78. Besides these two vowel-quantities

Besides these two vowel-quantities, the Hindus acknowledge a third, called pluta (literally swimming), or protracted, and having three moras or three times the quantity of a short vowel. A protracted vowel is marked by a following figure 3: thus, आ३ ā3.

a. The protracted vowels are practically of rare occurrence (in RV., three cases; in AV., fifteen; in the Brāhmaṇa literature, decidedly more frequent). They are used in cases of questioning, especially of a balancing between two alternatives, and also of calling to a distance or urgently. The protraction is of the last syllable in a word, or in a whole phrase; and the protracted syllable has usually the acute tone, in addition to any other accent the word may have; sometimes it takes also anusvāra, or is made nasal.

b. Examples are: adháḥ svid āsī́3d upári svid āsī3t (RV.) was it, forsooth, below? was it, forsooth, above> idám bhū́yā́3 idā́3m íti (AV.) saying, is this more, or is that? ágnā́3i pátnīvā́3ḥ sómam piba (TS.) O Agni! thou with thy spouse! drink the soma.

c. A diphthong is protracted by prolongation of its first or a-element: thus, e to ā3i, o to ā3u.

d. The sign of protraction is also sometimes written as the result of accentual combination, when so-called kampa occurs: see below, 87 d.