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What does Sanskrit reveal about the scope and richness of human speech?
Posted on: 26/9/2020

Sanskrit is like a jewel with many facets. One of its many special aspects is what it shows about the scope and richness of human speech.

Families of sound : The sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet show that human language rests on orderly groupings, or families, relating to 5 main positions in the mouth. Each sound, or letter, has one pronunciation only, unlike a language such as English where the letter ‘e’ can be pronounced in many ways, often for no apparent reason.

Sound quality: Body and mind are intricately involved in a system of precise articulation:

Contact/non-contact: Rules govern where, when, how or if the tongue touches the mouth.

Use of breath: Employing the right amount of breath for different sounds is important. This practice increases awareness of the refinements of human speech and may also help to promote good health.

Vibration: Vibration and lack of vibration in various areas of the upper body shows the varying but orderly nature of sound.

Measure: The length of vowels (long or short) is significant for the sound and the  meaning of words. This is closely associated with emphasis.

Emphasis: The three rules for ‘heavy/guru’  and light/laghu when applied correctly create an exquisite and satisfying rhythm.

The Alphabet:  – Alphabet snap columns relate to mouth position. Rows relate to sound quality and method of articulation.

Importance in education: Writing the Devanagari symbols encourages fine motor and artistic skills. The technique of hearing a sound whilst writing it helps to develop concentration and coordination.

Sanskrit improves clarity of speech, refines listening and raises awareness of the power and extent of the human speech apparatus. The orderly system of sounds and letters assists less able learners, while the mental rest provided by sounds such as long measures and resonant nasal sounds promotes calmness, emotional stability and a feeling of well-being.

Accurate implementation of the rules of pronunciation gives rise to intellectual agility and joy, and can have a surprisingly enlivening, awakening effect.

Beauty of everyday speech and confidence of communication are both enhanced by practising Sanskrit.

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