||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Eastern Nagari script. (Discuss) Proposed since February 2013.|
|c. 15th–mid 20th century|
|ISO 15924||Tirh, 326
Tirhuta (तिरहुता / তিরহুতা) or Mithilakshar (मिथिलाक्षर / মিথিলাক্ষর) is the script used for the Maithili language. The script has a rich history spanning a thousand years, but years of neglect by the Bihar government have taken their toll on the use of Tirhuta from Maithili language. Most speakers of Maithili language have switched to using the Devanagari script, which is also used to write neighboring Central Indic languages to the west such as Hindi. As a result, the number of people with a working knowledge of Tirhuta has dropped considerably in recent years.
The variance of Tirhuta script used in West Bengal and Bangladesh is commonly called Bengali alphabet. In fact, many letters of Bengali alphabet (e.g. ক /k/, খ /kʰ/, দ /d̪/, জ /dʒ/) are written the same in both Tirhuta and Bengali. Nevertheless, there are sufficient differences between the two scripts to somewhat impede mutual comprehension. For example, the letter representing the sound /r/ in Tirhuta has the same form as the Bengali letter ব /b/, and the Bengali letter র /r/ has the same shape as the Tirhuta letter /w/. Furthermore, many of the conjunct letters and vowel signs mean different things in the two scripts. For example, the conjunct ত্ত represents a geminate voiceless unaspirated dental stop /t̪/ in Bengali script, but it represents the syllable /t̪u/ in Mithilakshar.
History and current status
The oldest specimen of Tirhuta is a Janaki Mandir at Nepal. It is a place where Hindi language originated. Despite the near universal switch from Tirhuta to the Devanagari script for writing Maithili, some traditional pundits still use the script for sending one another ceremonial letters (pātā) related to some important function such as marriage. Fonts for this script were developed in 2003. An effort is underway to preserve Tirhuta and develop it for use in digital media by encoding the script in the Unicode standard, for which proposals have been submitted (now the ISO, the Unicode Technical Committee has approved the application for encoding of Tirhuta as Unicode).
The 2003 inclusion of Maithili in the VIIIth Schedule of the Indian Constitution having accorded official recognition to it as a language independent of Hindi, there is a possibility that this might lead to efforts to reimplement Tirhuta on a wider basis, in accord with similar trends in India reinforcing separate identities.
The first two images shown below are samples illustrating the history of Tirhuta. The first is the sacred sign of Ganesha, called āñjī, used for millennia by students before beginning Tirhuta studies. Displayed further below are images of tables comparing the Tirhuta and Devanagari scripts.
- Pandey, Anshuman. 2006. "Request to Allocate the Maithili Script in the Unicode Roadmap"
- Pandey, Anshuman. 2009. "Towards an Encoding for the Maithili Script in ISO/IEC 10646"
- Pandey, Anshuman. 2011. "Proposal to Encode the Tirhuta Script in ISO/IEC 10646"
- Maithili Font Maithili Software
- Tirhuta Lipi: Native Script of Maithili
- Mithila Online
- Learn Mithilakshara by Gajendra Thakur
- Learn Mithilakshar by bataahmaithil.in