ODISSI-ORISSI DANCE

Odissi or Orissi?

Photo  1998, David J. CapersEither Orissi or Odissi may be considered acceptable in writing. While close however, both would be technically inaccurate in the traditional pronounciation of the word. The confusion over how to spell Orissi, in English, is due to the fact, Indian languages possess some entirely different sounds in their alphabets than does English. The Indian tongue is more agile than that of the English speaker. In Oriya script, the second letter of Odissi has an 'rd' sound, with a rolled 'r' similar to Spanish. However unlike Spanish, there is only one rollof the tongue followed immediately by the soft 'd' sound. The 'r' and'd' are said almost simultaneously creating a new (for Euro-Americans) combined sound. Perhaps, to satisfy purists, the most correct (Romanized) spelling of this Indian dance form would be,

O(rd)issi

but, that is awkward and unwieldy. For decades both spellings have been used in literature on Orissi, but in spoken language a pronunciation with no 'r,' and a hard 'D' has come into vogue, possibly due to Westerner's inability to pronounce it correctly? This bow to the West raises some interesting questions? How far should other cultures prostrate themselves in order to curry favour with the West? And, at what point does the culture of those thus prostrated become subsumed by culture of the West? The 'D' pronunciation has a harsh unaesthetic sound, and 'Orissi' more accurately represents the musical sound of the word as said from time immemorial, however both spellings are used interchangeably on this site. (David)

...return to Orissi at Evergreen?