Vedic Accents

Following the rules of Pan.ini in the formation of a word from its rudimentary
elements, the vowels acquire one of three basic pitch accents or svara :
(a) udatta, raised pitch [1.2.29],
(b) anudatta, not raised [1.1.30],
(c) svarita, a blend of the

su-kr. nonetheless be aware that the accent may a ect the meaning of a word. besides producing a new vowel sound. 6] it is further classi.hita. In continuous speech or sam. su-kr.1.g.g. The Vedas may also be recited entirely in ekasruti (with exceptions) [1. this is taken as the basic or unaccented form.31].e. one and a half measures for a long vowel) [1.2.158]. the anudatta immediately preceding a svarita or udatta is pronounced sannatara (lower than anudatta ) [1. Vowel sandhi .g.hita (continuous speech) [8. it is called an independent svarita by Western grammarians. and the other accents are marked as: (a) acute () for the udatta (e. also blends their accents: if this blending produces a svarita accent. however. between anudatta and udatta ) [1. 6. karma ).rst two [1. a word standing alone has at most one vowel accented udatta or svarita.223.ta. and where it arises due to the joining of words in sam. vakya).32]. well done. Since most vowels are anudatta. With rare exceptions.2.4.40].2.2. The pronunciation of the svarita is initially udatta for the period of half a short vowel and anudatta for the rest (i. This is the basis of the Western system of marking Vedic accents in transliteration. the rest being anudatta [6. Where this independent svarita is within a word it is called nitya or jatya (innate).36 .1. particularly a compound [6.2.1] (e. ind.].ta. all anudatta syllables following a svarita are called pracaya and are pronounced ekasruti (monotone.2. (b) grave () for the svarita (e.39].2. n. a good deed).

ed according to the type of sandhi : (a) Ks.aipra (quick) when the .

1 .77].).2. the name arises from the shortening of the time measure from that of a vowel to that of a semivowel. The svarita accent replaces an anudatta occuring immediately after the semivowel substitution for an udatta or svarita vowel [8. apsu antah.g. ) apsvantah.rst vowel is replaced by its semivowel [6.4] (e.1.

2.5]. and A=anudatta. becomes svarita optionally [8.. S i=independent svarita.g.6] (e.2.ta (coalescence) when both vowels are replaced by a single vowel [6. na eva ) nav  a). U + A or A + U ) U ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (3) (c) Abhinihita (close contact) when a following a is absorbed by a . (b) Praslis. the single substitute of an anudatta at the beginning of a word and the preceding udatta.1. U + A ) Si :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (2) This rule applies to sandhi between words. (U or S i) + A ) semivowel + S i ::::::::::::::::::::::::::(1) where U=udatta.84 ]. whereas the general rule is that the single replacement of udatta and anudatta vowels (in either order) is udatta [8.

U .A e caused by the udatta. the rule for the accent follows that of the praslis.A . U . An anudatta syllable following one that is udatta becomes svarita [8. so as to eliminate the ekasruti or even the dependent svarita. 2 . is pronounced kampa (tremolo) in some traditions: this would apply in the above three examples.A e .A e caused by the independent svarita. In sam.S d . ) rayo 0vanih.Sd :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (4) where S d = dependent svarita.4. S i . But U . Western grammarians name it the dependent. avanih.(S i or U) where K=kampa svarita. mere).. rayah.g.A e . where A s=sannatara.67]. or enclitic svarita.A ) U .A . unless it is in turn followed by an udatta or svarita [8. The cadence becomes more complex with the reduction of syllables separating the main accents (U and S i).1.(U or S) ) U .4.109].nal e or o [6. An independent svarita.S i .ta (e.). and A s . substitute. when the next syllable has an udatta or independent svarita accent.(U or S) :::::::::::::::::: (5) These rules combine to produce a rhythm in the sound: A s .(S i or U) ) K .hita there is a further svarita called suddha (simple. and A e=ekasruti.66].

125..the bhuvananu vsvotamum dyam vars.sami.manopa spr.the bhuvana anu vsva uta amum dyam vars. ( * optionally.At this point it would be useful to present a practical illustration of these accent changes that arise in continuous speech.) The tradition of Western sanskritists emphasizes grammar and translation.sami. The example is taken from the R. aham suve pitaram asya murdhan mama yonih. v tis. (4) (4) (5) (4) (1.s. it is unusual to .a upa spr. suve pitaram asya murdhan mama yonrapsvantah. tatah. kampa ) (4) aham. samudre. rule 2 could apply here and become kampa. and thus will use the form of separated words in transliteration.7): the verse is shown as separate words and then in sam.man. apsu antah. (5) (4) (5)(3)(5) (5) (3* ) (5) (3) (4) tato v t.gveda (10. samudre.hita showing the applicable rules.

India. the written form is a much later development and has given rise to di erent methods of accent notation.g. in fact. the svarita (jatya or suddha ) is marked with a vertical line above the syllable (e.nd fully accented sam. has an oral tradition which emphasizes pronunciation and rhythm. and thus the marking of accents in devanagar script is optimized for correct pronunciation. but the kampa is indicated by a numeral 1 following the vowel if it is short. The anudatta is marked with a horizontal bar below the syllable: this applies to all anudatta syllables before the .hita text in transliteration: at best only the udatta and jatya svarita are marked. A ). or the numeral 3 if it is long. on the other hand.g.gveda has udatta unmarked. and in both cases there is a vertical line above the numeral and a horizontal line below it. A1 ! A:a!3! A:a3! ). The various traditions are discussed separately: (a) R. in the case of the long kampa vowel the syllable usually also has a horizontal line below it (e.

e. after which only those anudatta that immediately precede an udatta or svarita (i. the accent marking in transliteration and the original devanagar is: 3 . Using the sample verse from the R.e. and the rest of the anudatta (i. sannatara ) is marked.gveda. ekasruti ) are not marked.rst udatta or svarita in a line of verse.

.sua:vea . a:va .   A! :hM . a:va.~å.sami.a:Ma v!a:SmRa:na:ea:pa .manopa spr. suve pitaramasya murdhan mama yonrapsva1ntah.=.a:m!a ya:ea: a:na.p~va1!.a:e!a:ta:a:mMUa dùÅ. let the .pxa:Za:a: a:ma Á Á To illustrate the notation when a verse begins with multiple anudatta syllables.the bhuvananu visvotamum.sa:mua:dÒe Á ta:ta:e!a . dyam. samudre.ma:~ya mUa:DR å ! a:n}. a:ta:Že! Bua:v!a:na:a:nua! .aham. a:p!a:ta.=!.ntaH . vars.(õ.      tato vi ts.

a:m!a For the R.sa:ve u! !a . to pronounce all syllables marked with the underbar (anudatta and sannatara ) as anudatta.ma:~ya mUa:DR ! a:n}.=. .  å Ö A! :hM ! . and anudatta are marked with the numerals 1. or numeral and letter. (b) Samaveda accents are marked with a numeral. the . all unmarked syllables (udatta and ekasruti ) as ekasruti. above the syllable: udatta. . 2. thus: aham.gveda the current practice in India is.rst word have no accent. and 3 respectively. svarita. suve pitaramasya murdhan mama . a:p!a:ta. apparently. and syllables marked svarita as moving from udatta to ekasruti.

vars. samudre. Special marking is used for particular accent sequences: U .gveda as an illustration.=.a:Ma va:SmRa:na:ea:pa . 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 2u 3 1 2 3k 2r 1 2 tato vi tis.3 A .~å. ekasruti syllables are not marked.sami. a:va . suve pitaramasya murdhanmama yonirapsvantah.unmarked .2r U .S i ) 3k .a:ma ya:ea: a:na.=.U .gure 2 is also used to indicate an udatta when there is no following svarita .unmarked .U . the marking in transliteration and devanagar would be: aham. dyam.sua:vea .pxa:Za:a: a:ma Á Á 4 .2r Using the same passage from the R. a:ta:Že Bua:va:na:a:nua .manopa spr.S ) 1 .p~va:ntaH . a:pa:ta. 2 3 1 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 2u 3 1 2r A:hM . a:va.a:ea:ta:a:mMUa dùÅ.(õ.A ) 2u ..sa:mua:dÒe Á ta:ta:ea .ma:~ya mUa:DRa:n}å.the bhuvananu visvotamum.

M. (f) Taittirya-Sam. para.S.(õ. mainly in the marking of the svarita before an udatta. para. -Brahman. the anudatta is marked with a horizontal or vertical line below (A! AÉ ).M.ini is rather indirect: the anudatta marked here are the syllables before those which would be marked svarita in the R. A Vedic Grammar for Students.ma:~ya .a:ea:ta:a:mMUa .hita. the accent marking would be: A:hM ! . Works consulted: (a) S. the dependent svarita has a horizontal line crossing the middle of the syllable or three vertical strokes above it (Aœ ) or a dot below it (AÍ ).a:M!a . the independent svarita is indicated by a curve below (Až ). (g) Bureau of Indian Standards. The relationship to the grammatical accents described by Pan.pxa:Za:a: a:ma Á Á Caution: beyond this point.dùÅ. The Siddhanta Kaumud. (e) Ka.. (h) The Bha. Lang.A.!a:ma . Motilal Banarsidass.(c) Satapatha-Brahman. (b) S.thaka-Sam .~å.t. and Atharva- Veda. otherwise by a hook below (Aâ ò ).gveda. udatta and anudatta : a horizontal line below the syllable indicates anudatta (as in the R. Vasu. (d) W. ISCII (1991). hita marks the udatta with a vertical line above the syllable. with minor di erences. Macdonell.sa:mua:dÒe Á . Baroda. (e) M.=. Williams. Abhyankar. Whitney.hita are marked as the R. the information to hand is incomplete and should be treated circumspectly.gveda .sua:vea . the independent svarita is indicated by a curve below (Až ) only if an anudatta follows.gveda ). (f) K. yaka. Using the sample verse from the R. A Dictionary of Sanskrit Grammar.975{985. Annex G. a:v!a .ini. (c) A.gveda with rule (5) not applying.C.80{97. (d) Maitrayan. George Cardona.a. Katre. and -Aran  . a:v!a.va:SmRa:na:e!a:pa . As. Sanskrit Grammar.mUa:DRa:n}å.a uses only two accents. the dependent svarita has a dot below the accented syllable (AÍ ).t!a:ta:ea . A Practical Grammar of the Skt.Ba:va:na:! u! a:nua . and Vajasaneyi-Sam.V.D.p~va:nt!aH . 5 . Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik 18 (1993): 1{40. Motilal Banarsidass.=!. Univ. a:ta:Že .-Sam . a:pa:t!a.sika Accentuation System. Appendix III.adhyay of Pan. the anudatta is marked with a horizontal line below. hita marks the udatta with a vertical line above the syllable.ya:e!a: a:na.

hita A Až Aâ ò AÍ A! AÉ Taittirya-Brahman. yaka -Sam.hita A A1 ! A! 3! A3 ! A! Taittirya-Upanis.a.hita.thaka-Sam. -Aran A A1! A! Atharvaveda A A A1 ! A! 3! A3 ! A! Vajasaneyi-Sam.  .-Sam.gveda A A1 ! A! 3! A3 ! A! Samaveda A A A A A A Satapatha A! Maitrayan.hita A Až Aœ AÍ A! Ka.ad A A  A! Sukla Yajurveda AŸ Non-Tait. Yajurveda AÉï ??? Sentence ending AÍÍ This . Notation udatta svarita anudatta special R.

ac.za/wikner/accent.ps600-june97. 6 .le (possibly updated) is available from: ftp://ftp.za. Comments and corrections to: wikner@nac.nac.ac. 25 June 1997.