21. The short a

The short a is not pronounced in India with the full openness of ā, as its corresponding short, but usually as the “neutral vowel” (English so called “short u”, of but, son, blood, etc.). This peculiarity appears very early, being acknowledged by Pāṇini and by two of the Prātiçākhyas (APr. i. 36; VPr. i. 72), which call the utterance saṁvṛta, covered up, dimmed. It is wont to be ignored by Western scholars, except those who have studied in India.