73. Two different signs

a. Two different signs, ं and ँ, are found in the manuscripts, indicating the nasal sound here treated of. Usually they are written above the syllable, and there they seem most naturally to imply a nasal affection of the vowel of the syllable, a nasal (anunāsika) vowel. Hence some texts (Sāma- and Yajur-Vedas), when they mean a real anusvāra, bring one of the signs down into the ordinary consonant-place; but the usage is not general. As between the two signs, some manuscripts employ, or tend to employ, the ँ where a nasalized (anunāsika) vowel is to be recognized, and elsewhere the ं; and this distinction is consistently observed in many European printed texts; and the former is called the anunāsika sign: but the two are doubtless originally and properly equivalent.

b. It is a very common custom of the manuscripts to write an anusvāra-sign for any nasal following the vowel of a syllable, either before another consonant or as final (not before a vowel), without any reference to whether it is to be pronounced as nasal mute, nasal semivowel, or anusvāra. Some printed texts follow this slovenly and undesirable habit; but most write a nasal mute whenever it is to be pronounced — excepting where it is an assimilated m (213).

c. It is convenient also in transliteration to distinguish the assimilated m by a special sign, ṁ, from the anusvāra of more independent origin, ṅ; and this method will be followed in the present work.