189. The dental nasal

Conversion of न् n to ण् ṇ.

The dental nasal न् n, when immediately followed by a vowel or by न् n or म् m or य् y or व् v, is turned into the lingual ण् ṇ if preceded in the same word by the lingual sibilant or semivowels or vowels—that is to say, by ष् ṣ, र् r, or ऋ ṛ or ॠ ṝ—: and this, not only if the altering letter stands immediately before the nasal, but at whatever distance from the latter it may be found: unless, indeed, there intervene (a consonant moving the front of the tongue: namely) a palatal (except य् y), a lingual, or a dental.

a. We may thus figure to ourselves the rationale of the process: in the marked proclivity of the language toward lingual utterance, especially of the nasal, the tip of the tongue, when once reverted into the loose lingual position by the utterance of a non-contact lingual element, tends to hang there and make its next nasal contact in that position; and does so, unless the proclivity is satisfied by the utterance of a lingual mute, or the organ is thrown out of adjustment by the utterance of an element which causes it to assume a different posture. This is not the case with the gutturals or labials, which do not move the front part of the tongue (and, as the influence of k on following s shows, the guttural position favors the succession of a lingual): and the y is too weakly palatal to interfere with the alteration (as its next relative, the i-vowel, itself lingualizes a s).

b. This is a rule of constant application; and (as was pointed out above, 46) the great majority of occurrences of ṇ in the language are a result of it.