with the length of the letter as written. For this reason, Bronson in his dictionary has
entirely abandoned the letter % i, and everywhere writes § i. Hem Chandra Barua
retains the distinction in writing.
Exactly the same remarks apply, mutatis mutandis* to the vowels i u and % 4.
Each is used indiscriminately, according to accent, fco represent both the u in 'put' and
the oo in ' poor/ Buonson (hut not Hem Chandra Barua) hence excludes ^ u from his
dictionary, and writes only ^ u,
The vowel ^ e is always pronounced short, like the e in * men.' It is hence trans-
literated e, not e. Its sound sometimes approaches that of the a in * cat.'
The diphthong J? di is pronounced like the oi in ' going.5 Its pronunciation is often
weakened to i, especially at the end of a word, hut this is considered a vulgarism. Thus,
instead of kariba-ldi, for doing, we often hear Icariba-li.
Brown describes the pronunciation of the vowel ^ o as follows : * It is nearly the u
in " hull," hut there is a slight verging towards the sound of o in " whole." 5 "When o is
followed in the next syllable by the vowel i, the o becomes a pure u% and is so written,
Tlius, bole, he says, but bulise, he is saying.
The vowel ^ aw is pronounced, as m in French, like the long o in 'note.1
The pronunciation of the consonants is as in Bengali, with
Consonants. exceptions :~
The letters T>, \ * W> and ^f, which in other languages are transliterated -cAa, chha, ja>
and jha, respectively, have, in Assamese, altogether lost the sounds thus represented. F
and f are both pronounced in the same way, viz., like the s in fi sin*1 In. order to dis-
tinguish between them, E is transliterated sa, and 5 ?«5 but there is not the least difference
in the pronunciation, For this reason, Bronson inhis dictionary has abandoned f ?#,
altogether, and writes only 5 sa throughout, In the same way, *F and ^ are both pro-
nounced like the French j9 the si in c vision,' the z in ' azure,5 or the s in ' pleasure,* and
are transliterated to, and ?a, respectively. So also Bronson has abandoned ^ ?a and writes
only sp za. At the end of a word these letters are pronounced lik$ a pure z, as in * zeal/
Thus, mez9 a table, tez, blood. Hem Chandra Barua retains all the four consonants,
The letters ^5 ra and 1? rha, are pronounced like ra and rha, respectively* Thus ^5
bar, pronounced bar. Bronson (but not Hem Chandra Baraa) hence excludes these two
letters from his dictionary. Similarly, common people pronounce all other cerebral
letters as if they were dentals. Thus du-ta, two, is pronounced du-t&. This is no doubt
due to the influence of tie many Tibeto-Burman languages in immediate contact with
Assamese, .which make no difference between dentals and cerebrals, and have, as in
English, only semi-cerebrals.
The letter "$ pha is often pronounced like an English/.
The letter 3 ya is pronounced like the y in * yes/ The letter ^ without the dot is
pronounced like the z in ' azure * and is transliterated ga. Whep 3 ya is combined with a
preceding consonant, the preceding syllable is sounded as if the letter i were added to it,
Thus bakya, a word; femya, empty; my a, another; are pronounced baikya, Jguinya, and
<tinya> respectively. The vulgar often also drop the ya, and pronounce these words baikt
&ww, and aw.
The letter ^ wa does not occur in Bengali, in which language an original toa-sound
becomes ^ 8a. Like the Bengali <I ia, ? wa, when forming the second element of a