Sanskrit, the language of yoga, is written in Devanagari script. This highly phonetic language does not have exact equivalents in English. Therefore, transliterations exist, enabling Westerners to approximate the original Sanskrit sounds. The transliteration style used by Quiet Karma is based on the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST).
Vowels and Pronunciation
a as in sun, but
ā as in calm, far
i as in bit, sit
ī as in seen, feet
u as in push, put
ū as in moon, room
e as in they, say, may
ai is a diphthong and is pronounced as in like, my
o as in joke, poke
au is a diphthong and is pronounced as in how
ṛ (letter r with a dot under it) is considered a vowel and is pronounced as in rude, prune
Note: Extremely rare vowels have been omitted here.
Consonants and Pronunciation
Consonants and their conjunctions are usually followed by vowels, shown here with a. For additional notes on pronunciation, see below.
Simple consonants, such as ka, are pronounced with minimal breath, much less than in typical Western speech. Those consonants followed by h are pronounced with additional breath. Practice by placing your hand in front of your mouth. You should feel no breath with simple consonants and some breath with aspirated consonants.
ṅ, ṁ are pronounced nasally
c is pronounced as in chop, reach
ñ is pronounced as in canyon, onion
ṭ, ḍ, ṇ are pronounced with the tip of the tongue bent back to touch the roof of the mouth
t, d, n are pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the top teeth
ś, ṣ are pronounced as in shine, shower
ḥ is often found at the end of a phrase;
it is pronounced with a slight aspiration as ha
jñ a common Sanskrit conjunction; it is nasally pronounced as gnya
An apostrophe is used to replace an a when two words are joined.