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Pronunciation Guidelines

Posted by on October 14, 2014

Rules and conventions we shall be using

Konkani language sounds, like the sounds of all or at least most other languages, can be categorized into vowels and consonants.

Vowels

Konkani has 7 distinct vowels, all of which can be nasalized and many of which can also be combined into diphthongs. They are

a       e       ê       i       o       ô       u

Of the above vowels,  i could sometimes be used almost like a consonant, i.e., like y, which is the case in other languages as well.

The vowel a is considered to be always open, whereas i and u are always closed. On the other hand, e and o can be either open or closed. When open, they are pronounced as and , and when closed, they are pronounced as and respectively. The general rule is that when e and o are written with a circumflex, they are always closed and pronounced as and respectively, whereas without a circumflex they can be either open, i.e., pronounced as and respectively, or closed and pronounced as  and respectively. Here are the rules that tell you when they should be open and when closed. It is important to note that in all the rules below, the presence of consonants is totally disregarded, and only vowels are considered.

  • In any word, if any e or o is immediately (again disregarding consonants) followed by a closed vowel, the e or o is closed (as if it has a circumflex), so no circumflex need be placed on it to indicate that it is a closed sound. Examples:

       a) in the word chori,  the o is closed because it is followed by the closed vowel i, and so the o need not have a circumflex to indicate that it is closed.

       b) in the words  chora  and jirona,  the o is open because it is followed by a which is an open vowel.

  • But if an e or an o that is followed by an open vowel in the same word has a closed sound, then it has to be indicated by placing a circumflex over it. For example, in the word chêddva, the e is followed by the open vowel a in the same word and so it normally ought to have been an open vowel, but it happens to be closed and hence a circumflex is needed to indicate that.
  • As a corollary to the above, we could add that the openness or closeness of a vowel has an effect only on the vowel that precedes it, but not on the vowel that follows it, in the same word.

 

Consonants

b    ch (which can be either hard or soft )*    d       dd       f       g      h      j      k      l      ll      lh      m      n      nn      nh     p      r      s      t    tt    v      x      y       z

*depending on whether it is followed by a vowel and if so, which one.

Almost all of the above consonants can take an aspirated sound, in which case an h is to be inserted immediately after them. Note the double-lettered consoants and their sounds as compared with the single-lettered ones.

With this introduction, we can move over to conversational Konkani. If you want to learn Konkani, this is the section for you. The grammar section is not meant to do that, but to give one a deeper insight into the language and for reference purposes. There was a time when we used to learn languages by studying their grammar rules. Today such language-learning techniques are considered obsolete and have been replaced by much more efficient Assimil, Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone and other methods. So in this section, we shall try to impart knowledge of spoken Konkani somewhat along those lines. We wish you all success in the your pursuit of spoken Konkani skills.

However, while other sections of this website can proceed at their own, and faster, pace, the Spoken Konkani section has certain requirements that cannot always be met, and so is likely to be less regular, at least at this inception stage. We thank you for your patience.

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