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Hindi and South Asian Language Script Resources – India

Effective Living > Language Learning > Hindi

Introduction. This document contains materials related to the languages of India. Click here for Hindi learning online resources.
“India has a diverse list of spoken languages among different groups of people. At least 800 different languages and around 2000 dialects have been identified. The Constitution of India has stipulated the usage of Hindi and English to be the two languages of communication for the Central (Federal) government. … India has a list of 23 official languages … Article 343 of the India Constitution states that the [one] official language of the Union (India) shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.” [Source: Wikipedia]

  • The resources below are listed alphabetically by category.
  • Within each category, items are also listed alphabetically.
  • Anyone new to the languages of India may want to review the section on Terminology.

Resources for Languages and their Associated Fonts and Input Systems. Below are resources for working with a variety of fonts and input systems. Links are listed alphabetically by name of the website providing the font information. For informational and contextual purposes, a brief introduction is also provided.

  • Apple – Indian Language Kit. The Apple OS X operating system includes the Indian Language Kit. “The Indian Language Kit supports three North Indian scripts. Devanagari, Gurmukhi, and Gujarati. The same script can be used by several languages if they share most of the same characters and behaviors. For example, Devanagari is used for four languages: Hindi, Marathi, Nepali, and Sanskrit. Gurmukhi for the Punjabi language; and Gujarati for the Gujarati language. So, the Indian Language Kit supports three different scripts and six different Indic languages.” [Source: Apple]
  • Brahmi. “The Brahmi alphabet is the ancestor of most of the 40 or so modern Indian alphabets, and of a number of other alphabets, such as Khmer and Tibetan. It is thought to have been modeled on the Aramaic or Phoenician alphabets, and appeared in India sometime before 500 BC. Another theory is that Brahmi developed from the Indus or Harappa script, which was used in the Indus valley until about 2,000 BC. The earliest known inscriptions in the Brahmi alphabet are those of King Asoka (c.270-232 BC), third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty. Brahmi was used to write a variety of languages, including Sanskrit and Prakrit. … The descendants of the Brahmi alphabet include: Bengali, Devanāgarī, Gujarāti, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Khmer, Malayalam, Oriya, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan.” [Source: Omniglot]
  • Devanagari. “The Nāgarī (lit. ‘of the city’) or Devanāgarī (‘divine Nagari’) alphabet descended from the Brahmi script sometime around the 11th century AD. It was originally developed to write Sanksrit but was later adapted to write many other languages.” [Source: Omniglot]
    • Omniglot – fonts page
    • Wazu – Japan’s Gallery of Unicode Fonts
    • Wikipedia – how to use Devanagari
  • Gujarati. “The Gujarati script is a Brahmi-derived writing system used for Gujarati (the state language of Gujarat, India) and other languages such as Kachchi.” [Source: Wazu.jp]
    • Wazu.jp – fonts page for Gujarati
  • Gurmukhi. “The Gurmukhī (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ) script is derived from the Later Sharada script and was standardized by the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad Dev, in the 16th century for writing the Punjabi language. The whole of the Guru Granth Sahib’s 1430 pages are written in this script. The name Gurmukhi is derived from the Old Punjabi term “guramukhī”, meaning ‘from the mouth of the Guru.'” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Hindi. “Hindi (Devanagari: हिन्दी or हिंदी; IPA: [hɪnd̪iː]), an Indo-European language spoken mainly in northern and central India, is the official language of the Union government of India [1][2]. It is part of a dialect continuum of the Indic family, bounded on the northwest and west by Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu, and Gujarati; on the south by Marathi; on the southeast by Oriya; on the east by Bengali; and on the north by Nepali. Hindi also refers to a standardized register of Hindustani termed khariboli, that emerged as the standard dialect of Hindi.” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Jaipur.
    • Linguistlist.org user comment regarding Jaipur [Source: Linguistlist.org]

      Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 15:23:09 -0600 (CST)
      From: Yvette C. Rosser
      Subject: Re: Devanagari for the Mac (Jaipur font)

      Naseem Hines wrote: “Try Jaipur. I am pretty happy with it, except, the bindu in meN or haiN sometimes hides in the matraas and there is no provision for a bindu under the retro D or Rh.”

      Yvette C. Rosser responds: For retroflexes such as “D or Rh,” and also for Urdu letters which require a dot, such as k or j, all you have to do in Jaipur is to hold down the shift and the option key at the same time, and type the backslash / key. Then, type the desired retroflex consonant, and a dot should automatically appear under it. I does on my keyboard, at any rate. I do, however, think that Jaipur is old and ugly and there are other much more aesthetically pleasing fonts.

    • Municipal Corporation of Delhi – support page offering a variety of resources including the Jaipur font in TrueType format which is compatible with Apple OS X and Microsoft Word
    • University of Chicago, South Asia Language Resource Center – Jaipur font Developed by the Penn Language Center and available for free download from the University of Pennsylvania. A version of this font was used to produce Usha Jain’s Intermediate Hindi Reader.
  • Marathi. “Marathi (मराठी Marāṭhī) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western India (Maharshtrians). It serves as the official language of the state of Maharashtra, with roughly ninety million fluent speakers worldwide.” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Nepal Bhasa. “Nepal Bhasa (नेपाल भाषा, also known as Newah Bhaye and Newari) is one of the major languages of Nepal. It is one of the roughly five hundred Sino-Tibetan languages in the world, and belongs to the Tibeto-Burman branch of this family. It is the only Tibeto-Burman language to be written in the Devanāgarī script.” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Napali. “Nepali (Khaskura) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Nepal, Bhutan, and some parts of India and Myanmar (Burma). It is the official language of Nepal. Roughly half the population of Nepal speaks Nepali as a mother tongue, and many other Nepalese speak it as a second language.” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Punjabi. “Punjabi (also Panjabi; ਪੰਜਾਬੀ Pañjābī in Gurmukhī, پنجابی Panjābī in Shāhmukhī) is the language of the Punjabi people and the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan.
    It is an Indo-European language within the Indic branch of the Indo-Iranian subfamily. Unusually for an Indo-European language, Punjabi is tonal; the tones arose as a reinterpretation of different consonant series in terms of pitch.” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Sanskrit. “The Sanskrit language (संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. Dating back to at least 1500 B.C., its position in the cultures of South and Southeast Asia is akin to that of Latin and Greek in Europe. It appears in pre-Classical form as Vedic Sanskrit (appearing in the Vedas), with the language of the Rigveda being the oldest and most archaic stage preserved. This fact and comparative studies in historical linguistics show that it is one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family; it is considered a base language of many modern-day Asian languages.” [Source: Wikipedia]

Terminology. Below are important terms relating to South Asia Languages.

  • Abugida. “An abugida, alphasyllabary, or syllabics is a writing system in which consonant signs (graphemes) are inherently associated with a following vowel.” [Source: Wikipedia]
  • Brahmic family. “The Brahmic family is a family of abugidas (writing systems) used in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria.” [Source: Wikipedia]

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com