Part-19: Summary of the lesson
In this lesson, we have seen the
aksharas of Sanskrit. The vowels and consonants were introduced independently.
The concept of conjunct characters was also discussed and examples of the
writing methods for conjuncts were shown.
The student should practice writing the
aksharas and slowly develop the skills to identify the aksharas and thus
read short sentences. The Akshara animation page is a useful resource for
learning the stroking order for the Akshars. The page also includes audio
examples for learning the correct pronunciation of the Aksharas.
Typesetting Devanagari is a complex job involving
careful selection of typefaces for each of the conjuncts. The form of writing
the consonsnts one below the other was not favoured for conjuncts with
more than two consonsnts since this would increase the vertical height
of the conjunct. When it was indeed done, the individual consonants had
to be reduced in size to such an extent that in some cases intelligiblity
became a problem.
We must mention here the contributions
from Franz Velthuis, Dominik Wujastyk and more recently Wikner, who have
made available a fine facility to print Devanagari through Tex, a typesetting
Program developed by Prof. Knuth. Much of the work related to transliterated
forms of Devanagari input (such as ITRANS) is credited to their work. In
particular, Wikner has designed nearly a thousand conjuncts. The software
relating to this is usually seen in the archives for Tex. Interested readers
may take a look at Wikner's conjuncts by printing the document sktdoc.600ps
available from ftp.nacdh4.nac.ac.za/wikner/
The normal practice in India (during the
past 50 years or so) has been to use the half form as well the one below
the other form effectively so as not to increase the vertical height of
the akshara. The choice of combining the half forms with vertically arranged
combinations was often exercised by the typesetter and so it is not unusual
to find different representations for the same conjunct.