How to pronounce yvāyaṃ?

Namo Buddhaya.

May I know how to pronounce yvāyaṃ ? I don’t know how to pronounce the front syllabus " yvā".
Is it a silent “y”?

With Mettā,

Note: Please “Like” the reply post that you agree is the correct instruction. Thank you.


Well, reading the devanagari script for this word, I would pronounce it as

“Y” as in the beginning of “Y”(ummy)
“v” as in the beginning “v”(ow)
“ā” as in “AA”(h)

The remaining “yaṃ” is voiced the same as “yum”

(I have zero idea of phonetics… just reading the Pali out naturally as it would be pronounced in India.)


SuttaCentral Voice has “yivah-young” which sounds reasonable to me … but, then, it’s also pronouncing “-aññu” suffixes in that sutta as “-anenyu” so… :man_shrugging: ( cc @karl_lew )


Namo Buddhaya,

If I recall correctly, it is a sandhi (junction) of “yo ayaṃ”. I think it’s a peculiar Burmese junction, not found in other manuscripts. The Burmese manuscripts have other peculiar junctions like this, like “kho ahaṃ > khvāham” or something. I’d just pronounce it as you would “yo ayaṃ”, maybe with a short “o”.


:rofl: Well, this is just Aditi’s incapacity of dealing with a double ñ. She seems to insert an extra syllable for it, but it should just be pronounced like in Spanish “señor”. We can’t get her to do better in this case, unfortunately. :woman_shrugging:

Apart from that, yvāyaṁ in her pronunciation amounts pretty much to what @Sunyo says; she says something like “yo-vāyaṁ”, with a very short “o”.


Ah! Fwiw, the Thai solution to the double “ññ” is to pretend the first “ñ” is an “n” and the second is a “y” :joy: In case that gives Aditi any ideas :slight_smile:


We’ll pass that on to the master of pronunciation editing, @karl_lew! :laughing:


Honestly, I’m learning Pali by listening to Aditi. Aditi is programmed to be “least objectionable” with an emphasis on conveyance of meaning. Collectively, we have all worked hard to make Aditi consistent and intelligible.

I doubt that Aditi’s Pali is exactly what the EBT authors spoke. However, I would also note that there are currently many different regional accents for any global language. Because of this, I’d say that Aditi has essentially evolved to be a Pali dialect.


No, every letter is pronounced. There’s no such thing as a silent letter in Indic scripts.

The “y” is a consonant, and I’d resist any tendency to vowelize the sound, on the assumption that the editors knew what they are doing and represented the spoken sounds correctly. Having said which it is hard to avoid, for me anyway, putting a short “i” or “u” after the “y”. Something like yⁱvāyaṁ.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. The PTS corpus I have locally has this roughly as often as the Burmese.


I would go for ywā/yaṁ, although adding an epenthetic vowel is a second Prakritic option.

It’s probably worth keeping in mind that Indian “v” isn’t really English “v”, it’s the semivowel (approximant) /ʋ/, which is in a pair with “u” which displays some positional variation and can slide around a little between what English speakers would call v and w.

Yvāyaṁ is basically the same thing as in tvaṁ, which can be pronounced strictly as t+v, but nonetheless readily becomes tuvaṁ in Pāli.


Not trying to be pedantic, but isn’t it classed as a semi-vowel? I’ve always understood that the semi-vowels can make their own sound in the mouth (unlike consonants that absolutely require a vowel to get anything out). I’ll admit, though, that of the semi-vowels, y is the hardest to get a sound out without sneaking in a little vowel. :slight_smile:

Well, I’d say the last thing we need is yet another variation on Pali pronunciation. :rofl: Especially one that doesn’t come from any living tradition. But I am glad that more people are able to experience some kind of Pali through Voice.


This is modern linguistics versus the traditions of Pāṇini, the Theravādin grammarists, etc.


I hate to imagine if you were trying! :wink:

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I was honestly thinking that there is a real difference between what (I guess modern) linguistics call consonants and semi vowels. When I am explaining basic Pali pronunciation to people, I point out that for (what I call) consonants that are doubled, there is always a silent gap between them. But for nasals, semivowels, and sibilants, the sound continues without a break. That one can make the sound of a semivowel without a vowel added. Hence it’s relevance to this conversation.


The semivowels (Pli=īsaka phuṭṭha) are made with slight [īsaka] contact [phuṭṭha]. In Sanskrit, they are called “īṣatspṛṣṭa”, expressing the same idea.

Due to being made with a slight contact of the tongue, I don’t know how to make a semivowel sound without an inherent vowel, which explains why they are given as ya, ra, la, va… etc in the alphabet. It is only the vowels which can be articulated without the aid of a vowel.

(…unless you know how to make the sounds r or l by themselves, which would be cool, but I really don’t know how to do this).

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Well, so are the nasals and sibilants, and they can also be sounded without a vowel.

Can’t you say “brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”?

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Brrrrr isn’t an allowable sound combination in Pali? I was thinking about what’s actually allowed in Pali, not what is physically possible. I mean, you could make the sound “hiss”, but Pali is going to make it into hissa, it’s just what Pali does. You could also make the sound “bam”, but it’s going to become “bama” in Pali. What to do?

P.S. My natural r is a “bunched” r with no contact, so unfortunately, I can only make a tapped retroflex r as a learned sound (shocking, I know). If I tried making multiple slight contacts with a tapped retroflex r with slight contact between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, I still have to add a vowel as ra, and I therefore cannot actually say the sound brrr (assuming retroflex r), in either my native English or in Pali (at least not without trilling it).


Anyway, I did try. Brrrr would be allowable in Sanskrit though as bṛ, if you wanted to take the semivowel r into vowel territory. Pali knows nothing about this sound.


Also when PTS’s source is manuscripts of non-Burmese origin?

I think i got that (that yvāyaṃ is a Burmese specific sandhi) from Bhikkhu Bodhi. Would be happy to be proven wrong. (I know PTS isn’t always clear on their sources, though.)