|Time period||c. 1060–present|
|ISO 15924||Orya, 327|
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.
|The Brahmic script and its descendants|
The Oriya script is developed from the Kalinga script, one of the many descendants of the Brahmi script of ancient India. The earliest known inscription in the Oriya language, in the Kalinga script, dates from 1051. Oriya language has undergone through several phases. They are broadly:
- Transitional Oriya
- Proto Oriya
- Gupta scripts
The script in the Ashokan edicts at Dhauli and Jaugada and the inscriptions of Kharavela in Hati Gumpha of Khandagiri give the first glimpse of possible origin of the Oriya language. From a linguistic perspective, the Hati Gumpha inscriptions are similar to modern Oriya and essentially different from the language of the Ashokan edicts. The question has also been raised as to whether Pali was the prevalent language in Odisha during this period. The Hati Gumpha inscriptions, which are in Pali, are perhaps the only evidence of stone inscriptions in Pali. This may be the reason why the famous German linguist Professor Oldenburg mentioned that Pali was the original language of Odisha.
There are noticeable similarities between Oriya and Thai scripts, which provides clues about the Sadhavas, earlier Kalinga traders who traveled to south Asian countries and ruled there, leaving evidence of the Oriya script on the Thai script, along with a cultural impact.
The curved appearance of the Oriya script is a result of the practice of writing on palm leaves, which has a tendency to tear the leaves when many straight lines are written.
Oriya is a syllabic alphabet or an abugida wherein all consonants have an inherent vowel embedded within. Diacritics (which can appear above, below, before, or after the consonant they belong to) are used to change the form of the inherent vowel. When vowels appear at the beginning of a syllable, they are written as independent letters. Also, when certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols are used to combine the essential parts of each consonant symbol.
"Oṛiyā is encumbered with the drawback of an excessively awkward and cumbrous written character. ... At first glance, an Oṛiyā book seems to be all curves, and it takes a second look to notice that there is something inside each." (G.A. Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, 1903)
Oriya alphabet 
Independent vowels 
The vowels "ଇ" ("i"), "ଈ" ("ī"), "ଉ" ("u") and "ଊ" ("ū") are pronounced same as most long sounds are pronounced in the same way as short vowel sounds.
The consonants j and y are pronounced the same in Oriya. Initial ḍa, ḍha vary with intervocalic ṛa, ṛha.
Dependent vowels 
For the other vowels diacritics are used:
(Note: In many Oriya fonts the vowels e, ai, o, au do not display properly; these are given work-arounds in parentheses below.)
Vowel diacritics may be more or less fused with the consonants, though in modern printing such ligatures have become less common.
Consonant ligatures 
Clusters of two or more consonants form a ligature. Basically Oriya has two types of such consonant ligatures. The "northern" type is formed by fusion of two ore more consonants as in northern scripts like Devanāgarī (but to a lesser extent also in the Malayalam script in the south). In some instances the components can be easily identified, but sometimes completely new glyphs are formed. With the "southern" type the second component is reduced in size and put under the first as in the southern scripts used for Kannaḍa and Telugu (and to some extent also for Malayalam script). The following table shows the most commonly used ligatures. (Different fonts may use different ligatures.)
Special forms 
The Oriya alphabet exhibits quite a few ambiguities which add to the difficulties beginners encounter in learning it.
Some of the letters of the script may easily be confounded. In order to reduce ambiguities a small oblique stroke is added at the lower right end as a diacritic. It resembles Halanta (Virāma) but it is joined to the letter, whereas Halanta is not joined. When the consonant forms a vowel ligature by which the lower right end is affected, this stroke is shifted to another position. This applies also to consonant ligatures baring the stroke (see table of consonant ligatures).
Some of the subjoined consonants, some other ligature components and variants of vowel diacritics have changing functions:
Open top consonants get a subjoined variant of the vowel diacritic for ⟨i⟩ as in
This same little hook is used in some consonant ligatures to denote ⟨t⟩ as first component:
The subjoined form of ⟨ch⟩ is also used for subjoined ⟨th⟩:
The subjoined form of ⟨bh⟩ serves also as a diacritic for different purposes:
The subjoined forms of ⟨ṇ⟩ and ⟨tu⟩ are almost identical:
Comparison of Oṛiyā script with its neighbours 
At a first look the great number of signs with round shapes suggests a closer relation to the southern neighbour Telugu than to the other neighbours Bengali in the north and Devanāgarī in the west. The reason for the round shapes in Oriya and Telugu (and also in Kannaḍa and Malayāḷam) is the former method of writing using a stylus to scrutch the signs into a palm leaf. These tools do not allow for horizontal strokes because that would damage the leaf.
Oriya letters are mostly round shaped whereas in Devanāgarī and Bengali have horizontal lines. So in most cases the reader of Oṛiyā will find the distinctive parts of a letter only below the hoop. Considering this the following tables clearly show a closer relation to Devanāgarī and Bengali than to any southern script, though both northern and southern scripts have the same origin, Brāhmī.
Vowel signs 
Consonant signs 
Vowel diacritics 
The treatment of ⟨e⟩ ⟨ai⟩ ⟨o⟩ ⟨au⟩ is similar to Bengali, Malayāḷam, Sinhalese, Tamiḻ, Grantha and also to SE Asian scripts like Burmese, Khmer and Thai, but it differs clearly from Devanāgarī, Gujarātī, Gurmukhī, Kannaḍa, Telugu and Tibetan.
Oriya script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 1991 with the release of version 1.0.
The Unicode block for Oriya is U+0B00–U+0B7F. Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points.
Unicode.org chart (PDF)
- Oriya Lipi, Satya N. Rajaguru, Orissa Sahitya Academy, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Page 1-58
- Les Langues écrites Du Monde: Relevé Du Degré Et Des Modes D'utilisation. Presses Université Laval. 1978. pp. 389–. ISBN 978-2-7637-7186-1. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- "Orissareview, Page 66-67" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- [dead link]
- "Oriya alphabet, pronunciation and language". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- odia.org, Resources of education and cultural Oriya books
- The Unicode Book: Chapter 9 - South and Southeast Asian Scripts (PDF)
- Oriya alphabet - From Omniglot
- Oriya Unicode Fonts WAZU JAPAN's Unicode font pages
- Project Rebati - An open-source initiative for computing in Oriya
- Odia Sahitya - An initiative to spread Oriya literature