Summary of the transliteration problem
Abbreviations: BEN=Bengali script, DEV=Devanagari, P-A=Perso-Arabic, -a=above, -b=below, dia=diaeresis, und=underbar
Fig.1. Modified Indic characters in seven schemes, and their proposed transliteration
In DEV and BEN, various schemes have been used to represent Perso-Arabic characters. These schemes involve a various numbers of modified Indic characters (where 'modified' means that a diacritic is added). Current Hindi uses at most the "basic five" modified DEV characters nuqta-ka, -kha, -ga, -ja, -pha, all of which are already allowed for in the draft transliteration standard. More elaborate schemes of modified characters in DEV and BEN are shown in Fig.1, where col.1 shows the original P-A characters and col.9 the proposed transliteration of the Indic characters. References etc. are given in the Appendix.
The suggested transliterations apply to all the Indic characters in a given row (which therefore count as 'equivalent orthography' when, and only when, they represent Perso-Arabic characters).
Fig.2. Proposed general method of transliteration
(Names given here are for convenience of reference only)
In order to represent all Perso-Arabic signs, the older DEV schemes may call for two underdots to appear below DEV aa-maatraa, i, and DEV na-underbar may be used to represent tanwin. These elaborations probably do not need to be covered by the proposed international standard.
Fig.2 simplifies Fig.1 to show its underlying pattern. The first column shows the Perso-Arabic character corresponding to an Indic character used in some particular scheme. The second column enables one to deduce what the transliteration of the associated Indic consonant should be. An Indic consonant being 'unique' means that it is used for only one Perso-Arabic consonant. A transliteration being 'dominant' means that this transliteration is to be used when an Indian character is used for more than one Perso-Arabic character. Only two consonants have been found to be dominant. (We are still only thinking of modified Indic characters, as in Fig.1.)
The procedure for transliterating a set of Indic characters representing Perso-Arabic characters is then:
- Choose a scheme (one of 2 - 8, or another in use).
- All unmodified Indic characters have their usual transliteration.
- Each modified Indic character representing only one Perso-Arabic character is transliterated as shown in Fig.2.
- Any modified Indic character representing more than one Perso-Arabic character is given the dominant transliteration appropriate to those characters (cf. Fig.2).
For reverse transliteration, one uses the Indic characters of the original Perso-Arabic to Indic scheme. In this way a large part of many schemes may be accomodated.
Electronic transmission and storage requiring 7-bit character set
The new Latin characters with diacritics may be included by a scheme such as:
s_und -> _s z_dot-a -> ;z s_dia-b ) ^s ) ~s ) ,s
z_und -> _z z_dot-b -> .z h_dia-b )-> ^h )or ~h )or ,h
z_caron -> ^z t_dia-b ) ^t ) ~t ) ,t
opening inverted comma [before vowel] -> .
Appendix: References, etc. for Fig.1
- Col.1: P-A characters
- Col.2: Islamic Encyclopaedia. Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1997
- S.K. Chatterji, "On the Bengali Language". Calcutta, 1975; "A Grammar of the Bengali Language". Calcutta, 1939; Rupa edn 1988
- Raj Shekhar Basu, "Calantika". MC Sarkar and Sons Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta, 13th edn
- Haricharan Bondyopadhyaya, "Bengali Lexicon". Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1st edn. five vols 1932-51, reprinted 1966
- Abdur Rahim, "Golden Bengali Dictionary". National Publishers, 1971
The only differences between the schemes of J. Das and S.K. Chatterji are:
- J. Das favours an under-dot for the vowels to represent Arabic 'ayin, but Chatterji favours the open single quote before the vowel letters
- J. Das uses under-dot ba to represent the Devanagari va and Perso-Arabic wa while Chatterji uses the Assamese va
- Das uses ga-underdot for Arabic 'ghain and Chatterji uses gha-underdot
- Going beyond Persian and Urdu, Chatterji has also employed four conjunct characters (sb, db, tb, and jb) for Arabic saad, dhaad, toe and zoe, which do not have accurate representation in J.Das's scheme.
- Col.4 Siraj Rabbani, Lexicon of Rabbani. Rabbani Publications, Calcutta, 1952
- Col.5: Jnanendramohan Das, A Dictionary of the Bengali Language Calcutta, 1st edn. 1916; 2nd edn. 1937
- Col.6: Md. Alauddin al-Azhari, Arabic-Bengali Dictionary. Central Bengali-language Development Board, Dhaka, 1970; reprinted, Bangla Academy, Dhaka, 1976
- Col.7: John Borthwick Gilchrist, The Hindee-Roman Orthoepigraphical Ultimatum . . . exemplified in the popular story of Sakoontula Natuk. Calcutta, 1804; Hindoostanee Philology: .... Reprint of 1810 edn, London, 1825
(The DEV character nuqta-jha is found in the chart Parivardhita Devanaagarii. Central Hindi Directorate, Govt of India, 1967)
- J.T. Platts, A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi, and English. London, 1884
- Duncan Forbes, A Dictionary, Hindustani and English. London, 1858, reprinted 1866
- John Shakespear, A Dictionary, Hindustani and English, and English and Hindustani. 4th edn, London, 1849
- Col.9: proposed transliteration of the Indic characters | Back
I gratefully acknowledge the help kindly given me by various correspondents, including Abu Jar M. Akkas who told me about cols. 2 - 6 of Fig.1.
Copyright (C) Anthony P. Stone 1999. This material may be freely used, provided the author is acknowledged. | There is also a
more extended account | Up to Transliteration top page
dated: Dec 3, 1999