Assamese alphabet

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Assamese alphabet
Ôxômiya lipi
অসমীয়া লিপি
Oxomiya Lipi.svg
Type
Languages Assamese
Time period
8th century to the present
Parent systems
[a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.

The Assamese script[1] is a writing system of the Assamese language. It used to be the script of choice in the Brahmaputra valley for Sanskrit as well as other languages such as Bodo (now Devanagari), Khasi (now Roman), Mising (now Roman) etc. It evolved from Kamarupi script. The current form of the script has seen continuous development from the 5th-century Umachal/Nagajari-Khanikargaon rock inscriptions written in an eastern variety of the Gupta script, adopting significant traits from the Siddhaṃ script in the 7th century. By the 17th century three styles of Assamese script could be identified (baminiya, kaitheli and garhgaya)[2] that converged to the standard script following typesetting required for printing. The present standard is identical to the Bengali alphabet except for two letters, র (ro)and ব(vo).

The Buranjis were written during the Ahom dynasty in the Assamese language using the Assamese alphabet. In the 14th century Madhava Kandali used Assamese script to compose the famous Saptakanda Ramayana, which is the first translation of Ramayana in a regional language after Valmiki's Ramayana in Sanskrit. Later, Sankardev used it in the 15th and 16th centuries to compose his oeuvre in Assamese and Brajavali dialect, the literary language of the bhakti poems (borgeets) and dramas.

The Ahom king Supangmung (1663–1670) was the first ruler who started issuing Assamese coins for his kingdom. Some similar scripts with minor differences are used to write Maithili, Bengali, Meithei and Sylheti.

History[edit]

Kanai-boroxiboa rock inscription, 1207 CE, shows proto-Assamese script

The Umachal rock inscription of the 5th century evidences the first use of a script in the region. The script was very similar to the one used in Samudragupta's Allahabad Pillar inscription. Rock and copper plate inscriptions from then onwards, and Xaansi bark manuscripts right up to the 18th–19th centuries show a steady development of the Assamese script. The script could be said to develop proto-Assamese shapes by the 13th century. In the 18th and 19th century, the Assamese script could be divided into three varieties: Kaitheli (also called Lakhari in Kamrup region, used by non-Brahmins), Bamuniya (used by Brahmins, for Sanskrit) and Garhgaya (used by state officials of the Ahom kingdom)—among which the Kaitheli style was the most popular, with medieval books (like the Hastir-vidyrnava) and sattras using this style.[3] In the early part of the 19th century, Atmaram Sarmah designed the first Assamese script for printing in Serampore, and the Bengali and Assamese lithography converged to the present standard that is used today.

Assamese symbols[edit]

Vowels[edit]

The script presently has a total of 11 vowel letters, used to represent the eight main vowel sounds of Assamese, along with a number of vowel diphthongs. All of these are used in both Assamese and Bengali, the two main languages using the script. Some of the vowel letters have different sounds depending on the word, and a number of vowel distinctions preserved in the writing system are not pronounced as such in modern spoken Assamese or Bengali. For example, the Assamese script has two symbols for the vowel sound [i] and two symbols for the vowel sound [u]. This redundancy stems from the time when this script was used to write Sanskrit, a language that had a short [i] and a long [iː], and a short [u] and a long [uː]. These letters are preserved in the Assamese script with their traditional names of hôrswô i (lit. 'short i') and dirghô i (lit. 'long i'), etc., despite the fact that they are no longer pronounced differently in ordinary speech.

Vowel signs can be used in conjunction with consonants to modify the pronunciation of the consonant (here exemplified by , kô). When no vowel is written, the vowel (ô or o) is often assumed. To specifically denote the absence of a vowel, () may be written underneath the consonant.

Vowels
Letter Name of letter Vowel sign with [kɔ] () Name of vowel sign Transliteration IPA
o (none) (none) ko
or অ' ó (none) or ক' (none) ko
a কা akar ka ka
hroswo i কি hôrswôikar ki ki
dirgho i কী dirghoikar ki ki
hroswo u কু hroswoukar ku ku
dirgho u কূ dirghoukar ku ku
ri কৃ rikar kri kri
e কে ekar kê and ke and ke
oi কৈ ôikar koi kɔɪ
ü কো ükar
ou কৌ oukar kou kɔʊ

Consonants[edit]

The text says: "Sri Sri Môt Xiwô Xinghô Môharaza". The "" is used as "" in this 18th-century manuscript, just as in modern Mithilakshar.

The names of the consonant letters in Assamese are typically just the consonant's main pronunciation plus the inherent vowel ô. Since the inherent vowel is assumed and not written, most letters' names look identical to the letter itself (e.g. the name of the letter is itself ghô). Some letters that have lost their distinctive pronunciation in Modern Assamese are called by a more elaborate name. For example, since the consonant phoneme /n/ can be written , , or (depending on the spelling of the particular word), these letters are not simply called no; instead, they are called dontiya no ("dental n"), murdhoinno no ("retroflex n"), and nio. Similarly, the phoneme /x/ can be written as taloibbo xo ("palatal x"), murdhoinno xo ("retroflex x"), or dontia xo ("dental x"), the phoneme /s/ can be written using prothom sô ("first s") or ditio so ("second s"), and the phoneme /z/ can be written using borgia zo ("row z" = "the z included in the five rows of stop consonants") or ontostho zo ("z situated between" = "the z that comes between the five rows of stop consonants and the row of sibilants"), depending on the standard spelling of the particular word.

Consonants
Letter Name of Letter Transliteration IPA
ko k k
kho kh
go g ɡ
gho gh ɡʱ
uŋo ng ŋ
prothom so s s
ditio so s s
borgiya zo z z
zho zh z
nio y ̃, n
murdhoinno to t t
murdhoinno tho th
murdhoinno do d d
murdhoinno dho dh
murdhoinnya no n n
dontia to t t
dontia tho th
dontia do d d
dontia dho dh
dontia no n n
po p p
pho ph and f ~ɸ
bo b b
bho bh and vh ~β
mo m m
ontostho zo z z
ro r ɹ
lo l l
wo w w~β
taloibbo xo x and s x~s
murdhoinno xo x and s x~s
dontia xo x and s x~s
ho h ɦ~h
ক্ষ khyo khy, kkh kʰj
ড় dore ro r ɹ
ঢ় dhore ro rh ɹɦ
য় ontostho yô y j

Consonant clusters[edit]

A few of Asamiya Consonant Conjuncts.
Asamiya vowel diacritics.

Assamese or Asamiya consonant clusters include thirty three pure consonant letters in Assamese alphabet and each letter represents a single sound with an inherent vowel, the short vowel /a /.

The first twenty-five consonants letters are called ‘sporxo borno’. These ‘sporxo bornos’ are again divided into five ‘borgos’. Therefore, these twenty-five letters are also called ‘borgio borno’.

The Assamese consonants are typically just the consonant's main pronunciation plus the inherent vowel o. The inherent vowel is assumed and not written, thus, names of most letters look identical to the letter itself (e.g. the name of the letter ঘ is itself ঘ gho).

Some letters have lost their distinctive pronunciation in modern Assamese are called by a more elaborate name. For example, since the consonant phoneme /n/ can be written ন, ণ, or ঞ (depending on the spelling of the particular word), these letters are not simply called no; instead, they are called ন dointo no ("dental n"), ণ murdhoinno no ("cerebral n"), and ঞ nio.

Similarly, the phoneme /x/ can be written as শ taloibbo xo ("palatal x"), ষ murdh9inno xo ("cerebral x"), or স dointo xo ("dental x"), the phoneme/s/ can be written using চ prothom so ("first s") or ছ ditio so ("second s"), and the phoneme /z/ can be written using জ borgio zo ("row z" = "the z included in the five rows of stop consonants") or য ontostho zo ("z situated between" = "the z that comes between the five rows of stop consonants and the row of sibilants"), depending on the standard spelling of the particular word.

The consonant clusters can be arranged in following groups:

Group: 1 - Gutturals

Consonants Phonetics
khô
ghô
ṅgô

Group: 2 - Palatals

Consonants Phonetics
prôthôm sô
ditiyô sô
bôrgiya ja
jhô
ñiô

Group: 3 - Cerebrals

Consonants Phonetics
murdhôinnya ṭa
murdhôinnya ṭha
murdhôinnya ḍa
ড় daré ṛa
murdhôinnya ḍha
ঢ় dharé ṛha
murdhôinnya ṇa

Group: 4 - Dentals

Consonants Phonetics
dôntiya ta
khanda ṯ
dôntiya tha
dôntiya da
dôntiya dha
dôntiya na

Group: 5 - Labials

Consonants Phonetics
pa
pha
ba
bha
ma

Group: 6 - Semi-vowels

Consonants Phonetics
ôntôsthô zô
য় ôntôsthô ẏô
ra
la
wa

Group: 7 - Sibilants

Consonants Phonetics
talôibbya xô
mudhôinnya xô
dôntiya xô

Group: 8 - Aspirate

Consonants Phonetics
ha
ক্ষ khyô

Group: 9 - Anuxāra

Consonants Phonetics
ṃ anuxar

Group: 9 - Bixarga

Consonants Phonetics
ḥ bixarga

Group: 10 - Candrabindu (anunāsika)

Consonants Phonetics
n̐, m̐ candrabindu
  • The letters (talôibbya xô), (murdhôinnya xô), (dôntiya xô) and (hô) are called “usma barna
  • The letters (za), ৰ (ra), ল (la) and (wa) are called “ôntôsthô barna
  • The letters ড় (daré ṛa) and ঢ় (dharé ṛha) are phonetically similar to /ra /
  • The letter (ôntôsthô zô) is articulated like “'ôntôsthô yô'” in the word medial and final position. To denote the “ ôntôsthô ẏô” the letter য় (ôntôsthô ẏô) is used in Assamese
  • (khanda ṯ) means the consonant letter Tö (dôntiya ta) without the inherent vowel

Halant[edit]

To write a consonant without the inherent vowel the halant sign is used below the base glyph. In Assamese this sign is called ‘haxanta’. (্)

Consonant Conjuncts[edit]

In Assamese, the combination of three consonants is possible without their intervening vowels. There are about 122 conjunct letters. A few conjunct letters are given below:

Anuxôr[edit]

Anuxôr ( ং ) indicates a nasal consonant sound (velar). When an anuxar comes before a consonant belonging to any of the 5 bargas, it represents the nasal consonant belonging to that barga.

Candrabindu[edit]

Chandrabindu ( ঁ ) denotes nasalization of the vowel that is attached to it .

Bixargô[edit]

Bixargô ( ঃ ) represents a sound similar to /h /.

Consonant clusters according to Goswami[edit]

According to Dr. G. C. Goswami the number of two-phoneme clusters is 143 symbolised by 174 conjunct letters. Three phoneme clusters are 21 in number, which are written by 27 conjunct clusters. A few of them are given hereafter as examples:

Conjunct letters Transliteration [Phoneme clusters (with phonetics)
ক + ক (kô + kô) ক্ক kkô
ঙ + ক (ŋô + kô) ঙ্ক ŋkô
ল + ক (lô + kô) ল্ক lkô
স + ক (xô + kô) স্ক skô
স + ফ (xô + phô) স্ফ sphô
ঙ + খ (ŋô + khô) ঙ্খ ŋkhô
স + খ (xô + khô) স্খ skhô
ঙ + গ (ŋô + gô) ঙ্গ ŋgô
ঙ + ঘ (ŋô + ghô) ঙ্ঘ ŋghô
দ + ঘ (dô + ghô) দ্ঘ dghô
শ + চ (xô + sô) শ্চ ssô
চ + ছ (sô + shô) চ্ছ sshô
ঞ + ছ (ñô + shô) ঞ্ছ ñshô
ঞ + জ (ñô + zô) ঞ্জ ñzô
জ + ঞ (zô + ñô) জ্ঞ zñô
ল + ট (lô + ṭô) ল্ট lṭô
ণ + ঠ (ṇô + ṭhô) ণ্ঠ ṇṭhô
ষ + ঠ (xô + ṭhô) ষ্ঠ ṣṭhô
ণ + ড (ṇô + ḍô) ণ্ড ṇḍô
ষ + ণ (xô + ṇô) ষ্ণ ṣṇô
হ + ন (hô + nô) hnô
ক + ষ (kô + xô) ক্ষ ksô
প + ত (pô + tô) প্ত ptô
স + ত (xô + tô) স্ত stô
ক + ত (kô + tô) ক্ত ktô
গ + ন (gô + nô) গ্ন gnô
ম + ন (mô + nô) ম্ন mnô
শ + ন (xô + nô) শ্ন snô
স + ন (xô + nô) স্ন snô
হ + ন (hô + nô) হ্ন hnô
ত + থ (tô + thô) ত্থ tthô
ন + থ (nô + thô) ন্থ nthô
ষ + থ (xô + thô) ষ্থ sthô
ন + দ (nô + dô) ন্দ ndô
ব + দ (bô + dô) ব্দ bdô
ম + প (mô + pô) ম্প mpô
ল + প (lô + pô) ল্প lpô
ষ + প (xô + pô) ষ্প spô
স + প (xô + pô) স্প spô
ম + ফ (mô + phô) ম্ফ mphô
ষ + ফ (xô + phô) স্ফ sphô
দ + ব (dô + bô) দ্ব dbô
ম + ব (mô + bô) ম্ব mbô
হ + ব (hô + bô) হ্ব hbô
দ + ভ (dô + bhô) দ্ভ dbhô
ম + ভ (mô + bhô) ম্ভ mbhô
ক + ম (kô + mô) ক্ম kmô
দ + ম (dô + mô) দ্ম dmô
হ + ম (hô + mô) হ্ম hmô
ম + ম (mô + mô) ম্ম mmô

Digits[edit]

Digits
Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Assamese numerals ১০
Assamese names xuinno ek dui tini sari pas soy xat ath no (noy) doh
শূণ্য এক দুই তিনি চাৰি পাচ ছয় সাত আঠ ন (নয়) দহ

Three distinct variations of Assamese script from the Bengali[edit]

Assamese unique characters
Letter Name of letter Transliteration IPA Bengali
r ɹ – bôesunnô rô
w w – (antasthya a)
ক্ষ khyô khy kʰj – juktokkhyô

Though ক্ষ is used in Bengali as a conjunct letter. Cha or Chha too has different pronunciation

Assamese keyboard layout[edit]

  • Inscript keyboard layout:

Assamese keyboard layout (Inscript)

  • Phonetic keyboard layout:

1000pxAssamese phonetic keyboard layout

  • The unique letter identifiers:

The keyboard locations of three characters unique to the Assamese script are depicted below:

750pxThe 3 characters identifiers

  • ITRANS characterisation:

The "Indian languages TRANSliteration" (ITRANS) the ASCII transliteration scheme for Indic scripts here, Assamese; the characterisations are given below:

Keyboard sequence Character
k ক্
kh খ্
g গ্
gh ঘ্
~N ঙ্
N^ ঙ্
ch চ্
Ch ছ্
chh ছ্
j জ্
jh ঝ্
~n ঞ্
JN ঞ্
T ট্

Lang|as

Th ঠ্
D ড্
Dh ঢ্
N ণ্
t ত্
th থ্
d দ্
Keyboard sequence Character
dh ধ্
n ন্
p প্
ph ফ্
b ব্
bh ভ্
m ম্
y য্
r ৰ্
l ল্
v ৱ্
w ৱ্
sh শ্
Sh ষ্
shh ষ্
s স্
h হ্
.D ড়্
.Dh ঢ়্
Y য়্
yh য়্
Keyboard sequence Character
GY জ্ঞ্
dny জ্ঞ্
x ক্ষ্
a
aa
A
i
ii
I
u
uu
U
RRi
R^i
LLi
Keyboard sequence Character
L^i
e
ai
o
au
RRI
R^I
LLI
L^I
.N
.n
M
H
.h
Keyboard sequence Character
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
# ্ৰ
$ ৰ্
^ ত্ৰ
* শ্ৰ

Sample texts[edit]

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[edit]

Assamese in Assamese alphabet
ধাৰা ১: সকলো মানুহে স্বাধীনভাৱে সমান মর্যদা আৰু অধিকাৰে জন্মগ্রহণ কৰে। সিহঁতৰ বিবেক আৰু বুদ্ধি আছে আৰু সিহঁতে পৰস্পৰ ভ্ৰাতৃত্বৰে আচৰণ কৰিব লাগে।
Assamese in phonetic romanization
Dhara ek: Xôkôlû manuhê sadhinbhawê xôman môrzôda aru ôdhikarê zônmôgrôhôn kôrê. Xihôtôr bibêk aru buddhi ase aru xihôte pôrôspôr bhratrittôrê asôrôn kôribô lagê.
Assamese in IPA
/dʱaɹa ek | xɔkɔlʊ manuɦɛ sadʱinbʱaβɛ xɔman mɔɹzɔda aɹu ɔdʱikaɹɛ zɔnmɔɡɹɔɦɔn kɔɹɛ ‖ xiɦɔtɔɹ bibɛk aɹu budːʱi asɛ aɹu xihɔtɛ pɔɹɔspɔɹ bʱɹatɹitːɔɹɛ asɔɹɔn kɔɹibɔ laɡɛ/
Gloss
Clause 1: All human free-manner-in equal dignity and with-right birth-take do. Their reason and intelligence exist and they each-other with-brotherhood behave will-do should.
Translation
Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Unicode[edit]

The Bengali–Assamese script was added to the Unicode Standard in October 1991 with the release of version 1.0.

The Unicode block for Assamese and Bengali is U+0980–U+09FF:

Bengali[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+098x
U+099x
U+09Ax
U+09Bx ি
U+09Cx
U+09Dx
U+09Ex
U+09Fx
Notes
1.^ As of Unicode version 11.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The name ăcãmăkṣara first appears in Ahom coins and copperplates where the name denoted the Ahom script (Bora 1981:11–12)
  2. ^ (Bora 1981:53)
  3. ^ (Neog 1980, p. 308)

References[edit]

External links[edit]