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Sanskrit and Hindi both use the Devanagari script. It it interesting to note that there are letters which are used by only one of these languages and not the other.

Used only in Sanskrit are letters Lri, and Rii. I would request if any example of their usage be given and also why were these letters never used in Hindi.

  • I haven't learnt Sanskrit, so I don't know good references to cite. On teh interwebs, people say that lri and rii were invented by Sanskrit phoneticians, as letters that should exist, for the sake of completeness, but apparently they are not in use in Sanskrit either, because they are difficult to pronounce. – prash Sep 26 '13 at 18:49
  • Devanagari is used for lots of languages. Nepali and Marathi are pretty major ones. I know Marathi has at least one letter not used in Nepali. And of course it's for the same reasons Hungarian, Icelandic, or Lithuanian has extra letters not used by English - because they have extra sounds and decided an extra letter would be a good way to deal with that. (Sanskrit is also written in other scripts besides Devanagari.) ... Didn't notice this is a nice old question already (-: – hippietrail Apr 8 '14 at 8:13
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First of all it is not completely right to say that Sanskrit and Hindi both use the Devanagari script.

It is true that Devanagari script is the native script of Hindi, which is also written in other scripts such as Urdu script and roman script (mainly in social media and Hinglish). Sanskrit, on the other hand, has no native script whatsoever and it is written in several scripts in Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and it has been so since ancient times. It is quite possible that two Sanskrit speakers (one from North India and second from Thailand) perfectly understand each other while talking but still not be able to understand a single letter of each other's writing.

Letters you are referring to (Lri, Rii etc.) belong to Sanskrit alphabet not the Hindi alphabet. The Devanagari script is not exclusive to Hindi and is used to write alphabets of other languages such as Marathi and Sanskrit as well. As an other example, Marathi alphabet has some letters that are not in Hindi or Sanskrit alphabets but they all use Devanagari script.

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    Furthermore, there are letters in Devanagari that represent sounds that don't even occur in Sanskrit, let alone Hindi, but have been posited abstractly by the gurus to use in roots, although they're always changed in words. An example is the long syllabic /l/. – jlawler Sep 26 '13 at 20:19
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    This is 100% business as usual in scripts that are used for more than one language. Even scripts such as Georgian and Lao have a couple of letters not used by their namesake language but only for one or more nearby minority languages. And the Arabic, Cyrillic, and Roman scripts have loads of extra letters than what are used in Arabic, Russian, or English. – hippietrail Sep 27 '13 at 13:40
  • Correct. Only here we have a case where "lri and rii were invented by Sanskrit phoneticians, as letters that should exist, for the sake of completeness"...of the grammatical rules. Quite natural then that; Hindi grammar being different; these vowels had no relevance there. – ARi Sep 27 '13 at 15:42
  • Is there any other Indian language where these vowels are used ? – ARi Sep 27 '13 at 19:43
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    @ARi: The long vowel ṝ is used in Sanskrit, most prominently in the genitive ("6th case") plurals of ṛ-ending words: "of fathers" is pitṝṇāṃ, "of brothers" is "bhrātṝṇāṃ", etc. The long ḹ on the other hand doesn't even always appear in alphabet lists. – ShreevatsaR Sep 29 '13 at 0:32

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