Pronunciation and Phonetics

Learning proper pronunciation can be done without much knowledge of phonetics, actually. A basic knowledge, however, helps to make pronunciation clearer and thus facilitates the process of learning how to speak a foreign language properly.

eAmbalam introduces a phonetic chart which is based on Dhevanagari script. The sounds of vowels and consonants and other speech sounds in Sanskrit and the languages which have completely or mostly borrowed from it can be covered with the help of the chart. A few other sounds common to some languages in this group and outside are also put in. Unique sounds of some languages are specified too.

Diacritical marks are used to aid perfect pronunciation. World over, these marks have been created and propagated by scholars to make understanding of the differences in speech sounds in different languages better. Team eAmbalam also has created a phonetic chart which helps even first timers to pronounce words accurately.

Our Phonetic chart is unique, comprehensive, learner friendly and is divided into four columns wherein:
  • In the first column, the letter is written with the associated diacritical mark.
  • In the second column, an example is given in Dhevanagari language containing the letter.
  • In the third column, an example is given in English, which contains the sound closes to the letter or instructions in few cases, to facilitate better understanding.
  • In the fourth column, an audio button is placed with the help of which you can hear the actual pronunciation of the letter.
An open minded approach with the above introduction and guidelines will definitely enable the user to understand the speech sounds of any language and pronounce it like a native, which is eAmbalam’s aim in this exercise.

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
A or a Aḍavu Arise
Ā or ā Ānanda Vast
I or i Indhira Sing
Ī or ī Īśha Meal
U or u U ṣhā Good
Ū or ū Ū rdhhva Boost
R or r Riṣh i Try
Ṛ or ṛ Ni ṛ uti Grr!
Lr or lr   Pronounce L and R together.
E or e Eka Ate
AI or ai Aikya Sight
O or o Ojas Robe
AU or au Audh ā rya Now
A M or am Śhiva m Drum
A HA or aha R ā ma ha Aha!
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English

Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English
KA or ka Kavi Car
KHA or kha Khalu Mark -Him
GA or ga Gamana Gut
GHA or gha Ghata Ugh!
Ṅ A or ṅa Tura ṅ ga Ring
CHA or ca Chakra Chart
CHHA or cha Chhandas Branch
JA or ja Jagath Jug
JHA or jha Jhallari Fudge
NYA or nya Gnyana Knew
Ṭ A or ṭ Ṭ anka Top
ṬHA or ṭha Pāṭha Pothole
ḌA or da Ḍ amaruka Dog
Ḍ HA or ḍ ha Mūḍ ha Madhouse
Ṇ A or ṇ a Ga ṇ a Wander
THA or tha Thanu Health
THHA or thha Athha Theater
DHA or dha Dha śha This
DHHA or dhha Dhhana m Dha with an additional H sound
NA or na Namask ā raha Nut
PA or pa   Path ā ka Past
PHA or pha Phala m P with a H sound
BA or ba Bandhhu Ball
BHA or bha Bhadra Abhor
MA or ma Manas Money
YA or ya Yama Yummy
RA or ra Rajas Rub
LA or la Lath ā Lust
VA or WA, va /wa A śh va or A śhwa Water/Valour
ŚHA or śha Śhakthi Shutter
ṢHA or ṣ ha Ṣh a ṇ mukha Shunt
SA or sa Sarasvatī Sun
HA or ha Hari Hum
Ḷ A or ḷ a Ar āḷ a Bold
KṢHA or k ṣ ha Ak ṣh i Try to pronounce Ka, Sa & Ha – all at one time.
Extra Vowels in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam Scripts    
É or é Éṇi Angel
Ō or ō Ō m Ō M
ZHA Exclusive to Tamil & Malayalam Fold the tip of your tongue backwards and try to pronounce it with the aid of the audio button.
Syllable Usage in Sanskrit Usage in English


Spoken Kannada Guide


Kannada is one of the most well known Dravidian languages of India. It is spoken predominantly in the state of Karnataka in India. Though a significant number of Kannada speaking people can also be found in USA, UAE, Singapore, Australia and UK, all of whom have migrated from India. On an average, there are about 35 million Kannadigas i.e. the Kannada speaking people in the world, making it the 27th most spoken language in the world. It is one of the official languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka in the country.


The early rulers of Karṇātaka were predominantly from North India. Parts of Karṇātaka were subject to the rule of the Nandhas and the Mauryas. The Śhathavāhanas (30 B.C to 230 A.D ) ruled over extensive areas in Northern Karṇātaka. Karṇātaka fell into the hands of the Pallavas of Kānchi. Pallavas domination was ended by indigenous dynasties, the Kadhambas of Banavāsi and the Gangas of Kolār, who divided Karṇātaka between themselves.

  • History of the Language:

The early development of the Kannaḍa language is very similar to that of other Dravidian languages and has been independent of the Sanskrit influence. However during later centuries, Kannaḍa, like the other Dravidian languages like Thelugu, Tamil and Malayā ḷ am was greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary style. One of the old Aśhoka Rock edicts of 230 B.C. also contains identifiable Kannaḍa. Kannaḍa as a language has undergone modifications since BC. It can be classified into four types- 1) Pūrva Haḷegannada (from the beginning till 10 th Century).2) Haḷegannada (from 10 th Century to 12 th Century).3) Nadugannada (from 12 th Century to 15 th Century).4) Hosagannada (from 15 th Century).

In brief, the history of Kannaḍa is conventionally divided in three periods, Old Kannaḍa (600 - 1200), Middle Kannaḍa (1200 - 1700) and Modern Kannaḍa (1700 - present).  

Style and vocabulory

The Kannaḍa language has been spoken for about 2500 years, with the Kannaḍa writing system being in use for about last 1900 years. During later centuries, Kannaḍa, along with Thelugu, has been highly influenced by Sanskrit vocabulary and literary styles.

Kannaḍa is written horizontally from left to right. The basic set of symbols in Kannaḍa consists of 35 consonants and 14 vowels.

Kannaḍa language spoken by both men and women have common vocabulary. But in certain situations, some vocabularies which are spoken by the male members of the society are not used by women. It is considered as tabooed for the women folk. Similarly certain lexicons used by women are restricted only for them and it is not used by women in social gathering, public places etc.

Kannaḍa Script

Kannaḍa script is the visual form of Kannaḍa language. It originated from southern Brāmhi lipi of Aśhoka period. It underwent modifications periodically in the reign of Śhāthavāhanas, Kadhambas, Gangas, Rāṣhtrakūṭas, and Hoysaḷas. Even before seventh-Century, the Thelugu-Kannaḍa script was used in the inscriptions of the Kadhambas of Banavāsi and the early Chalukya of Badhāmi in the west. Kannaḍa and Thelugu scripts emerged in the thirteenth Century. Kannaḍa script is also used to write Tuḷu, Konkaṇi and Koḍava languages.

The language uses forty-nine  phonemic letters, divided into three groups: swaragau  (vowels – thirteen letters); vyanjanagau  (consonants – thirty-four letters); and yogavāhakagau  (neither vowel nor consonant – two letters: the  anusvāraಂ  and the  visargaಃ ), . The Kannaḍa script is almost perfectly phonetic, but for the sound of a "half n" (which becomes a half m). The number of written symbols, however, is far more than the forty-nine characters in the alphabet, because different characters can be combined to form compound characters (otthakhara) .

There are nine gender forms in Kannaḍa. However, in  modern Kannaḍa literature only three gender forms are used in practice: masculine, feminine, and neutral.

Systematically designed Kannaḍa script font contains the conjunct glyph components, but they are not encoded as Unicode characters, because they are the resultant of ligation of distinct letters. Kannaḍa script rendering software must be able to map appropriate combinations of characters in context to the appropriate conjunct glyphs in fonts. There are a number of True Type fonts available for Kannaḍa among which some of them follow an encoding standard (like ISCII) and others do not follow any encoding standard and is tied to a proprietary encoding.

Link/relation with other languages

Based on the generally accepted theory that Kannaḍa and Tamil originated from a common Dravidian source, Kannaḍa, along with other Dravidian languages like Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc., has also been greatly influenced by Sanskrit in terms of vocabulary, grammar and literary styles. Kannaḍa script is used to write Tulu, which is a related language as it has no script of its own. Kannaḍa script is very close to the Telugu script both with regard to the shapes of the letters and in the way the conjunct consonants behave.



English Kannada
Hello Namaskaara/ Hello
How are you? Neevu hegidheera?(Elders/respect) Neenu hegidheeya?(Peers/Junior/Casual)
I am fine, Thank you! Naanu chennagidhene
My name is …………….. Nanna hesaru………
What is your name? Nimma hesarenu?
  Ninna hesarenu? (Peer/Younger/Casual)
Where is the bus stand? Bus nildhaana ellidhe?
How far is the railway station? Railu nildhaana eshtu dhooradallidhe?
Where is the airport located? Vimaana nildhaana ellidhe?
How much does this item (any item) cost? I vasthuvina bele enu?
Where is the medical shop? Aushadha angadi ellidhe?
Which is a good hotel in this area? Ii sthaladhalli yaava hotel olleyadhu?
What is the minimum fare in an auto/taxi? Auto/Taxi kanishtha shulka enu? (you may use “ minimum” which is in vogue instead of kanishta)
How far is a shopping mall from here? Vyaapaara malige eshtu dhooradhallidhe? (You may use the word mall instead of the chaste expression)
Do you know music or dance? Nimage sangeetha athava nruthya gotthhaa?
How? Hege?
What? Enu?
Why? Eke?
Where? Elli?
When? Yaavaaga?
Thank you! Dhanyavaadhagalu!


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