by A. Zhurinsky. Translated and adapted by Tom Payne

Sanskrit is an ancient language of Northern India, and the sacred language of the Hindu religion. It is one of the oldest languages of the Indo-European language family. In fact, it was the discovery that Sanskrit was related to the languages of Europe, including English, that led linguists to recognize the existence of the Indo-European "family" of languages.

The following are some words or word stems in Sanskrit, using the Devanagari writing system. This is the writing system used in the Hindu sacred writings, known as the Vedas, in addition to many modern languages of South Asia. Each word has been spelled phonetically according to the Roman alphabet (on which the English alphabet is based):

vach  `to speak` dama 'house'
veda `knowledge` yad `because`
chud `to urge` nam `to honor`
mene `thought`

1. Write the following Sanskrit words phonetically using the Roman alphabet:


'to think'



'to hold'


2. Now, do you think it is possible to write ordinary English words using the Devanagari system? Maybe it would be easier than the Roman system -- no more complicated spelling rules! Anyway, see if you can write the following English words using the Devanagari system: