Numerals in the Scripts of Indian Languages
Several posts back we were discussing Mongolian script. I indicated my intention to give a systematic post about the numerals in that script. That hasn't happened yet, because I wanted to first cover some "basic" discussion about numerals in more familiar scripts. I have now discussed the most familiar Indo-Arabic numeral sets — Western Arabic numerals (0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) [commonly referred to as "Arabic numerals"} and Eastern Arabic numerals (٩٨٧٦٥٤٣٢١٠)
[unambiguously referred to as the numerals of Arabic script].
I am now ready to discuss the third branch of Indo-Arabic numerals, the numerals of the various scripts used by the languages of the Indian subcontinent.
Numerals in the Scripts of Indian Languages
Here are the ten digits/glyphs in eleven Indian language scripts. All employ decimal systems of numeration.
"Pair"(?) 3p revenue stamp(s), Forest Department, Devanagari script, including numeral.
I think these are Maharashtra revenues, inscribed in Marathi.
[Joy, can you confirm or correct, please?]
• The various forms of "zero
" (0) are most easily recognised across this list, and are historically the most recently added character/glyph in each list. The dot, used in various Eastern Arabic scripts (here: Urdu) is the exception — it refers to an empty place in calculating devices such as an abacus or tray of counters. The glyph for "two
" is probably the next most easily recognised by readers only familiar with Latin/Roman script. On the other hand, even the glyph for "one
" is surprisingly varied across scripts, and easily misread by readers only familiar with Latin/Roman script. Geographical proximity has resulted in greater similarity between some sets of scripts in this list — look at Devanagari, Gujarati and Gurmukhi, for instance, or Kanada and Telugu.
• The Devanagari
script is not specific to a single language, though its current use for Hindi is numerically its most common occurrence. Historically its main use was to write Sanskrit, but it has been adopted for many important contemporary languages in addition to Hindi, including Konkani, Marathi, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Nepali.
Wikipedia wrote:Devanagari, /ˌdeɪvəˈnɑːɡəri/ DAY-və-NAH-gər-ee; देवनागरी, IAST: Devanāgarī (Sanskrit pronunciation: [deːʋɐˈnaːɡɐɽiː]), also called Nagari नागरी [Nāgarī] is a left-to-right abugida/alphasyllabary based on the ancient Brāhmī script, used in the Indian subcontinent. It was developed in ancient India from the 1st to the 4th century CE and was in regular use by the 7th century CE. The Devanagari script, composed of 47 primary characters including 14 vowels and 33 consonants, is the fourth(*) most widely adopted writing system in the world, being used for over 120 languages.
(*) In order of number of users, the world's most widely adopted scripts are: Latin [= Roman]; Chinese [= 汉字/漢字 Hànzì]; Arabic [العربية alearabia]; Devanagari [देवनागरी Devanāgarī]. Each has more than 600m users, while all others have fewer than 300m users [m = million].
• The Urdu
numerals are essentially the Persian form of Eastern Arabic numerals — the most characteristic differences from "standard" Eastern Arabic numerals being in the three middle digits: ۴ ۵ ۶
Spoken Hindi and Urdu are very similar, and certainly mutually intelligible.
Encyclopedia Britannica wrote:Their distinction is most marked in terms of writing systems: Urdu uses a modified form of Perso-Arabic script known as Nastaliq, nastaʿlīq, while Hindi uses Devanagari script.
Wikipedia wrote:Nastaʼlīq, /ˈnæstəˌliːk/, Persian: نستعلیق IPA: /næsˈtæʔliːq/, is one of the main calligraphic hands used in writing the Persian alphabet and the Urdu alphabet, and traditionally the predominant style in Persian calligraphy. It was developed in Persia [= Iran] in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is sometimes used to write Arabic language text (where it is mainly used for titles and headings), but its use has always been more popular in the Persian, Urdu and Turkic sphere of influence. Nastaliq remains very widely used in Iran, Afghanistan and the Indian Subcontinent and other countries for written poetry and as a form of art.
A less elaborate version of Nastaliq serves as the preferred style for writing in Kashmiri and Urdu and it is often used alongside Naskh for Pashto. In Persian [Farsi], it is used for poetry only.
numerals look identical. Are there two different scripts, or are they the same? Summary answer: very similar, but not the same. For more detail, read on...
Let's follow up briefly on Assamese /ˌæsəˈmiːz/= Axomiya /ɔxɔmija/ অসমীয়া:
The Bengali–Assamese script, commonly known as Bengali script, also known as Eastern Nagari script, is a modern eastern Brahmic script...
There are three major modern alphabets in this script: Tirhuta, Bengali, and Assamese. Modern Assamese is very similar to modern Bengali though Tirhuta is more different from both Assamese and Bengali. Assamese has at least one extra letter, ৱ, that Bengali does not. It also uses a separate letter for the sound 'ro' ৰ different from the letter used for that sound in Bengali র and the letter ক্ষ is not a conjunct as in Bengali, but a letter by itself...
The Bengali—Assamese script was originally not associated with any particular regional language, but was prevalent as the main script in the eastern regions of Medieval India for Old- and Middle-Indo-Aryan including Sanskrit. Epics of Hindu scripture, including the Mahabharata or Ramayana, were written in older versions of the Eastern Nagari script in this region...
While efforts at standardising the script for the Bengali language continue in such notable centers as the Bangla Academy at Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi at Kolkata (West Bengal, India), it is still not quite uniform as yet, as many people continue to use various archaic forms of letters, resulting in concurrent forms for the same sounds. Among the various regional variations within this script, only the Bengali and Assamese variations exist today in the formalised system.