From: alka irani (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Apr 29 2010 - 00:16:56 CDT
To understand the concept of linguistic zero, one has to understand the
uniqueness and advantages of Indic scripts. This can be understood by
establishing equivalence of Indic characters to other scripts at phonetic
What is known as halant ka क् is the most elementary character of Indic
script and it corresponds to character 'k' in English.
For example when we write kamalaa , it is k + a + m + a + l + aa.
क् + अ + म्
+ अ + ल् + आ
क म ला
Indian languages have an additional layer of composition using which they
are written as sequences of 'symbols'.
A 'symbol' is a stand-alone unit , it is not broken across lines and it a
unit of display as well as speech. Most of the times it is formed by
combining a vowel (in matra form) with one or more conjuncts. In the
example above, the name क म ला consists of 3 symbols, क, म and ला.
Since the script is a sequence of continuous symbols, once you know how to
read symbols, you can pronounce any word without much difficulty. Unlike,
other languages in other scripts, you don't have to learn the pronunciation
The elementary characters are divided into two main groups vowels ('svara')
and consonants ( 'vyanjanas'). A symbol is formed by adding a vowel
('svara') to one ( or sometime 2,3 or 4) consonant ('vyanjana') .
Thus k ( ka halant) with various vowels becomes,
k k+a k+aa k+i k+ii k+u k+uu k+e k+ai k+o k+au
When combined with the 'vyanjana' the 'svara' takes the form of a 'matra'
so in the final 'symbolic' form various combinations are written as shown in
C) and not as shown in B)
A) k k+a k+aa k+i k+ii k+u k+uu k+e k+ai k+o k+au
B) क् क् अ क् आ क् इ क् ई क् उ क ऊ क् ए क् ऐ क् ओ क्
C) क् क का कि की कु कू के कै को
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
For display purpose, there is a concept of basic form of the characters.
Basic form is the form for the character without any matra. Thus basic form
for original 'muula' k is क.
In the lexicon of the language, there are very few words with 'muula'
characters as a 'symbols' and most of the times, the 'muula' character is
combined with one of the 'svaras'. For display purpose, k+a is a default
which means when the basic form क is shown it should be interpretated as
'k + a' .
Unicode as well as ISCII have given character codes for this default form क
which has interpretation 'k + a'. Since the default form is k with
'a-matra' , we should have a mechanism to show the original 'muula'
character just 'k'. Thus halant matra is introduced , which corresponds to
'zero matra' for the original character 'k' or can be called 'linguistic
I hope this has brought some clarity to the issue.
.. Alka Irani
On Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 11:07 PM, N. Ganesan <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM, JAGANADH G <email@example.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 10:50 PM, N. Ganesan <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote:
>>> A question for linguists. In Indian scripts,
>>> there is a sign called halanta
>>> which is used to delete an
>>> inherent vowel /a/ in an Indic syllable.
>>> For example, in any Indic script,
>>> A syllable with /a/ + Halant = A "pure" consonant (with /a/ "killed")
>>> [ka] + Halant = [k]
>> It is wrong.
>> [ka] - [a] = [k] not [ka] + [Halant] = [k]
>> like wise
>> [ka] - [a] + [i] = [ki]
> yes. [halant] = - [a].
> My question is: the Zeroing element (call it halant or -/a/)
> a linguistic zero?
> N. Ganesan
>>> Usually, in early Brahmi, the halant "vowel-killer" sign is like a
>>> above any consonant syllable. In Tamil, halant is a dot (bindu) above
>>> of on the side a syllable, which is same as bindu for zero
>>> in Khmer inscriptions.
>>> My question: Can we call Indic Halanta (the "killer" of vowel,/a/)
>>> a form/kind of "Linguistic Zero" of PaaNini?
>>> What is ment by "Linguistic Zero"?
>> JAGANADH G
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Apr 29 2010 - 00:21:11 CDT