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Skt transcription into ASCII

From: R. Skrintha (
Date: Wed Sep 24 1997 - 13:10:17 PDT

Dear Sri Sundararajan,

[in re yr query about a transcription system for devanAgari]

  If it pleases, here is a system for DevanAgari transcription into ASCII 
that i use (in my postings to certain linguistic mailing lists). The main 
design goal has been to:

(1) to use only ASCII characters
(2) be smooth & pleasing to the eye
(3) the sounds of the transcription-scheme must be close to their English 
    sound value

 The system is:

(1) vowels/semi-vowels:

a   A/aa   i   I/ii   u   U/uu   e   o   R   RR   L  LL  

M  (halantam)    H/:  (visarga)

(2) diphthongs

ai/y    au/w

(3)  Stops and nasals:  (V = voiced/voiceless; A = aspirated/unaspirated)
           V-,A-   V-,A+   V+,A-    V+,A+    Nasal          
velar:       k       kh     g        gh       n

palatal:     c       ch     j        jh       n

retroflex:   T       Th     D        Dh       N

dental:      t       th     d        th       n

bilabial:    p       ph     b        bh       m

Please nota:  the velar (ng), palatal (nj) and the dental (nt) nasals 
have been collapsed to the same letter {n}. This is because the former 
two occur only in specific & exclusive environments.

The velar nasal ("ng") occurs only in the immediate vicinity of a velar 
stop (k,kh,g,gh: also the affricate "ksh", which basically is fronted by 
a velar sound) & the only "n" to occur in the vicinity of a velar stop is 
the velar nasal (excepting halantam). Thus, there is no ambiguity in 
mapping it to the letter {n}.

Likewise, the palatal nasal ("nj") occurs only in the vicinity of a 
palatal stop (eg., -jn-; -nc-); and the only nasal occuring in the 
vicinity of a palatal stop is the palatal nasal. Thus, there is no 
ambiguity in mapping it to the letter {n}.

On all other occasions, ie., on occasions when the sound transcribed as 
{n} does not occur in the vicinity of a palatal or velar consonant, it is 
taken to be a dental nasal.

In principle, the velar & palatal nasal cd be mapped to {n^} & {n~}, 
respectively, but i feel that adding diacritical marks may be a bit 
jarring to the eye!

(4)           Liquids, continuants and affricates

     y       r      l      v      C      S      s





Sample words:

CrI/Crii    (ie., Sri/Shree)


laxmI/laxmii  (ie., Lakshmi)











Cankara (ie., Sankar, Shankar)






Please let me know if u wd like me to clarify some point further!

Hari Om