Visarga (IAST: visarga) (Sanskrit: विसर्गः) meaning "sending forth, discharge". In Sanskrit phonology (śikṣā), visarga (also called, equivalently, visarjanīya by earlier grammarians) is the name of a phone, [h], written as:
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Visarga is an allophone of /r/ and /s/ in pausa (at the end of an utterance). Since /-s/ is a common inflectional suffix (of nominative singular, second person singular, etc.), visarga appears frequently in Sanskrit texts. In the traditional order of Sanskrit sounds, visarga and anusvāra appear between vowels and stop consonants.
The precise pronunciation of visarga in Vedic texts may vary between Śākhās. Some pronounce a slight echo of the preceding vowel after the fricative: aḥ will be pronounced [ɐhᵄ], and iḥ will be pronounced [ihⁱ]. Visarga is not to be confused with colon.
The visarga is commonly found in writing, resembling the punctuation mark of colon or as two tiny circles one above the other. This form is retained by most Indian scripts.
According to Sanskrit phonologists, the visarga has two optional allophones, namely जिह्वामूलीय (Jihvāmūlīya or the guttural visarga) and उपध्मानीय (Upadhmānīya or the fricative visarge). The former may be pronounced before ⟨क⟩, ⟨ख⟩, and the latter before ⟨प⟩, and ⟨फ⟩, as in तव पितामहः कः ('who is your grandfather?'), पक्षिणः खे उड्डयन्ते ('birds fly in the sky'), भोः पाहि ('sir, save me'), and तपःफलम् ('result of penances'). Both of them are written as two crescent-shaped semi-circles one above the other, facing the top and bottom respectively. Distinct signs for Jihavamuliya and Upadhmania exists in Kannada, Tibetan, Sharada, Brahmi and Lantsa scripts.
In the Burmese alphabet, the visarga (variously called ရှေ့ကပေါက် shay ga pauk, ဝစ္စပေါက် wizza pauk, or ရှေ့ဆီး shay zi and represented with two dots to the right of the letter as ◌း), when used with joined to a letter, creates the high tone.
Motoori Norinaga invented a mark for visarga which he used in a book about Indian orthography.