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Qalam-2005-03-11 | ... in the spirit of service


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From: "Don Osborn" <dzo@xxxxxx>
To: qalam @ yahoogroups . com
Subject: Marathi Devanagari / Marathi Latin
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 06:45:23 -0000

FYI (fwd from the Linguist list)... DZO

Date: 10-Mar-2005
From: Madhukar N. Gogate <mngogate @ vsnl . com>
Subject: Writing Systems: Marathi Roman Script

Madhukar N Gogate (Pune, India), Moderator, initiated a discussion considering use of Roman script and Devanagari script for the Marathi language. The discussion ran from 1 Feb 2005 to 28 Feb 2005, and can be viewed at the URL below, see M11-M12- E03-E04 in website:

http://www.mngogate.com/(approve sites)

All messages are available to members as archives. Main points of discussion are noted here.

For more information, email mngogate @ vsnl.com Comments invited.

1. Marathi uses Devanagari (DN) script. It has many merits. It should prosper. Emails in DN are possible but often there are font problems. Roman script is linear and easy for typing and word-indexing. English language has global importance. In future, there will be huge development of electronic things, using the Roman script (lipi). DN- based products may not be viable. So take optional Roman lipi for Marathi.

2. Language and script are separate entities. Kids, blind persons and illiterates speak a language though unable to read. Some languages are multi-script. We use Marathi, but also use English when needed. Similarly, use Roman when needed.

3. Roman script has only 26 symbols, which are not sufficient to denote various Marathi sounds. There are 4 methods to tackle the deficiency (- 1 -) Use digraphs, that is 2-letter combinations such as aa, ae. Strictly speaking aa is not a + a, and ae is not a + e. But imagine they are single symbols (- 2 -) Use apo = apostrophe mark. Example - (dagad') = stone. (d, d') have slightly varying sounds. (d) has sound of th-they in English. (d' ) has sound of d-dog in English (- 3 -) Roman script is a twin script. English treats smalls and capitals with equal phonetic values. But Marathi may carry different values. Examples -- a (u-up English) A (rAjA = king) d (d in dagad') D (d' in dagad'). But intermittent capitals within words are eyesores. (- 4 -) Give up symbols of defunct sounds. Example - (r'sh'i) may be written as (rushi) or (rishi).

4. Generally, words should be spelled as per standard Marathi symbols. English words such as police, icecream may be easily respelled in Marathi as polis, aaiskrim. But people may object to respelled names for reasons of documents and sentiment. Respelling of technical words may hurt for science. Such words and names may be started with capitals for cautioning. Example -- Sodium Chloride. Its sound (sod'iyam kloraaid') may be explained. Similarly, use capitals for starting all words in English quotations and when one is not sure. Example -- respell as (pepar) or write (Paper).

5. Usual practice of a capital at start and a dot at end of a sentence, deserves review. First word (with capital) of a sentence would give a wrong signal that it is technical. There may be some unrespelled words, with capitals, at various locations in a paragraph. A single dot is not visible. A triple dot (...) will easily denote the end of a sentence. Leave a blank space after it, before starting the next sentence. Use single dots after initials of names. Sentence-ending (! and ?) need two extra dots.

6. A change in script gives an opportunity to drop some anomalies. For example, when English words are expressed in DN, we drop the second ( l ) in (sell) and the silent (h) in (honest). We may change DN forms (sarakaara, uchcha, r'sh'i, madhye, duh'kha) to Roman words (sarkaar, utcha, rushi, madhe, dukkha). We may omit DN duality ( i - ee, u - V oo) but take new duality (ch - ch', j - j') We may take (aa) or (a') = (a - arm) to distinguish from (a) = (both a - american). We may take (sat + tya = sattya = truth) (pun'+ n'ya = pun'n'ya =spiritual merit) to distinguish from (ty - tyaag ) (n'y - pun'yaat = In Pune). Few anomalies might persist. DN word ghara (=home) is usually uttered as ghar, but in some recitals as ghara (Example -- he vishvachi maaj' he ghara). Roman word would be ghar (with optional sound ghara).

7. People will accept Roman script if it is made reasonably phonetic, if it has only an optional status, and if it can be adopted without making any changes in English-typing machines available with people. All machines may not be latest models. Also, all people are not scholars. The script should be easy. Words teraa (= 13) tel (= oil) have rhasva-dirgha pronunciation of (e) but its symbol is common in DN. Similarly, it may be ok to cancel the duality of (i-ee), (u-oo) in Roman. Names Hindi, Marathi are shown in DN with dirgha (ee) at end, but we accept rhasva ending (i) in English.

8. Above points were partly discussed. Also following -- People use (a) for both (a, aa) in Marathi names. (aa) unduly makes Roman words long and tedious. Make no change. But (a, aa) are needed for phonetic clarity. Use of (a') for (aa) might help. Symbol (u') may be reserved for (su'lfu'r) etc. A suggestion was about using (w) in place of (v). Not ruled out, but (w) is not popular due to squeezed shape (in manual typewriters, equal space to every symbol), its complex symbol name, and to avoid clash of dev (= God) with English word (dew). A suggestion was about using the stroke \ (like a maatraa symbol in DN) and so on. It does not ensure the (a-z) link of Marathi to the great electronic and information world. (a-z) is already used for phone books. Spellings should also work vertically in puzzles. A suggestion was about using diacritical marks such as a horizontal bar above (a) to denote (aa). It was used in few scholarly Sanskrit books. It is good but not practical, since it is absent in most PCs and machines. Marathi has some diphthongs = vowel after vowel. Thus -- aai = mother. Some training is required to read (aai) as (aa + i ) and not as (a + ai).

9. Marathi M12 pdf (with few English hints) in:

http://www.mngogate.com/(approve sites)

gives demo of 8 Marathi proverbs. (triple dot, aa, apo, i = ee, u = oo used. No name, no capital). Marathi does not have sounds of (a- cat) (aw-law) except for few English words. Show them as (ae) (ao). Any proposal of optional Roman lipi for Marathi will progress for emails, websites etc if symbol sound relations are standardized. At present, people use arbitrary Roman symbols for emails. Efforts are needed to propagate a practical standard, using Marathi language, for Marathi people. This note in English may help others too. A script should look nice. Irregular English spellings can affect Marathi in the Roman arena. Respell them, or take them with the capital symbol "guards".

This article neat 2 page 40 kB attachment is available on request mngogate @ vsnl.com

Linguistic Field(s): Writing Systems

Item retrieved from the downloaded archives of Qalam. Its last functioning group archive URL was:

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