l ɭ j
murmured ʋʱ ()[2]
Flap plain ɾ [3]
murmured ɾʱ

The table below includes all the consonant bases onto which vowel diacritics are placed. The lack of a vowel diacritic can either indicate the lack of a vowel, or the existence of the default, or "inherent", vowel, which in the case of Marathi is the schwa.

Unlike most Indian languages, the Marathi language has multiple pronunciations for certain consonants (च, ज, झ and फ). This generally applies to pronunciations that were imported from Persian or English, but were tied to existing Devanagari alphabet. The letter 'ज' may be pronounced as '/dʒə/' (जग, jag meaning world), as well as '/dzə/' (जागा, zāgā meaning place). It is not possible to grasp which pronunciation is to be used when from the written word alone, unlike Hindi, where the letter ज़ was added to represent the '/zə/' sound. This pronunciation inconsistency is one of the most prominent difficulties for Marathi learners.

ka
/kə/
kha
/kʰə/
ga
/ɡə/
gha
/ɡʱə/
ṅa
(/ŋə/)
ca
/tʃə/ or /tsə/
cha
/tʃʰə/
ja
/dʒə/ or /dzə/
jha
/dʒʱə/ or /dzʱə/
ña
/jə̃/
ṭa
/ʈə/
ṭha
/ʈʰə/
ḍa
/ɖə/
ḍha
/ɖʱə/
ṇa
/ɳə/
ta
/t̪ə/
tha
/t̪ʰə/
da
/d̪ə/
dha
/d̪ʱə/
na
/n̪ə/
pa
/pə/
pha
/pʰə/ or /fə/
ba
/bə/
bha
/bʱə/
ma
/mə/
ya
/jə/
ra
/rə/
ṟa
/rə/
la
/lə/
va
/ʋə/
śa
/ʃə/
क्ष ज्ञ
ṣa
/ʃə/
sa
/sə/
ha
/hə/
ḷa
/ɭə/
kṣa
/kʃə/
jña
/ɡɲə/

A defining feature of the Marathi language is the frequent substitution of the consonant ल (la) in Sanskrit words with the retroflex lateral approximant ळ (ḷa). For instance, कुळ (kuḷa) for the Sanskrit कुलम् (kulam or clan) and कमळ (kamaḷ) for Sanskrit कमलम् (kamalam or lotus). ळ is possibly an import in Marathi from Dravidian languages.

Example of consonant-vowel combination[edit]

The combination of the vowels with the k-series

Script Pronunciation (IPA)
/kə/
का /ka/
कि /ki/
की
कु /ku/
कू
कृ /kru/
के /ke/
कै /kəi̯/
को /ko/
कौ /kəu̯/
कं /kəm/
कः /kəhə/

Consonant clusters[edit]

In Marathi, the consonants by default come with a schwa. Therefore, तयाचे will be 'təyāce', not 'tyāce'. To form 'tyāce', you will have to add त् + याचे, giving त्याचे.

Consonant clusters in speech[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Colin Masica, 1993, The Indo-Aryan Languages
  2. ^ In Kudali dialect
  3. ^ Masica (1991:97)

External links[edit]