Update: 2019-06-25 07:09 PM -0400


Practical Sanskrit Dictionary for Buddhists and Hindus


A Practical Sanskrikt Dictionary, by A. A. Macdonell, 1893,
http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/scans/MDScan/index.php?sfx=jpg; 1929.
- Nataraj ed., 1st in 2006, 2012.
- https://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/macdonell/ 190516
The Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, BHS, vol.2, by F. Edgerton, pp. 627.
- FEdgerton-BHSD<> / Bkp<> (link chk 180627)
The Student's Pali English dictionary , by U Pe Maung Tin, 1920.
- (ref: UPMT-PEDxxx).  Downloaded copies in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries:
- UPMT-PaliDict1920<> / bkp<> (link chk 190113)
  Pali-Myanmar Dictionary (in Pal-Myan), by U Hoke Sein,
- (ref: UHS-PMD). The dictionary in printed form is in TIL Research Library.
Latin-English Vocabulary II, by Hans H rberg, 1998
- HHOrberg-LinguaLatina<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190624)

Edited by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), Daw Khin Wutyi, Daw Thuzar Myint, Daw Zinthiri Han and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL  Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR 
 - http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com 

MC-indx.htm | Top

Contents of this page

UKT 181023: Nasals come close to vowels, and a study of nasals is a study of a subset of  vowels.

Vowels - the backbone of a language : acoustic phonetics
    Vowels < a > < > and < ə > : < >
    Back vowel /ɔ/
    My substitute for machine analysis
Vocal vowels : a demonstration with "duck calls"
Vowel sounds : vocal folds cords
    Voiceless nasals
    Codas or syllable-endings / Onsets or syllable-beginnings
Abugida-Akshara system of writing : different from Alphabet-Letter system
    Nuclear vowel vs. Inherent vowel [to be written]

Contents of this page

Vowels - the backbone of a language :
with reference to Sanskrit {n-SkRRi.ta.} language

-- UKT 130828, ..., 150814, 161029, 180624, 190121

I realized long ago that the main difficulty in inter-transcription between Burmese (Bur-Myan) and English (Eng-Lat), is the problem of vowels. Vowels are the backbone of a language. Bur-Myan is non-rhotic, whereas British English is somewhat rhotic, but the American English is more rhotic. Then I ran into the highly rhotic vowel pair, {iRRi.} ऋ ṛ and {iRRi} ॠ ṝ. The members of this pair are differentiated by the length of time to utter them: "short" = 1 eye-blink, and "long" = 2 blnk.

In the above transcription of the word "Sanskrit", you'll notice a curious basic consonant, {Ska.} ष्क ska. This, and others of its kind {Sta.}, {Spa.}, {Sna.}, {Sma.}, ... , are unknown in Bur-Myan, but present in Eng-Lat. I've to postulate them into BEPS, for the more urgent need of transcripting English into Burmese. I've defined them as "Lisping consonants".

In Skt-Dev, we meet more rhotic sounds than what we are used to Pal-Myan. In fact Pal-Myan does not have the highly rhotic vowel ऋ {iRRi.}, but has to make-do with less rhotic representation of the Ra'ric {ra.ric} sounds.

To the Westerners, differentiation into short- and long-vowels is NOT important, whereas in the Indic languages and Bur-Myan, they are of prime importance. Based on this idea of vowel duration, measured in time-duration you take to blink your eye, we can find which vowels can form {a.wuN} 'similar pairs' or beautifully matched pairs, and, which when paired form {a.a.wuN} 'dissimilar' or ill-matched pairs. The idea of pairing is the same as in modern idea of contrastive vowels and can be explained by Daniel Jones' two-dimensional vowel quadrilateral. With the inclusion of Skt-Dev, I had to explain the highly rhotic vowel ऋ {iRRi.} (and its sign ृ {RRi.}) by addition of lateral-rhotic dimension.

Below, I have given how the standard IPA vowel quadrilateral aka trapezium is presented, and how I have first compared the Romabama vowels to IPA based on the presentation on DJPD16-xx. I have inserted Bur-Myan vowels in approximate positions. I have also shown the tongue positions and lip shapes, and have shown how IPA symbols are related to Burmese, Mon, and Sanskrit - languages covered by BEPS.


Inclusion of Skt-Dev, necessitates a three-dimensional representation to include very rhotic (common), and lateral (not so common) Skt-Dev vowels.

Realizing that it is the vowels, more so than consonants, that are responsible as to how we speak and hear, I have included Chinese from an entirely different linguistic group. See:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_vowel_diagram 180624

I have also included vowels from southern California English for comparison. See:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_English 180624

For the front vowels, /a/, /ɛ/, /e/, /i/, Bur-Myan has four, {a}, {:}, {}, {i}. English has only three: <a>, <e>, <i>. Instead of having two mid-vowels, it has only one, <e>. However, we should note that pronunciation-wise, there are not many English words with vowel-sound /a/, instead we find many with //. Note a & e must be written as a ligature , not separately.




Contents of this page

Vowels < a > < > and < ə > : < >

The three vowels <a>, <> and <ə> form a sort of a group. The vowel <a> is considered "long", and <> "short". Whereas the mid-central vowel <ə> is any-body's guess. For Bamah <a> (front vowel), English uses <ɔ> (back vowel).

Do not think that the positions taken up by the vowels, say "short /i/" represented by /ɪ/ would be same at least between dialects of American English. You will notice that in the Californian dialect, /ɪ/ is lower than /e/. Call in another language, say Chinese, and, you are in a complete mess! It is the reason why I have to confine myself to languages of BEPS. I have to go into Mon-Myan, because both Bamah (Burmese) and Mon use the same basic script. Though the two languages belong to different language groups, Bur-Myan to Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman) and Mon-Myan to Aus-Asi (Austro-Asiatic) group related to Dravidian languages, and mutually non-understandable in speech, Burmese and Mon can still be related through Pal-Myan meanings.

The only firm conclusion I can arrive so far is that vowels of all languages lie within the vowel quadrilateral, and that "long" vowels are further away from the center than the "short" vowels. The questions of closeness & openness, and front-ness & back-ness is a matter of differing opinions and nothing else. Graphical representation of vowels in writing (scripts) is just a guide to listening (sounds), and your judgement is a good as that of an authority. The only way to learn a language is to listen how various "native" speakers speak.

| With the above background, when I came across Georgian, I am simply flabbergasted!

Georgian Alphabetic-letter 'Tan' U10D7 თ /t/,
  - cf. Myan Akshara-consonant  {ta.} /ta./

Georgian Alphabetic-letter 'In' U10D8 ი  /i/,
  cf. Myan Akshara-vow {i.} /i/; vow-sign {i.}-sign changing to Georgian-vowel :

Georgian Alphabetic-letter 'An' U10D0 ა /a/~/ɑ/
  cf. Myan Akshara-vowel {a.} & {au:}

You must not forget that my training is Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. I am not a linguist, nor a phonetician and I must leave it to my betters to solve the linguistic problems. I am presenting only what I have found. With my background as a Skeptical Chemist, with Robert Boyle as my model, my analysis must be very stringent.

Now, here's something that would have pleased my analytic-minded scientists of the 19th-20th centuries: How hollow plastic models of the human vocal track turn the squawk of a duck call into vowel sounds.

UKT 181022: By "duck" and "duck hunting" is meant the flying water-fowl. See:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfowl_hunting 181022

From: http://www.exploratorium.edu/exhibits/vocal_vowels/vocal_vowels.html 150817
"Here is the sound source. It's really a re-packaged duck call! Notice the reed above the curved wooden surface. Air blows past the reed (from right to left) causing it to vibrate and produce a buzzing sound".
Let's listen to how ducks "speak" duck-call-mp3<)) (link chk 190421)
and you can laugh your heads off. laugh-mp3<)) (link chk 190421)

I don't aim for unifying speeches. Speeches are under the Curse of the Babel.

I just aim for unifying the scripts through Romabama  {ro:ma. ba.ma}. My aim is the aim of the Buddhist-linguist Shin Kic'si,  {shin kic~s} praised by the Gautama Buddha. I'm following in his foot-steps as King Asoka must have done, about 250 years after the Buddha.

Contents of this page

The vowel /ɔ/ - the back-vowel :
exemplified by English <now> and <how> without "glide"

To get a full understanding of the back vowel /ɔ/, known as "open-o", I need to study Mon-Myan.

Both Mon speech and Burmese speech uses the same basic Myanmar script, similar to French and English speeches using the basic Latin script. Myanmar script is unique in being the only language based on circularly rounded circles, except perhaps Georgian script : თ [Georgian Consonant Letter Tan] & ი [Georgian Vowel Letter In].

Mon-Myan and Bur-Myan are completely different languages. They even belong to different language groups. Mon belongs to Austro-Asiatic language group and Burmese to Tibeto-Burman group.

Listen to how Mon-Myan speakers sing their vowels (link chk 190421):
- row#1vow<))
- row#2vow<))

Yet, because speakers of both languages are by Theravada religion, they think the same way. They eat the same diet, and treat their women-folk the same with with what might amount to reverence. They place their mothers in place of honour, and treat their wives almost the same as themselves. To them the land they live on is their Mother-land. In a way both are maternalistic societies -- a trait which they probably acquired from the Pyus who had worshipped the Mother Goddess - the Devi.

UKT 180624: The Mother-goddess Devi to us is very different from the one degraded to the status of the servile wife of the Shaivite omnipotent Siva.

How the vowel-sounds are produced by a living human being could not be observed directly until recently, because they are produced in the voice-box deep down the throat.

I came to know about it only after I have studied the Principles of Phonetics and Phonology -- still an ongoing topic for me. See my presentation,
Human voice, Phonetics and Phonology - HV-indx.htm (link chk 190121)
Unfortunately I have not looked into my presentation for a long time and it is now full of errors. In the presentation you will come across
How sound is produced and heard [former hv6.htm] - snd-hear.htm (link chk 190121)
I am giving a section from it below:

As the inset figure illustrates, the vibrations of the vocal folds are the source of speech. The buzzing produced these vibrations is passed through the vocal tract, which serves as a resonant filter, damping certain frequencies and intensifying others. The result is the characteristic sound we identify as speech.

To hear what the buzzing of the vocal folds sounds are like before it enters the vocal tract, click (link chk 190421)
excitation  Krauss-excit<))
To hear the filtering action of the vocal tract, click
vocal tract filter Krauss-filter<))
To hear the resultant speech, click
speech Krauss-speech<))

UKT131002, 160109: The above sound clips were in .AIF format. They have
been changed into .MP3 format by Daw Khin Wutyi on 160109

To be more effective in teaching, how the teacher articulated the sounds should also be seen. In an article by Ruth Campbell, The processing of audio-visual speech , Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2008) 363, 10011010, download 160110, and stored in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries
 - RCampbell-AudioVisual<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190421)
Ruth Campbell states in 6. Complementarity and Redundancy in the Speech Stream:

"To summarize, audio-visual processing is more effective than auditory processing of natural speech for two reasons. First, some segmental contrasts can be seen clearly, thus aiding speech comprehension, especially where those segments are acoustically confusable. Second, many features of an utterance can be perceived by both ear and eye: the audible and the visible patterns are highly correlated, reflecting the underlying dynamics of speech production. ..."

UKT 190421: After associating with teachers all my life, I notice that the most effective teachers are those who speak slowly, letting the student see the movements of his lips. Of course, hand-motions, and motions of the whole face of the teacher should be seen. I enjoy being in a small class of 10 to 20. What I've failed to note is the McGurk effect .
See, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGurk_effect 190421
"The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound. [1] The visual information a person gets from seeing a person speak changes the way they hear the sound. [2] [3] ... "
If you're at the TIL research station you can watch the McGurk effect, by BBC
- McGurk-effect-audiovisual<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190421)
UKT 190421: The McGurk-effect acts differently on speakers of different languages. Wikipedia article of 190421 states: "People of all languages rely to some extent on visual information in speech perception, but the intensity of the McGurk effect can change between languages. Dutch, [36] English, Spanish, German, Italian and Turkish [37] language listeners experience a robust McGurk effect, while it is weaker for Japanese and Chinese listeners. [38]

We should realized that it is not only the articulations of speech sounds (carried by sound-waves) by the speaker, and the full hearing by the hearer that are important, but also the visual cues seen (carried by light-waves) produced by the speaker, and seen by the hearer, to get at the correct meaning of message. Augmented with the body-language, conveying ideas by speaking-hearing, and seeing the facial-movements are very important in teaching. Teaching via machines are less effective than by a live teacher in small classes.

Contents of this page

Formants - vowel analysis by machines

- UKT 180728 :

I've been on the subject of Formant /fɔːm(ə)nt/  {fo-mn.} for quite sometime, and I need to update my knowledge from time to time. The following is from: http://person2.sol.lu.se/SidneyWood/praate/whatform.html 180728

A formant is a concentration of acoustic energy around a particular frequency in the speech wave. There are several formants, each at a different frequency, roughly one in each 1000Hz band. Or, to put it differently, formants occur at roughly 1000Hz intervals. Each formant corresponds to a resonance in the vocal tract.

Formants can be seen very clearly in a wideband spectrogram, where they are displayed as dark bands. The darker a formant is reproduced in the spectrogram, the stronger it is (the more energy there is there, or the more audible it is):

From Hyperphysics: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Music/vowel.html 181022
Five illustrations should be reproduced:
1. Forming the vowel sounds
2. Formation of vowel sounds
3. Vocal formants
4. Vowel formants
5. Representative vowel formant frequencies

Now that we have seen an example of continuous speech, we have to know how acoustic phoneticians are studying the individual vowels produce by various human subjects -- of different age groups, of different sexes, and of different linguistic groups. Take note that the same vowel can sound differently in time-duration, pitch, and emphasis by the same person even during a short speech. The same vowel as uttered by the same person as individual vowel, in continuous speech and in singing. The hearer depending on his L1 heard the same vowel differently. Relying on a group of trained phoneticians to judge the vowels is helpful only in a cursory study of a language. And you should remember that representing vowels in a diagram such as the quadrilateral of Daniel-Jones is an approximation at best.

The present-day study of vowels depends on the instrumental measurement of sound waves. We need to pin down the vowels for designing computer sounds and for invention of artificial speech to teach a new computer and humanoid robots. A human subject is asked to "sing" a vowel and his voice-sound is recorded. From the analysis, quantities known as Formants are derived. The quantities that are measured are F1, F2, and F3.

Below is a comparison of vowels in F1 and F2. Again an excerpt from:
How sound is produced and heard
[former hv6.htm]  - snd-hear.htm (link chk 190121.

Formants can be used to differentiate the vowels such as  {o} and  {au:}. These two vowels are of interest to my friend from MLC, U Tun Tint and me, because MLC transcribes the Bur-Myan {au:} /[o]/ and {o} as /[ou]/.

When I told my friend U (Dr.) Tun Tint of MLC that in Romabama, the transliteration for  is {o}, he said "that's how a man on the street   {lm:pau-ka. lu} would do it." And he is right! It is usual for male Burmese friends of the same age to address each other using the prefix {ko} (such as how I address him --  {ko htwan: tn.}). If I were to write to him in English, I would address him as Ko Tun Tint.

The explanation for how this confusion had come about is on the way the English vowels /o/ and /ɑ/ are generally pronounced. The first three formants for /o/ and /ɑ/ are quite similar, and when we pronounce  {au:} or {AU:}, foreigners might heard it as /o/. But to us, they sound as /ɑ/, and hence the Romabama transcription is {au:}.


Contents of this page

My substitute for machine analysis

- UKT 181022, 190121

Ancient phoneticians of the East, mostly dedicated individuals devoted to acquiring a knowledge such as speech sounds had to rely on close observation of how speech is produced. They are known as Rishis or {I.i.} (following the northern-India usage) or  {ra..} (following the southern-India usage).

Remember, northern-India (principally Magadha), and northern-Myanmarpr (principally Taguang and Old Pagan) had extensive foot-links across the mountains since prehistoric times.

It is my conjecture that the ancient phoneticians probably had humans trained to be "computers" from childhood to assist them in their research since the days of Indus-Sarasvati civilization - an ancient civilization that had no formal writing system. I base my conjecture on:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_computer 180625
"The term "computer", in use from the early 17th century (the first known written reference dates from 1613), [1] meant "one who computes": a person performing mathematical calculations, before electronic computers became commercially available. ... The approach was taken for astronomical and other complex calculations. Perhaps the first example of organized human computing was by the Frenchman Alexis Claude Clairaut (17131765), when he divided the computation to determine the time of the return of Halley's Comet with two colleagues, Joseph Lalande and Nicole-Reine Lepaute. [3]"

I further conjecture that the ancients finally devised a system of one-to-one mapping of speech to sound and produced the Akshara-system (Abugida-Akshara). The mapping must not be changed - ever lasting not changing as Atta the Creator-god itself. The present-day Bur-Myan, though an Abugida-Akshara system still had the aim of a one-to-one mapping, but is imperfect.

However, there had been short-cuts as in the Alphabetic (Alphabet-Letter) system of Eng-Lat, and French-Lat. Because the one-to-one mapping is not present, the present-day Western phoneticians have to develop the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) which is after all is an Abugida-Akshara system. Sad to say IPA is not ASCII, and I have develop my Romabama which is ASCII compatible suitable for email and the Internet.

I rely on the dictionaries of vocabularies developed by the ancients to comparison of speeches of various peoples, and arrive at the Basic vowels of BEPS for comparing Bamah, English, Pali and Sanskrit speeches.

Here you must note that I do not place much value on the Christian missionaries out to translate the English bible for the natives and their modern disciples. Their main goal is to convert the natives to Christianity - not to study the language.

Contents of this page

Vocal vowels : a demonstration with "duck calls"

-- UKT 131002, 160110, 180624, 190121

Refer to: Source Filter Theory, General Phonetics, Louis Goldstein ( louisgol@usc.edu), Ling 580, Fall 2013. ,
http://sail.usc.edu/~lgoldste/General_Phonetics/Source_Filter/SFa.html 131002
See also
- LGoldsteinCAFowler-ArticulatPhonologPublic<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190121)
"The goals of the theoretical work that we describe here are twofold. We intend first to develop a realistic understanding of language forms as language users know them, produce them and perceive them. Second we aim to understand how the forms might have emerged in the evolutionary history of humans and how they arise developmentally, as a child interacts with speakers in the environment."

As a child, living in the country side, far away from large cities, had brought me into contact with hunters from the villages. I remember playing (blowing on), bird-whistles made of baked clay from the potteries of Twent town near Yangon city. Living with Nature has its charms, which have now been denied to the city kids who have only imitations in form of computers and internet to play with.

Let's listen to how ducks "speak" duck-call-mp3<)) (link chk 190121)

My father, U Tun Pe, at that time was fond of sports hunting. He went into the forests of Di-saing {di-hsen} at the mouth of Toe River {to:mric} to hunt moderately large game animals. The tropical rain forest was dense, and was the habitat of leopards, but not tigers. The streams were the home of crocodiles. Snakes? There were plenty. They did not bother us - show them the proper respect. And like all creatures including the humans, they didn't want to be bothered. They warned you when you were encroaching on their territory. They are more humane than the human-terrorist!

My father was then the Public Health Inspector of both Kungyangon North and South townships - probably the largest in the Hanthawaddy district. Public-health-wise, the village headmen had to report to him. He spent almost half of every month touring the villages by country boat and bullock cart. On day-trips, I, a child under 6, used to accompany him.

My father owned a double-barrel gun, licensed by the Deputy Commission ICS U Kyaw Khaing himself who was my father's classmate at Insein Govt. High School. The British-Burma administrators at that time, just at the end of Saya San rebellion, were very strict in issuing gun-licenses, but U Kyaw Khaing had allowed his friend the highest number of cartridges that he could use each month.

My father on his hunting trips, had to employ the local professional hunters who were mostly Buddhist Karens. Through them I came to know people who could make animal calls just with their bare hands.

The most prominent example of such a person in history was Nga Zin, the sharp-shooting hunter of Pagan period, who by making such a sweet bird call that the rebellious Raman fleeing down the Irrawaddy river, opened his cabin-window on the raft. While Raman was looking for the bird, the hunter shot him in the eye (most likely with a cross-bow), and killed him on the spot. That was the end of the Mon rebellion in which King Sawlu (king from 1078 to 1084), the son of King Anawrahta, was executed by Raman. Raman was the son of the wet-nurse of Sawlu, the breast-feeding mate, and play-mate of King Sawlu.

There is a question nagging me after I started learning Mon-Myan the spoken language which is mutually not understandable to Bur-Myan speakers. Was King Anawrahta's household completely bilingual in Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan? Why did King Anawrahta had a Mon wet-nurse instead of a Burman for his infant son Prince Sawlu? Was Anawrahta himself, a half-Mon half-Burman? What was the ethnicity of Anawrahta's father King Kunzaw  {kwum:hsau} 'a tax-collector'? - a Mon in the employ of King Taungthugyi  {taung-u-kri:}. Why did both Kunzaw and his mother became ma'nes {nt} - protector spirits - after their deaths. It is inconceivable that they died in sorrow - a condition of mental state at the time of death. They must have died with extreme love and attachment - another mental state - to their immediate family. Kunzaw became the Lord with the White Umbrella  {hti:hpru-hsaung: nt} (#09/37*), and his mother the  {hti:hpru-hsaung: m-tau} (#10/37*) during the reign of their progeny King Anawrahta {a.nau-ra.hta mn:} .

* List number of {nt} in Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism, by Maung (Dr.) Htin Aung
(all following links chk 190121)
-- flk-ele-indx.htm
and proceed to Ch.07. Thirty-seven Lords: list  - ch07-nat-list.htm
and proceed to ch07-0922.htm

Now, you will have to forgive me for running away with my imaginations! I must get back to my ducks and duck-whistles.

AH<))  EE<))  EH<))   OH<)) OO<))
AH approx. {a}, EE approx.  {i}, EH approx.  {}, OH approx.  {au}, OO approx.  {u} .

The above 5 sounds are from http://sail.usc.edu/~lgoldste/General_Phonetics/Source_Filter/SFa.html 131002
Each picture shows the shape of your vocal tract when you say a different vowel. We've reproduced the plastic models next to the diagram for your convenience. Note that while the plastic models are straight, the vocal tract is bent almost 90 degrees in the middle.

In North America, Canada and the U.S., duck hunting as a sport was quite popular when I first came to study at the Institute of Paper Chemistry. Paper making is a forest-product industry, and many of my class mates were avid duck shooters. They  showed me how they hunted ducks, and one of them had asked me to shoot just once - not at a flying duck, but at a clay-pigeon. I made a direct hit and my score was 100 percent. When offered to do a second time, I refused. That might have brought my score to 50% ! That was the one and only time in my life, that I have ever fired a gun. North American old timers can make duck-whistles from wood. And now the duck whistles are made of plastic.

The length of a vowel is measured qualitatively by the measure of the speaker's eye-blink (blk) or mata. A Skt-Dev short vowel is 1 blk long, and a long vowel is 2 blk. The corresponding vowels in Bur-Myan are the three pitch-registers: creak 1 blk, modal 2 blk, and emphatic 2 blk with emphasis. Romabama has to compromise the two as shown on the right. To integrate Mon-Myan, Romabama has to introduce a short-creak 1/2 blk: {a:.}. However, in Bur-Myan this sound is represented by  {aa.}. Note the three-dots {:.} which has been borrowed from Tamil, ஃ visarga.

Eng-Lat is missing in one front vowel and two back vowels, and also three nasals which makes inter-transcription between Burmese and English very difficult. Romabama attempts to overcome such problems by making what engineers call a "happy medium" which nobody likes but which has to be accepted for utility sake!


Contents of this page

Vowel sounds : vocal folds cords

- UKT 150819, 180625, 181022

Refer to: Human voice, Phonetics and Phonology  - HV-indx.htm (link chk 190121)
and proceed to: Alpha and Beta [former hv2.htm] - AlphabetLetter.htm (link chk 190121)

Where in the mouth the consonants are produced can be easily seen. These places are known as Points of Articulation (POA). The most easily recognizable part in an open mouth is the Uvula 'little grape' or   {lhya-hkn} (MLC MED2006-468). The moving part from which Uvula 'little grape' or {lhya-hkn} is hanging is known as the velum.

UKT 181022: Lack of dental fricatives in Bur-Myan has lead to innovations for {lhya-hkn}. What we need is IPA /ʃ/, which is present in Skt-Dev as श . Note: since IPA and IAST transcriptions are not suitable I've to avoid them whenever the need arises, and that is why they are not given here. I've to improvise for BEPS {sha-hkn}.

Bur-Myan {lhya-hkn} improvised to BEPS-Myan   {sha-hkn}.

But the vowels are produced deeper in the throat in the larynx. How the vowels are produced by a living human being could not be observed directly until recently, because they are produced in the voice-box deep down the throat.

The organ that is responsible for vowel-sound production in the larynx are the vocal-folds in the sound-box. They the source of human-speech. They have been termed vocal-cords, and people have misunderstood them to be like cords or strings of a guitar. A guitar-string vibrates and produces a sound - a mechanical sound, but a human vocal-folds vibrate and produce human speech.

Animations downloaded from: 
- http://www.ims.uni-stuttgart.de/phonetik/EGG/page5a.htm recent 150820
Right: quiet breathing Left: speaking
During normal breathing the glottal area is more open (about 1 sq-cm) while during phonation the area is much reduced (0.05 to 0.1 sq-cm.). During speaking (phonation), the movements are more complex. The terms used are: 

abduct v. tr. 2. Physiology To draw away from the midline of the body
or from an adjacent part or limb.
adduct v. tr. Physiology 1. To draw inward toward the median axis of the body
or toward an adjacent part or limb.

Until the invention of the Video Laryngoscope, there was no way to see where the vowels were produced in a living person. I came to know about it only after I have studied the Principles of Phonetics and Phonology -- still an ongoing topic for me. See my presentation, HUMAN VOICE
- HV-indx.htm  (link chk 190121),
and proceed to How sound is produced and heard [former hv6.htm]
- human-snd.htm (link chk 190121).

UKT 181023: See downloaded paper on Glottography, by P. Mitra, 2004 in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries:
- PMitra-Glottography<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190121)
"Speech is produced by the acoustic excitation of the vocal tract by an air stream derived from the lungs and pulsed at a rate that is determined by the vibration of the speaker's vocal folds. The frequency of vocal fold vibration determines the pitch of the voice, which is directly correlated to intonation [1]. The manner in which the vocal folds vibrate contributes to the sound quality produced by the speaker."

Yet it is possible that the ancient Eastern phoneticians, like Panini {pa-Ni.ni. hsa.ra}, might have studied the vowels in speech by placing their sensitive fingers around the throat to feel the vibrations while their human subject - most probably the investigator himself - had been speaking.

UKT 181023: Ancients phoneticians or grammarians, like Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} (fl.  4th century BCE or "6th to 5th century BCE") were in all probability Rishis {ra..} bent on pursuing one quest, such as the study of human sound production - an almost impossible task. Such Rishis are still found in modern Myanmarpr, just like the one " perfecting the abilities of the human body" gazing into the mid-day sun, who could be seen on the platform of the Shwdagon Pagoda. For these pursuit one needs a "concentrated mind" and the "ability to control his bodily functions such as breathing, ability to stand a long duration without nutriments. I have been one of those and could stand long hours of fasting for as much as 150 hours taking only water. My experience was, at the end of 140 hours, my intestines and large bowel started bleeding passing on black tarry stools. I carried on for 10 more hours to fulfill my "vow", and came out of the session feeding the body with small sips of water containing palm sugar. My personal physician had thought I would surely die, but I knew I would survive. During such session, one has to use the Yogic practice of breath control. During that time, the mind becomes very sharp and I could record my thoughts clearly. Siddhartha Gaudama (who became the Buddha) went into such sessions nearly killing himself. Because of his acute mind he discovered the Four Noble Truths, and Anatta Principle. I presume Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} was such a person. May be he could "see" the workings of his glottis, and those of his assistants by placing his fingers on the throat - just like the laryngograph .

It is said that the "vowel sound is a free-flowing sound" which can be either laminar flow (voiceless or vl.), or turbulent (voiced or vd.) within one "puff" of air coming out of the glottis.

Bur-Myan and most of the languages have only voiced basic vowels, but there are some languages which have voiceless vowels (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel 071230).

Contents of this page

Voiceless nasals

What has been touted as voiceless Bur-Myan vowels in
http://www.phonetics.ucla.edu/vowels/chapter12/burmese.html 150819, 181023 
are not basic vowels, but vowels of monosyllabic medials, which are present in Bur-Myan.

Skt-Dev does not have these sounds. Since the Western phoneticians had started their study of the sound systems of India and Burma - Burma at that time-period in history was considered by the Westerners to be just a province of India - they must have had come to wrong perceptions.

UKT 150923: It is interesting to note that when the British-India participated in the Olympic Games at one time, there was a weight-lifter from Burma, U Zaw Waik by name.

He hailed from Natsingoan  {nt sn koan: rwa} village in North Kungyangon township. U Zaw Waik was in the team. It was said that he had to parade at the opening ceremony wearing an Indian turban ! What an insult to the proud Burmese of my father's generation. I am sorry I can no longer check the facts I was told.

Leaving aside the Indian turban, see the following:
https://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/we/u-zaw-weik-1.html 180625

"U Zaw Weik competed for India* in weightlifting at the 1936 Olympics, but he was a native of Burma, now called Myanmar. He began lifting weights for training in 1929 and quickly became the top lifter in that nation, breaking British Empire records in 1933 through 1935, when he won the All-India Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Contest in Kolkata. After the 1936 Olympics Weik and his mentor, U Shein, visited England and London's Hyde Park inspired them, seeing the freedom of speech enjoyed by the British people. They realized that colonial rule deprived the Burmese of their fundamental rights and they returned to Burma with a nationalistic goal. Weik worked alongside the leaders of the independence movement to resist British Imperialism. Weik also established the Burma Olympic Association in 1946, and served as their director after Burmese independence was achieved in 1948. Prime Minister of Burma, U Nu, awarded him an Honorary Bachelor of Arts degree and the title of Wunna Kyaw Htin."
* UKT 180626: the facts given above are misleading. #1. U Zaw Weik never competed for India: India as well as Burma were part of British-India. The flag shown is simply wrong.

A CIVIL SERVANT IN BURMA , by Sir Herbert Thirkell White, K.C.I.E., 1913, in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries
- HTWhite-CivilServ<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190121)
states, in Chapter 1: Introductory, on p1: "Burma is a Province of the Indian Empire. It is not, as some suppose, a Crown Colony administered directly under the Colonial Office. Nor is it, as others do vainly talk, a foreign State where Britain is represented by Consuls. It is the largest, yet the least populous, of Indian Provinces, more extensive even than undivided Bengal."

Sir Herbert continues, in Chapter 1: Introductory, on p8: "I found Burma a bright and pleasant land, green and forest-clad, with a climate healthier on the whole than the average climate of Indian plains ; its people singularly human, cheerful, and sympathetic ; its officers of all ranks companionable and friendly. My own considered opinion is that, in many respects, Burma was one of the best provinces for a public servant."

The examples of Bur-Myan - not Pal-Myan - cited are the {ha.hto:}-sounds, and true basic vowels. Transliterated into Bur-Myan:

{ma.}, {na.}, --- {a:}, {gna.}  - basic akshara
 (r5c5)  (r4c5) ------ (r2c5)   (r1c5)
   true-nasals -------- semi-nasals

{mha.},  {nha}, {ha:}, {gnha.} - conjuncts: break up under Virama

The examples given for r2c5 is not exactly correct because of the long-lost akshara Nya-major {a.}/ {} which is not found in any language that I've come across. What is present is Pal-Myan is palatal affricate {a.}/ {}. This has led me to the discovery that Nya-major {a.}/ {} is a palatal approximant by the side of velar approximant {ya.}/ {}. See my modified table of Consonants given below.

UKT 181024: The first two  {mha.} and {nha} are formed from two well known nasals: well known in English and in Hindi. They do not give us any trouble.

However, in the Bur-Myan and Pal-Myan akshara tables there are two contenders for r2c5, Nya-major {a.} and Nya-minor {a.}. We are simply told that whenever Nya-major {a.} appears in Pali, it must be considered to be a horizontal-conjunct  which breaks up under virama.

Pal-Myan {a.} + viram --> {} + {a.} or {~a.}
which leads us to curious way in which words like Pyin'nya 'education' {p~a} is pronounced

Burmese taken together with Pali has many such arbitrary rules, and we are required to use mnemonics such arbitrary rules. For BEPS-Myanmar and Romabama, I've no option but to improvise as in the case of the modified consonantal table given above.

Since r1c5 & r2c5 have properties different from r4c5 & r5c5, I've to come up with new terms "semi-nasals" for the first pair, and "true-nasals" for the second. The first semi-nasal is so different from the rest that it is {gna.} (a non-nasal) and {ng} (a nasal). Notice the change of position between g and n - a hypothesis after a study of Mon-Myan Peguan dialect which is more akin to Bur-Myan that Martaban dialect. See the observations of British scholars such as Haswell and Temple:
  # Grammatical notes and Vocabulary of the Peguan Language, by J.M. Haswell, Rangoon, American Mission Press, 1874
- MV1874-indx (link chk 190121)
- in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries
- JMHaswell-PeguanGrammVocab<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190121)
  # Notes on the transliteration of Burmese alphabet into Roman characters, and vocal and consonantal sounds of the Peguan or Talaing language, by R.C. Temple, Rangoon 1876, in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries
- RCTemple-Translit-Bur<> 1876 / Bkp<> (link chk 190121) 

After leaving the glottis, the signal carrying air puff has to travel upwards along the pharynx which opens into the mouth (oral) cavity and slightly further up into the nose (nasal) cavity. The flow can be modified by placing restrictions to the path, as in the flow of water in a concertina-like plastic-piping system. The restrictions can be "valves" and/or "weirs". The modification is also brought about by changes in the "shape" and/or "length" of the pipe. Never compare the vocal system to a system of rigid metal pipes with trap-door-like valves.

See Mechanical model of speech production
- http://www.haskins.yale.edu/featured/heads/simulacra/riesz.html 150819
UKT 150819: Though a wrong model because of the rigid structure, it could still reproduce "human like" sound with a good operator. The functions of parts are explained in the article.

The air from the lungs passes through the glottis where the vocal folds (not like strings: the term "vocal cords" is wrong) are. They are situated just below where the tract of pharynx splits into the trachea and the esophagus. Air coming past the vocal folds are in little puffs.

It should be noted that as with all valves used in fluid flow, the soft palate can be completely open or tightly shut, or somewhere in between. We should always remember that there is a pronunciation difference between rapid speech (used by common people) as opposed to careful speech (as used by lawyers, politicians and public speakers).  The nasal/oral opposition concerns not only the consonants but vowels as well.

John Laver (1980, p.70) writes:
"The physiology of the velopharyngeal system has been the subject of research by many workers, though largely from other disciplines than general phonetics. The facts about the action of the groups of muscles that serve to open and close the velum are reasonably well established. ... We are thus obliged to accept that different speakers may achieve auditorily (and perhaps articulatorily) similar results by physiologically different means. This is very likely to be true not only of the velopharyngeal mechanism, but of the entire speech apparatus. ... It is to be stressed that the velum does not move like a hinged trap door -- as is so often claimed in various books. In reality, the palate represents the anterior portion of the complex velopharyngeal valve, which functions mainly as a circular sphincter. " -- The Phonetic Description of Voice Quality by John Laver, Univ. of Edinburgh, Cambridge Univ. Press. 1980, p70-75, part of the book available in http://www.ling.mq.edu.au/ling/units/sph302/papers/laver_1980_nasal.pdf 071029

As the inset figure illustrates, the opening & closing of the vocal folds produces vibrations. These vibrations give rise to patterns of compression and rarefaction of the air around in the form of a longitudinal wave.

This is what we called a sound wave. And thus the vocal folds are the source of speech.

The vibrations can be represented in the form a waveform with in two dimensions of time (vertical) and intensity (horizontal). As the puff of air passes through the vocal tract which acts as a resonant filter, certain frequencies are damped and others intensified, the waveform is changed. The inset figure is the waveform of a continuous speech with many syllables.

To hear what the buzzing of the vocal folds in continuous speech sounds like before it enters the vocal tract, click (all following links chk 190421)
excitation - Krauss-exit-mp3<))
To hear the filtering action of the vocal tract, click
vocal tract filter - Krauss-filter-mp3<))
To hear the resultant speech, click
speech - Krauss-speech-mp3<))

A syllable has its own wave form, e.g. a syllable with /iː/ (long - 2 blk). You can see how an Australian English speaker would pronounce a word h_d with the /iː/ nuclear vowel. The onset  consonant h is quite different from the coda d . The nuclear vowel i is the most prominent. - from: -http://clas.mq.edu.au/speech/acoustics/waveforms/speech_waveforms.html 150819

In the production of human speech-sounds, there are two ways in which air can flow, depending on the position of the soft palate (velum). The soft palate acts like a valve which can completely shut off or open the nasal resonators, or stay in half way positions. However, because of the involvement of more than one pair of muscles in lowering and raising the velum, the action is far more complex than opening or closing a mechanical valve.

Contents of this page

Codas or syllable-endings

Onset {gna.}, {a.}, {Na.}, {na.}, {ma.}
Coda  {ng},--- {},--- {N},-- {n},-- {m}
Solely because I couldn't find a suitable Letter to stand for / , I've to include the nuclear-vowel of the syllable to differentiate the nasal endings for Bur-Myan. However, my definitions are for Bur-Myan only. They are generally unsuitable for Mon-Myan. In the table given the simplest "dummy nasal" can be //, //, /ai/, /an/, etc.

In producing the nasal-codas, (with killed-nasal consonants /ŋ, ɲ, ɳ, n, m/ or {ng}, {}*, {N}, {n}, {m}, the soft-palate is lowered opening the nasal resonator. Remember, nasal-codas are mute. They become syllables only when preceded by a vowel such as {a.}. The air then flows through both the nasal channels (nose: there are two) and the oral channel (mouth).

* UKT 180626: I have now determined that Bur-Myan Nya-major {a.}/ {} is not a nasal, but an approximant with no nasal sound similar to {ya.}/ {}. The cell r2c5 is now occupied by Nya-minor {a.}/ {} solely.

In producing onset sounds, there can only be two nasals: {na.} and {ma.}.

Contents of this page

Onsets or syllable-beginnings

In the production of oral sounds (with both oral consonants and nasal consonants such as:

 column#1: {ka.} /k/,-- {ta.} /t/,-- {pa.} /p/ 
 column#2: {hka.} /kʰ/, {hta.} /tʰ/, {hpa.} /pʰ/
 column#3: {ga.} /g/,--- {da.} /d/,- {ba.} /b/
 column#4: {Ga.},------ {Da.},--- {Ba.} - no IPA equivalents

the soft-palate is raised shutting off the nasal resonator, and air flows only through the mouth. However, in the case of nasals, the soft-palate is open, and air flows through the nose and mouth.

column#5: {gna.}* {na.} {ma.}
*UKT 180627: Though {gna.} is present in English spelling, because the speakers could not pronounce it properly, they defined the g preceding n as silent, e.g. <gnome> which they pronounce as /nəʊm/ US /noʊm/.

UKT 180627: In addition to ŋ (velar), ɲ (palatal), ɳ (retroflex), Bur-Myan has {n} /n/ - a nasal without a definite POA, because of which I specify the shortage as 3+1.
  English-speakers cannot pronounce the velar ŋ properly, and what they could not do, they simply silence it, and pronounce <gnome> as /nəʊm/ US /noʊm/ and <gnat> /nt/.
  They now have silent-letters, such as <knee> /niː/ and <knight> /naɪt/. See: a compilation by Julie Peters in HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries
- JPeters-SilentLetters<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190121)


Contents of this page

Abugida-Akshara system of writing

-- UKT 130828, 131119, 140327, 160110, 180624

Writing or editing a dictionary on Indic & Myanmar languages is a mess until one keep in mind that the mediums of writing. English uses Alphabet-Letter system, whereas Indic & Myanmar languages use Abugida-Akshara system. The target languages which we have in mind are primarily Sanskrit (Skt-Dev), Pali (Pal-Myan) and Burmese (Bur-Myan). Other akshara languages such as Mon-Myan and Bangla-Bengali (Ban-Ben) may be included later.

The two writing systems, the Abugida-Akshara and the Alphabet-Letter, are entirely different. In all akshara systems, you must differentiate between the speech or the acoustics of the language, and the script or the glyphs the marks you make on palm leaves or paper. To make a durable presentation, the marks are made on stone (inscriptions), or durable metals such as gold and silver. The marks are made by writing with a stylus or a pen. The marks are made more visible by rubbing in lamp-black into the scratches, or when a pen is used regular ink is employed.

Writing on palm leaves with a stylus is still practiced in Myanmarpr by astronomers-astrologers for each person giving the exact time of date, day and time of birth based on the Myanmar luni-solar calendar. Since, the date depends on a particular luni-solar calendar, which has seen changes during the long history of the country, the positions of the planets, and the asterisms are calculated and recorded. Do not forget that the Western calendar has been changed within our living memory, and changes to the dates of birth of historical persons, and historical events have to be specified in BC or AD. Similarly, the time-keeping devises have been changed and so when recording the "hour, minute, and second" of birth, the time-keeping system must be specified. The Western historians are only now beginning to realize the utility of such a system for keeping track of historical events which could be checked by modern day astronomy.

Astrology or the art of prediction depends on observable cyclical repetitions of events. You can leave the magic associated with gods and goddesses aside as I usually do. The two cycles that I take note of are the 60-yr and 30-yr cycles and their multiples. See also: Technical analysis - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_analysis 180624
"A core principle of technical analysis is that a market's price reflects all relevant information impacting that market. A technical analyst therefore looks at the history of a security or commodity's trading pattern rather than external drivers such as economic, fundamental and news events. It is believed that price action tends to repeat itself due to the collective, patterned behavior of investors. Hence technical analysis focuses on identifiable price trends and conditions. [25] [26] "

UKT Personal note 180624: Migrating to Canada, after 33-34 yrs of serving our mother-land Myanmarpr, both my wife and I found ourselves unemployable. I studied the stock market trends and traded on stocks and options using my own research in technical analysis. Though not 100% predictable, my method worked. It eventually led to the founding of Tun Investment Limited (TIL) incorporated in the Province of Ontario. I finally had to stop trading because it became a burden to my aging heart.

The basic unit of an Alphabet is a Letter which is mute, but the basic unit of an Abugida is an Akshara whether in speech or script. Akshara is a syllable. And so the word {d~da}, loosely translated as 'Grammar', gives us the system of speech-sounds which has been extended to script.

The primary speech sounds we will concentrate on in an Abugida-Akshara system are the vowels {a.ra.} and the consonants {by:}.

vowel: {a.ra.} - MLC MED2006-490 ;
  सर sara 'short vowel', स्वर svara 'vowel' - SpkSkt

consonant: {by:} - MLC MED2006-317
  व्यञ्जन vyajana 'consonant' - SpkSkt

Vowels are of two kinds: the free vowel, and the bound vowel (bounded in a consonant when it is known  as the inherent vowel). For comparing different languages of BEPS, we will concentrate on the short vowel 1 blk of cardinal vowels of the Daniel Jones.

Free vowels
front vowel
s: /a/ {a.} अ a:  / i / {i.} इ i
back vowels: /u/ {u.} उ u; /ɑ/ {au:} ओ o

Bound vowels in {ka.} क ka [shown as vowel-signs or diacritics]
front vowels: {ka.} क ka ; {ki.} कि ki
back vowels: {ku.} कु ku ; {kau:} को ko

The Abugida-Akshara writing system is described under the rubric Abugida. The term Abugida is a relatively new introduced by Peter T. Daniels only in 1990.

Even now, Akshara system of writing is not well understood thanks to sources like Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abugida 130828 which does not mention the term "syllable" - the basic unit of the system.

I came across the different systems of writing in the website Ancient Scripts a long time ago. http://www.ancientscripts.com/  130828. Unfortunately, the format has been changed from the much simpler format which to me was more informative than the present one.

Though the basic unit of the Abugida-Akshara system is the syllable, there are difference in writing them. An importance difference between Skt-Dev and Bur-Myan vowels are in split-vowels. Skt-Dev has no split-vowels. An Indic script that has split-vowels is Bangla-Bengali:

English speakers might be surprised to know that Eng-Lat also has split-vowels in the so-called Magic-E, in which the coda-consonant is placed between the basic vowel and the ending-E, changing the pronunciation, e.g.

<kit> --> <kite>

Contents of this page

UKT notes


Contents of this page

End of TIL file