Marathi Roman Script Discussion

Madhukar N. Gogate mngogate at VSNL.COM
Mon Feb 28 10:00:06 UTC 2005

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Title --  Marathi Roman Script Discussion
For members of [marathi-romanscript at]
Also for general publicity.

Madhukar N Gogate (Pune, India), Moderator, initiated discussion
on 1 Feb 2005. It is concluded with Moderator’s this message on 28 Feb
2005. All messages available to members as archives. Main points are
noted here. Email mngogate at  See M11-M12-E03-E04
in website  Comments invited. Circulate.

1. Thanks to all members (about 60% were silent) for participation.
Membership of (33) was reduced to (30) at the end. There was no voting,
and no direct decision. What did the group achieve ? Probably better
awareness. All members may kindly help the cause with emails to friends,
talks at clubs, articles in newspapers etc.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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).

5. 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).

6. 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.

7. 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 – 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).

8. 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.

9. 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).

10. Marathi M12 pdf (with few English hints) in  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".

--  End ---
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mngogate at

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