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Learn Sanskrit through Self Study

Devanagari Script (lesson 0!)

Part-13: Writing methods for Conjuncts

Identifying conjuncts in written text is important for several reasons. Traditionally, Sanskrit verses were composed to conform to specific metre comprising a fixed number of aksharas. Hence the writing systems also provided some mechanism to form conjuncts from the consonants. The use of the "half form" introduced earlier is a practice allowed for many conjuncts particularly those which include a vertical stroke in their shapes. Since the half form is not clearly defined for all the consonants, special shapes were introduced for some of the conjuncts. Thus the actual shapes for many conjuncts were altered but in a way allowing enough clues to identify the individual consonants.

In many cases, the individual consonants were written one below the other vertically but with reduced sizes to accommodate writing the conjunct within a vertical span. In some cases, a combination of "half form" and writing one below the other was adopted. It must be pointed out that considerable flexibility exists in writing the conjuncts, though by convention, some shapes have become the standard. Let s look at some examples.

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Samyuktakshar and vowel combinations

The rules for writing syllables with samyuktakshar and vowels are the same as the ones for writing consonant-vowel combinations. The matras are used exactly the same way as before and will apply to the last consonant in the syllable except for "i" where the matra will appear before all the half-forms when half-forms are used. When the shape of the conjunct is very different, its shape may be viewed as that of a consonant itself and the matras added appropriately. 

The rules for writing conjuncts are not very rigid. In respect of Sanskrit, certain conventions are followed in the use of the nasal consonants and the anuswar. Since the Devanagari script is also used for other languages such as Hindi and Marathi, one has to remember the conventions followed in those languages. The conventions do differ in the use of the nasal consonants and the sibilants.

The writing systems used in India fall under the category of syllabic writing systems. All the Indian languages which are written in one script or another strictly follow the rules for writing syllables. The Acharya site carries a special page describing the intricacies of the writing systems of the different languages. The referenced page presents an overview that should help the reader understand the complexities of the writing systems, specifically from the point of view of different shapes and conventions used in the scripts.



Next Section  Conjuncts with "ra"

Previous Section  Conjunct characters

Start of this Lesson

Contents

Introduction

Short Vowels

Long Vowels

Support Vowels

Generic form of a Consonant

Gutturals

Palatals

Cerebrals

Dentals

Labials

Semi Vowels, Sibilants etc.

Consonant Vowel combinations

Conjunct characters

Writing methods for Conjuncts

Conjuncts with "ra"

List of Conjuncts

Similar looking Aksharas

Vedic symbols

Rarely used Aksharas

Summary

Exercises

Listening Practice


  Message of the Gita
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Last updated on  Oct. 05, 2012