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Spelling “Ram” and “Arjun” as “Rama” and “Arjuna”: Why?

My answer to: Why are all the Hindu mythological characters such as Ram, Raavan, Laxman, Arjun written as Rama, Ravana and so on in English books? (To vote and comment on Quora, visit the link here.)

Most Indo-Aryan languages have something called the schwa deletion in their phonetics. The schwa deletion consists of not pronouncing certain vowels, for example: Rama, in its true Sanskrit form, is an “akaarant” word (ending in “a”—”a” as in “err”) is the combination of the sounds R +  ā + m + a . However, the trailing “a” is not pronounced in everyday Hindi (schwa deletion). It is so in almost every Hindi word that ends in the schwa sound. (The concept of schwa deletion is similar to the silent “r” in English words.)

1. The names can be transliterated the most accurately to the Roman script as “Rāma”, “Rāvaṇa”, “Lakṣmaṇa” and “Arjuna”. The following three are inaccurate forms:

2. Taking the schwa deletion practice into account while transliterating, the most accurate transliteration is “Rām”, “Rāvaṇ”, “Lakṣmaṇ” and “Arjun”.

3. Taking the schwa deletion practice into account, but ignoring the exact vowels (ā for आ), and consonants (ṇa for ण, and ṣa for ष)  (assuming them to be understood by the reader), the spellings become “Ram”, “Ravan”, “Lakshman”, “Arjun”.

4. In an attempt to transliterate according to the actual Sanskrit pronunciation (i.e. without the schwa deletion), but taking liberty of ignoring the accurate vowels and consonants (assuming them to be understood by the reader), the spellings become “Rama”, “Ravana”, “Lakshman” and “Arjun”.

I hope that helps into figuring out where the spellings come from, and what is correct and what is not.

1 Response
  • Dushyant parashar
    Jun 9, 2017

    Yes. .. i have understand .. thanks a lot .

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