The phoneme inventory of the Marathi language is similar to that of many other Indo-Aryan languages. An IPA chart of all contrastive sounds in Marathi is provided below.

Vowels edit

Vowels in native words are:

Front Central Back
long short short long
Close ɪ ʊ
Open-mid ɛː ə ɔː

There is no phonemic length distinction, even though it is indicated in the script. Some educated speakers try to maintain a length distinction in learned borrowings (tatsamas) from Sanskrit.[1]

There are no nasal vowels.

Marathi furthermore contrasts /əi, əu/ with /ai, au/.

There are two more vowels in Marathi to denote the pronunciations of English words such as of /æ/ in act and /ɔ/ in all. These are written as ⟨अ‍ॅ⟩ and ⟨ऑ⟩.

Marathi retains several features of Sanskrit that have been lost in other Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi and Bengali, especially in terms of pronunciation of vowels and consonants. For instance, Marathi retains the original diphthong qualities of ⟨ऐ⟩ [əi], and ⟨औ⟩ [əu] which became monophthongs in Hindi. However, as in Gujarati, Marathi speakers tend to pronounce syllabic consonant ऋ as [ru], unlike most other Indic languages which changed it to [ri] (e.g. the original Sanskrit pronunciation of the language's name was saṃskṛtam, while in day-to-day Marathi and Gujarati it is saṃskrut. In other Indic languages, it is closer to sanskrit). Spoken Marathi allows for conservative stress patterns in words like राम (rama) with an emphasis on the ending vowel sound, a feature that has been lost in Hindi.

Consonants edit

Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex (Alveolo-)
Velar Glottal
Nasal plain m n ɳ (ɲ) (ŋ)
murmured ɳʱ
voiceless p t t͡s ʈ t͡ɕ~t͡ʃ k
aspirated ~f ʈʰ t͡ɕʰ~t͡ʃʰ
voiced b d d͡z~z ɖ d͡ʑ~d͡ʒ ɡ
murmured d͡zʱ~ ɖʱ d͡ʑʱ~d͡ʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative s ʂ ɕ~ʃ h~ɦ
Approximant plain ʋ l ɭ j
murmured ʋʱ ()[4]
Flap/Trill plain ɾ~r (𝼈)[5]
murmured ɾʱ~
  • Marathi used to have a /t͡sʰ/ but it merged with /s/.[2]
  • Some speakers pronounce /d͡z, d͡zʱ/ as fricatives but the aspiration is maintained in /zʱ/.[2]

A defining feature of the Marathi language is the split of Indo-Aryan /la/ into a retroflex lateral flap (ḷa) and alveolar (la). For instance, कुळ (kuḷa) for the Sanskrit कुलम् (kulam, 'clan') and कमळ (kamaḷ) for Sanskrit कमलम् (kamalam 'lotus'). Marathi got possibly due to long contact from Dravidian languages; there are some words loaned from Kannada like ṭhaḷak from taḷaku but most of the words are native. Vedic Sanskrit did have /ɭ, ɭʱ/ as well, but they merged with /ɖ, ɖʱ/ by the time of classical Sanskrit.

References edit

  1. ^ Dhongde, Ramesh Vaman; Wali, Kashi (2009). Marathi. London Oriental and African Languages Library, 13. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  2. ^ a b c *Masica, Colin (1991), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2
  3. ^ Pandharipande, Rajeshwari V. (2003). Marathi. George Cardona and Dhanesh Jain (eds.), The Indo-Aryan Languages: London & New York: Routledge. pp. 789–790.
  4. ^ In Kudali dialect
  5. ^ Masica (1991:97)

External links edit