ISO 15919 Transliteration of Devanagari and related Indic scripts into Latin characters is an international standard for the transliteration of Indic scripts to the Latin script formed in 2001. It uses diacritics to map the much larger set of Brahmic consonants and vowels to the Latin script.
ISO 15919 and other systems
ISO 15919 is an international standard on the romanization of many Indic scripts, which was agreed upon in 2001 by a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries. However, the Hunterian transliteration system is the "national system of romanization in India" and a United Nations expert group noted about ISO 15919 that "there is no evidence of the use of the system either in India or in international cartographic products."
Another standard, United Nations Romanization Systems for Geographical Names (UNRSGN), was developed by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) and covers many Indic scripts.
ALA-LC was approved by the Library of Congress and the American Library Association and is a US standard. IAST is not a standard (as no specification exists for it) but a convention developed in Europe for the transliteration of Sanskrit rather than the transcription of Indic scripts.
As a notable difference, both international standards, ISO 15919 and UNRSGN transliterate anusvara as ṁ, while ALA-LC and IAST use ṃ for it. However, ISO 15919 provides guidance towards disambiguating between various anusvara situations (such as labial versus dental nasalizations), which is described in the table below.
Fonts supporting Unicode characters
Only certain fonts can support all Indic ISO 15919 Unicode character sets. For example, Tahoma supports most Unicode characters needed for Indic language transliteration. Arial and Times New Roman font packages that come with Microsoft Office 2007 (but not with MS Office 2003 or earlier) also support most "Latin extended additional" ISO 15919 Unicode characters like ḑ, ḥ, ḷ, ḻ, ṁ, ṅ, ṇ, ṛ, ṣ, ṭ, etc.
Comparison with UNRSGN and IAST
The table below shows the differences between ISO 15919, UNRSGN and IAST for Devanagari transliteration.
|ए / े||ē||e||e||To distinguish between long and short 'e' in Dravidian languages, 'e' now represents ऎ / ॆ (short). Note that the use of ē is considered optional in ISO 15919, and using e for ए (long) is acceptable for languages that do not distinguish long and short e.|
|ओ / ो||ō||o||o||To distinguish between long and short 'o' in Dravidian languages, 'o' now represents ऒ / ॊ (short). Note that the use of ō is considered optional in ISO 15919, and using o for ओ (long) is acceptable for languages that do not distinguish long and short o.|
|ऋ / ृ||r̥||ṛ||ṛ||In ISO 15919, ṛ is used to represent ड़.|
|ॠ / ॄ||r̥̄||ṝ||ṝ||For consistency with r̥|
|ऌ / ॢ||l̥||l̤||ḷ||In ISO 15919, ḷ is used to represent ळ.|
|ॡ / ॣ||l̥̄||l̤̄||ḹ||For consistency with l̥|
|◌ं||ṁ||ṁ||ṃ||ISO 15919 has two options about anusvāra. (1) In the simplified nasalization option, an anusvāra is always transliterated as ṁ. (2) In the strict nasalization option, anusvāra before a class consonant is transliterated as the class nasal—ṅ before k, kh, g, gh, ṅ; ñ before c, ch, j, jh, ñ; ṇ before ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ; n before t, th, d, dh, n; m before p, ph, b, bh, m. ṃ is sometimes used to specifically represent Gurmukhi Tippi ੰ.|
|ṅ ñ ṇ n m|
|◌ँ||m̐||m̐||Vowel nasalization is transliterated as a tilde above the transliterated vowel (over the second vowel in the case of a digraph such as aĩ, aũ), except in Sanskrit.|
- List of ISO transliterations
- Hunterian transliteration
- National Library at Kolkata romanization
- International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST)
- United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Technical reference manual for the standardization of geographical names, United Nations Publications, 2007, ISBN 978-92-1-161500-5, "... ISO 15919 ... There is no evidence of the use of the system either in India or in international cartographic products ... The Hunterian system is the actually used national system of romanization in India ..."
- United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Far East, Volume 2, United Nations, 1955, "... In India the Hunterian system is used, whereby every sound in the local language is uniformly represented by a certain letter in the Roman alphabet ..."
- National Library (India), Indian scientific & technical publications, exhibition 1960: a bibliography, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India, 1960, "... The Hunterian system of transliteration, which has international acceptance, has been used ..."
- United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names
- ISO 15919:2001
- Transliteration of Indic scripts: how to use ISO 15919
- Unicode.org CLDR chart of Latin-Indic transliteration
- Aksharamukha Asian Script Converter Transliterates between about 20 Asian scripts and several romanization standards including ISO 15919
- Any indic language to another indic language Transliteration - SILPA project
- Indian Languages Transliteration - Basic Transliteration for users and programmers.
- Transliteration standard for Hindi, Marathi & Nepali
- iso15919.py - An implementation of the Devanāgarī part of ISO 15919 in Python
- Devanagari, Sinhala, Tamil and ISO 15919 transliteration service.[dead link]
- Devanāgarī to ISO 15919 (IAST) converter[dead link] Online tool for converting Devanagari to IAST
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