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USAGE: Sri vs. Shri (was: Re: Using word generators (was Re: Semitic root word list?))

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <conlang@...>
Date:Thursday, January 11, 2007, 11:20
Eric Christopherson skrev:
 > On Jan 10, 2007, at 10:16 AM, David J. Peterson wrote:
 >> Jonathan wrote: << The first example to come to mind
 >> would be initial /sf/ in English (a cluster, not a
 >> phoneme, but the analogy holds), which is restricted
 >> AFAIK to a small group of low-frequency Greek loans.
 >> >>
 >> The thing I always found fascinating about /sf/ is that
 >> it was probably pretty alien to English when it was
 >> introduced, but it survived, whereas /sr/ certainly did
 >> not in things like Sri Lanka =/Sr/ and srong > saraong
 >> /s@r/. I know some people that pronounce Sri Lanka with
 >> an /sr/ sequence--I certainly try to--but on the whole,
 >> I'd say most shift it to to the allowable /Sr/. Could it
 >> be the presence of words like "svelte" that allowed this?
 > Out of curiosity, which pronunciation is etymologically
 > more accurate, /sri/ or /Sri/? If it's the same word as
 > the Indian title of respect, /Sri/ would be closer, since
 > the title is /Cri:/ in Sanskrit. (I know this has nothing
 > to do with how people actually pronounce it in English.
 > The AHD, for one, lists both, but /sri/ is listed first.
 > I've always said /sri/.)

You are absolutely right that this particular word is
/s\ri:/ in Sanskrit, but in the Prakrits (aka Middle Indo-
Aryan languages) the three Old I-A sibilants /s\ s` s/ fell
together into a single sibilant(*) which in some
languages/dialects was realized as [s\], but most often as
[s], and the modern I-A languages usually reflect this,
except for vocabulary items that were borrowed from
Sanskrit, or re-Sanskritified, in which most languages have
a distinction between /s/ and /S/ (< /s\/ and /s`/).(**) I
don't know to what extent Sinhalese speakers would regard
the [S] pronunciation erroneous in this word, but the
choosen spelling may have to do with the fact that for them
it may be Pali rather than Sanskrit which is the prestige
language, and Pali was/is a Middle IA language with a single
sibilant, which is always notated as /s/.

(* Except that the single sibilant of late OIA/early MIA
had an [h] allophone when it occurred in consonant
clusters, and this
[h] merged with the /h\/ phoneme, or fused with neighboring
sounds to form aspirated or breathed consonants, so that
e.g. Skt. /kr=s`n`@/ > Pkt. /k@n`h\@/, Skt. /l@ks`@/ >
Pkt. /l@kk_h@/, and the two Buddha names _Krakutsundara_
and _Krakucchandra_ which probably are two re-
Sanskritizations of a single Prakrit form! -- /sp st sk/
also became /(p)p_h (t)t_h (k)k_h/. This is the main
reason for most instances of voiceless aspirates and
breathed sonorants in Middle and Modern IA.)

(** A notable exception is Bengali, which still has only one
sibilant phoneme, which is [S] in most positions (except
next to /t_d/ IIRC. Unfortunately for schoolchildren the
spelling makes the etymological three way distinction...)

/BP 8^)>
Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se

    a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot

                                 (Max Weinreich)