|8th century to the present|
|The Brahmic script and its descendants|
The Assamese script) 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. 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 along the way. By the 17th century three styles of Assamese script could be identified (baminiya, kaitheli and garhgaya) that converged to the standard script following typesetting required for printing. The present standard is identical to the Bengali alphabet except for three letters.
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 Indian 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. A similar script with minor differences is used to write Maithili, Bengali, Meithei and Sylheti.
- 1 History
- 2 Assamese symbols
- 3 Three distinct variations of Assamese script from the Bengali
- 4 Assamese keyboard layout
- 5 Sample texts
- 6 Unicode
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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. In the early part of the 19th century, Atmaram Sarmah designed the first Assamese script for printing in Srerampore, and the Bengali and Assamese lithography converged to the present standard that is used today.
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 ক, kô). When no vowel is written, the vowel 'অ' (ô or o) is often assumed. To specifically denote the absence of a vowel, (্) may be written underneath the consonant.
|Letter||Name of letter||Vowel sign with [kɔ] (ক)||Name of vowel sign||Transliteration||IPA|
|অ or অ'||o||ক (none) or ক'||(none)||ko||ko|
|এ||e||কে||ekar||kê and ke||kɛ and ke|
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 ঘ is itself ঘ 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 ন, ণ, or ঞ (depending on the spelling of the particular word), these letters are not simply called nô; instead, they are called ন dôntiyô nô ("dental n"), ণ mudhôinnô nô ("cerebral n"), and ঞ niô. Similarly, the phoneme /x/ can be written as শ talôibbô xô ("palatal x"), ষ mudhôinnô xô ("cerebral x"), or স dôntiyô xô ("dental x"), the phoneme /s/ can be written using চ prôthôm sô ("first s") or ছ ditiyô sô ("second s"), and the phoneme /z/ can be written using জ bôrgiyô zô ("row z" = "the z included in the five rows of stop consonants") or য ôntôsthô zô ("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.
|Letter||Name of Letter||Transliteration||IPA|
|শ||talôibbô xô||x and s||x~s|
|ষ||murdhônyô xô||x and s||x~s|
|স||dôntyô xô||x and s||x~s|
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||Conjunct letters (Latin interpretation)||[Phoneme clusters (with phonetics)|
|ক + ক||(kô+kô)||ক্ক kkô|
|ঙ + ক||(ṅô+kô)||ঙ্ক ṅkô|
|ল + ক||(lô+kô)||ল্ক lkô|
|স + ক||(xô+kô)||স্ক ṣkô|
|স + ফ||(xô+phô)||স্ফ sphô|
|ঙ + খ||(ṅô+khô)||ঙ্খ ṅkhô|
|স + খ||(xô+khô)||স্খ skhô|
|ঙ + গ||(ṅô+gô)||ঙ্গ ṅgô|
|ঙ + ঘ||(ṅô+ghô)||ঙঘ ṅghô|
|দ + ঘ||(dô+ghô)||দঘ dghô|
|শ + চ||(śo+sô)||শ্চ ścô|
|চ + ছ||(sô+sô)||চ্ছ cchô|
|ঞ + ছ||(ño+sô)||ঞ্ছ ñchô|
|ঞ + জ||(ñô+zô)||ঞ্জ ñjô|
|জ + ঞ||(zô+ñô)||জ্ঞ jñô|
|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)||হ hnô|
|ক + ষ||(kô+xô)||ক্ষ kṣô|
|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||(śô+nô)||শ্ন śnô|
|স + ন||(xô+nô)||স্ন snô|
|হ + ন||(hô+nô)||হ hnô|
|ত + থ||(tô+thô)||ত্থ tthô|
|ন + থ||(nô+thô)||ন্থ nthô|
|ষ + থ||(xô+thô)||ষ্থ ṣthô|
|ন + দ||(nô+dô)||ন্দ ndô|
|ব + দ||(bô+dô)||ব্দ bdô|
|ম + প||(mô+pô)||ম্প mpa|
|ল + প||(lô+pô)||ল্প lpô|
|ষ + প||(xô+pô)||ষ্প ṣpô|
|স + প||(xô+pô)||স্প spô|
|ম + ফ||(mô+phô)||ম্ফ mphô|
|ষ + ফ||(xô+phô)||স্ফ ṣpha|
|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|
Three distinct variations of Assamese script from the Bengali
|Letter||Name of letter||Transliteration||IPA||Bengali|
||rô||r||ɹ||– bôesunnô rô|
||wô||w||w||– (antasthya a)|
Though ক্ষ is used in Bengali, it has a different pronunciation. Cha or chha too has different pronunciation
Assamese keyboard layout
- In-script keyboard layout:
- Phonetic keyboard layout:
- The unique alphabet identifiers:
The keyboard locations of three characters unique to the Assamese script are depicted below:
- ITRANS characterisation:
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Assamese in Assamese alphabet
- ধাৰা ১: সকলো মানুহে স্বাধীনভাৱে সমান মর্যদা আৰু অধিকাৰে জন্মগ্রহণ কৰে। সিহঁতৰ বিবেক আৰু বুদ্ধি আছে আৰু সিহঁতে পৰস্পৰ ভাতৃত্বৰে আচৰণ কৰিব লাগে।
- Dhara ek: Xôkôlû manuhe swadhinbhawe xôman môrzôda aru ôdhikare zônmôgrôhôn kôre. Xihôtôr bibek aru buddhi asse aru xihôte pôrôspôr bhatritwôre asôrôn kôribô lage.
- d̪ʱaɹa ek xɔkɔlʊ manuɦe swad̪ʱinbʱawe xɔman mɔɹzɔd̪a aru ɔd̪ʱikaɹe zɔnmɔɡɹɔhɔn kɔɹe. xihɔtɔɹ bibek aɹu budd̪ʱi asse aɹu xihɔte pɔɹɔspɔɹ bʱat̪ɹit̪t̪wɔɹe asɔɹɔn kɔɹibɔ lage.
- 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.
- 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.
Assamese script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 1991 with the release of version 1.0. It was added as Bengali script.
The Unicode block for Assamese and Bengali is U+0980–U+09FF:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
- Bora, Mahendra (1981). The Evolution of Assamese Script. Jorhat, Assam: Assam Sahitya Sabha.
- Neog, Maheshwar (1980). Early History of the Vaishnava Faith and Movement in Assam. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass.
- "Assamese literature – An overview and historical perspective Linking into broader Indian canvas". Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- "Assamese writing System". Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
- "Antiques reveal script link – Inscriptions on 3 copper plates open new line of research". The Telegraph (Kolkata). 25 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-17.