28. The e and o

The ए e and ओ o are, both in India and Europe, usually pronounced as they are transliterated — that is, as a long e- (English “long a”, or e in they) and o-sounds, without diphthongal character.

a. Such they apparently already were to the authors of the Prātiçākhyas, which, while ranking them as diphthongs (saṁdhyakṣara), give rules respecting their pronunciation in a manner implying them to be virtually unitary sounds. But their euphonic treatment (131–4) clearly shows them to have been still at the period when the euphonic laws established themselves, as they of course were at their origin, real diphthongs, ai (a + i) and au (a + u). From them, on the same evidence, the heavier or vṛddhi diphthongs were distinguished by the length of their a-element, as āi (ā + i) and āu (ā + u).

b. The recognizable distinctness of the two elements in the vṛddhi-diphthongs is noticed by the Prātiçākhyas (see APr. i. 40, note); but the relation of those elements is either defined as equal, or the a is made of less quantity than the i and u.