What is the origin if the "i" in the language name "Sanskrit" (instead of "Sanskṛt"). Is this an epenthetic vowel inserted by English-speaking authors or by Hindi-speaking authors of today (I found something called svarbhakti but I do not know much about it) or does it have older origins?

I hope the question is not considered too trivial or obvious. For example, in Old Czech there used to be vocals associated with inherited consonantal liquids, but now there are only remnants in certain dialects and in old manuscript, so stuff like this can change in time.

  • In Modern Czech syllabic sonorants (/r/ and /l/, rarely also /m/ and /n/) can be found in the syllable nucleus, e.g. vlk [vl̩k] ('wolf'), krk [kr̩k] ('neck'), osm [osm̩] ('eight'), and the closely related Slovak has not only [l̩] and [r̩], but also their long counterparts [l̩ː] and [r̩ː], just as most of the Slovak vowel monophthongs: /r, l/ can be syllabic: /r̩, l̩/. When they are long (indicated in the spelling with the acute accent: ŕ, ĺ), they are always syllabic, e.g. vlk (wolf), prst (finger), štvrť (quarter), krk (neck), bisyllabic vĺča—vĺ-ča (wolfling), vŕba—vŕ-ba (willow-tree), etc.
    – Yellow Sky
    Apr 8, 2021 at 15:17
  • @YellowSky correct Apr 8, 2021 at 15:18
  • What do you mean by "inherited consonantal liquids"? Apr 14, 2021 at 6:18
  • @OmarL Consonatal liquids inherited from Proto-Slavic. Apr 14, 2021 at 6:52

3 Answers 3


Sanskrit still had syllabic resonants. Many modern Indo-Aryan languages have lost these. I believe the word Sanskrit entered English via Hindi, which generally reflects Sanskrit ṛ as ri


The vowel ऋ, used in Sanskrit (संस्कृत), does not survive in modern Indian languages. It is realised as रि (ri) in some parts and रु (ru) in others today. The Roman 'i' is a result of transcription from the former type of language.


"ri" transcribes a vocalic trilled "r" (apical placement I do not know, I think alveo palatal), also found in "Rig" Vedas, "krshna", etc. as my memory serves me. I think it a bit like "brz" meaning "fast" in Macedonian (?i think), brzo in Serbian (which I learned as "brzıt" pronounced as two syllables by a Zagreb native speaker I played chess with in high school, so can't completely vouch for ıt now (LoL), hadn't yet graduated from wiseacrer to credentialed linguistics x-spurt (^O^) --> (T_T)

  • It does not transcribe it, it evolved from it, and whether it was trilled or not isn't the point; it's that it was syllabic (acting as a vowel), which was permitted in Sanskrit but not in many of its daughter languages.
    – Cairnarvon
    Apr 14, 2021 at 20:19
  • @Cairnarvon ṛi was sometimes used in older Western linguistic literature to transcribe the Sanskrit syllabic [r̩], though these days is used. (Of course the transcription was based on the modern reflex [ri], but it's still a transcription.)
    – TKR
    Apr 14, 2021 at 21:36

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