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Full text of "Linguistic Survey Of India Vol V Part I Indo Aryan Family Eastern Group"

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6                                                                          EASTERN GROUP,

applying this test, it will be seen that these characteristic points are numerous and
important. Attention will also be drawn to the fact that in many cases Marathi, the
Southern Indo- Aryan language, agrees with the Eastern languages as against those of the


Taking first the phonetic system of the group, we find that the pronunciation of

the commonest vowel in all the languages, the letter a, is much
Phonetic system.            broader than in the west. In Assamese it has even the sound of

o in * glory/ in Bengali and Oriya it has commonly the sound of o in 'hot/ and some-
times the sound of o in * hope/ and in Bihari, the most western dialect of the group
it is flatter, but has not yet achieved the western sound of u in ' nut/ Indeed, wo may
say that in this group the vowel has, generally speaking, two sounds, a short and a
long one, the short being based on the sound of the o in * hot,' and the second on the
sound of the a in * all/ It represents a true pair of short and long vowels strange to
the western languages, of which the short sound is heard in its greatest purity in
Bengali, and the long one in Bihari.1 In an exactly similar way the long a has
developed in the Eastern Group into a pair of short and long vowels, the first approaching
the sound of the a in c man/ and the second that of the a in * father/ Of these only
the latter occurs, so far as my observation extends, in the language of the west.3 The
voVels e and o have also each developed into a short and a long pair. This is also
the case in Western dialects, but is far more common in, and is a most prominent feature
of the Eastern group. The short e is pronounced like the e in * met,* and the short o
like the first o in * promote/ *

As regards the consonants,— (1) the languages of the Eastern group show a marked

preference for the letters r and rh over the cerebral f and f h.   Even when one of the

latter pair of letters is written, it is often pronounced merely as a dental.   So also,

except in Oriya, which is influenced by the Dravidian languages of Southern India, a

cerebral » is always pronounced in the Eastern Group as if it were a dental it.   In

Assamese and Eastern Bengali this dislike to cerebral sounds is carried to an extreme,

and every letter of that class is commonly pronounced as if it were a dental   On the

other hand, as we go west, the tendency to emphasise the character of the cerebral

letters is more and more marked, and the burr of the cerebral 9 of PanjabI is one of the

most characteristic peculiarities of that language.   (2) Bengali and Assamese show

great uncertainty in the pronunciation of the palatal letters.  The further eaat we go

the greater is the tendency to pronounce a cA as if it were to or a, a chh as if it were 8,

and a/ as if it were &   The same peculiarity is observable in MaratM.   (3) The Eastern

languages cannot tolerate an initial y or 10, while one or other is often added euphoni*

cally in the Western languages.   Thus, while Bihaii has ?, this, u, that, Hindi has

yah and wft,   (4) One of the most typical peculiarities of the Magadhi Prakrit was

that it pronounced an * something like the English *h.   Exactly the same pronunciation

prevails in Bengali at the present day*   In Assamese the sound has been further

weakened to almost the sound of the ch in * loch/  On the other hand, Bihari and Ojiya

follow the western custom of pronouncing an sh as if it were 9.   This pronunciation of

m*r*$ beat pronounced 'rnfrA'  (the latter 4
tjBffcftots fre sound of a m ' all ').
Compare Bihirftytf, * daughter,