naYana

The naYana phonetic alphabet is created by Nagarjuna G. and Vickram Crishna and few other collaborators and interns at the gnowledge lab (https://www.gnowledge.org) of Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (https://www.hbcse.tifr.res.in), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) at Mumbai in India (See full credits below). The current version is a result of iterative development that started around 2012. The protoype OTF font for the alphabet with latin keyboard mapping is designed and developed by Nagarjuna G.Download the OTF font.

The ability to produce a variety of vocalizations and other sounds through the buccal cavity gives human beings, so to speak, a speech engine. According to Ethnologue there are over 7000 different languages spoken around the world. If we take IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) as an indication of the variety of vocalizations that we can generate, we have about 107 sound symbols for each phoneme, plus about 50 diacritics generating variations of the sounds and a few intonations. None of the languages use all of them. For example, English uses only about 24 consonants and 20 vowel forms to produce variations; Hindustani has about 28 consonants and about 8 vowels. Taa language, spoken in Botswana, is considered to have the alrgest number of phonemes including non-vocal click sounds, with about 60 consonants and about 30 vowels. Each of these phonemes need a corresponding alphabet, and IPA does provide that. However, IPA is a linguistic exercise and not developed for literacy. There are some attempts to make the IPA encodable within 7-bit ASCII range, e.g. X-SAMPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-SAMPA), which is now used mostly as an input method for IPA. If universal literacy is the motive, we need a script that is easy to learn, easy to learn another language. extendable and localizable without violating the design principles, and finally preerving and provisioning for the diversity of expression.

The ability to produce a variety of vocalizations and other sounds through the buccal cavity gives human beings, so to speak, a speech engine. According to Ethnologue there are over 7000 different languages spoken around the world. If we take IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) as an indication of the variety of vocalizations that we can generate, we have about 107 sound symbols for each phoneme, plus about 50 diacritics generating variations of the sounds and a few intonations. None of the languages use all of them. For example, English uses only about 24 consonants and 20 vowel forms to produce variations; Hindustani has about 28 consonants and about 8 vowels. Taa language, spoken in Botswana, is considered to have the alrgest number of phonemes including non-vocal click sounds, with about 60 consonants and about 30 vowels. Each of these phonemes need a corresponding alphabet, and IPA does provide that. However, IPA is a linguistic exercise and not developed for literacy. There are some attempts to make the IPA encodable within 7-bit ASCII range, e.g. X-SAMPA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-SAMPA), which is now used mostly as an input method for IPA. If universal literacy is the motive, we need a script that is easy to learn, easy to learn another language. extendable and localizable without violating the design principles, and finally preerving and provisioning for the diversity of expression.

The end result: a script where learning to spell a word is made redundant, and no spelling olympiads can be held.

A word about celebrating cultural variation. Often we hear arguments that any attempt at a universal code goes against human history and cultural variation. Common code does not eliminate diversity of expression within a wider population, on the other hand it becomes a base for inclusive participation. Trascriptional unity can generate translational diversity is well evidenced by a common genetic code, where four letters and 64 words generated the organic diversity which is key for organic evolution. We hope naYana project will enhance cultural diversity and localization through transciptional unity and universal literacy.

naYana alphabets

naYana alphabets Figure 1: naYana alphabets. The vowel set followed by the consonents which are grouped into six categories, and the numbers are grouped into 0-9.

Most of the shapes used in the design of naYana alphabet are widely available within the very large unicode set of most common fonts. Some of the shapes are created by rotating them, and by doing a union or diffrence operation of the outlines from existing shapes. No distinction between capital and small letters is proposed. The prototype font (naYanakamik is derived from Comik Neue Regular)

Vowels

Vowels are produced by free passage of breath through the oral cavity. All vowels are created by a shape that closely resembles the sound, placed above a horizontal line with a gap, representing the free passage of breath. The modifiers placed on top of the horizontal line are chosen intuitively and inspired from existing usage.

vowel chart of naYana Table 1: vowels chart indicating the IPA mapping, proposed input character for typing on a regular QWERTY keyboard and examples.

Additional vowel forms can be created by a combination of the base vowels, e.g. au, oi, ui, ae, ea ou etc. When necessary localized interpretations can be defined for each langauge or dialect.

Consonents

Sharper contact at the end of the palate genetates /k/, therfore k is chosen. A softer blunter variation of k generates /g/, hence g. Few of the first consonent vocalization generated by infants are various bilabial sounds. Starting with simple p for /p/, f for /f/, b for /b/, and m for /m/ is proposed. Since /b/ and /v/ are closer sounds, while the latter is produced by open lips to leave a little space for the air passing through, we created v by opening b. The /t/ is generated when tongue touches the palate almost at the middle, so t is chosen, and toungue touching the teeth gives us /ɵ/, so we chose T. For /d/ we chose capital delta from the greek letters, because it needs a sharper shape, and for /ð/ a rounded and smoother form of delta, a rounded heart shape d. l shape is chosen for /l/; a crossed R for /r/; s for /s/; Y for /j/; n for /n/ were chosen from the widely used simple shapes. /t̠ʃ/ is produced when tongue flatly touches the palate, hence c. j,z are made with slight variation of j for /d͡ʒ/ and /z/ respectively. The choice of H for /h/ is intuitive, also being at the margin of being a vowel and a consonant, created by linking the roof and the floor. By inserting modifiers to this basic set of consonants, we can create localized versions as and when necessary. As and when necessary, more simple shapes can be inserted into the alphabet, holding to the above design principles.

Numbers

The number shapes were created keeping semantics of the decimal number system. 6-9 are created by inserting stroke modifer of 1-4. The number 5 is represented as half of 10, hence D. The need to create special symbols for numbers is arising from using some of the number shapes for the consonents, e.g. s, m and T for /s/, /m/ and /ɵ/.

consonents chart of naYana

Table 2: Consonents with the shape, IPA phoneme mapping, proposed input character for typing on a regular QWERTY keyboard, with examples.

UDHR transcripts

Article 1 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights is transcribed in multiple langauges below:

Standard English Spelling for Universal Declaration of Human Rights

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

QWERTY keyboard input for Article 1 of UDHR

aal hYuman biings ar barn frii anD iikval in Digniti anD Ryts. de ar enDoveD viT Riizan anD kansyens anD SuD Akt tuvarDz van enader in a spiRit af braderhud.

naYana transcript for UDHR

aal hYuman biings ar barn frii anD iikval in Digniti anD Ryts. de ar enDoveD viT Riizan anD kansyens anD SuD Akt tuvarDz van enader in a spiRit af braderhud.

Article 1 of UDHR in Hindi

सभी मनुष्यों को गौरव और अधिकारों के मामले में जन्मजात स्वतन्त्रता और समानता प्राप्त है । उन्हें बुद्धि और अन्तरात्मा की देन प्राप्त है और परस्पर उन्हें भाईचारे के भाव से बर्ताव करना चाहिए ।

sabhir manuSYoko gauRav auR adhikaRon ke marmle me janmajaaT svaTanTRaTa aur samaanTa pRapT hai. unhebuddi auR anTRaTmar kii den prapT hai auR paRaspaR unhe bhaircarRe ke bhav se baRTav kaRna carhiYe.

Article 1 of UDHR in Marathi

सर्व मानवी व्यक्ती जन्मतः स्वतंत्र आहेत व त्यांना समान प्रतिष्ठा व समान आधिकार आहेत. त्यांना विचारशक्ती व सदसद्विवेकबुद्धी लाभलेली आहे व त्यांनी एकमेकांशी बंधुत्वाच्या भावनेने आचरण करावे.

saRva maanavi vYakti janmaTaha svaTanTRa aahet va TYaannaa samaan pRatiSthaa va samaan adhiKaaR aaheT. Tyanna vicaRSakTi va sadsadvivekbuddhi laabhaleli aahe va Tyanni ekmekarnSi bandhutvacyaa bhaavanene aacaRaN kaRaave.

Article 1 of UDHR in Telugu

ప్రతిపత్తిస్వత్వముల విషయమున మానవులెల్లరును జన్మతః స్వతంత్రులును సమానులును నగుదురు. వారు వివేచన-అంతఃకరణ సంపన్నులగుటచే పరస్పరము భ్రాతృభావముతో వర్తింపవలయును.

pRaTipaTTisvaTvamula viSaYamuna maanavulellaRunu janmaTaha svaTanTRulunu samaanulunu naguduRu. vaaRu vivercana-anTahakaRaNa sampannulagutacEr paRaspaRamu bhRaTRubhavamuTo vaRTimpavalaYunu.

Article 1 of UDHR in Sanskrit

सर्वे मानवाः स्वतन्त्राः समुत्पन्नाः वर्तन्ते अपि च, गौरवदृशा अधिकारदृशा च समानाः एव वर्तन्ते। एते सर्वे चेतना-तर्क-शक्तिभ्यां सुसम्पन्नाः सन्ति। अपि च, सर्वेऽपि बन्धुत्व-भावनया परस्परं व्यवहरन्तु।

saRve maanavaaha svaTanTRaaha samuTpannaaha vaRTanTe api c, gauRavdRuSaa adhiKaaRdRuSa c samaanaaha eva vaRTanTe. eTe saRve ceTanaa-TaRka-Saktibhyaam susampannaaha sanTi. api c, saRverpi bandhuTva-bhaavanayaa paRaspaRam vyavahaRanTu.

Credits

Credits Authors:Nagarjuna G. and Vickram Krishna

Author of naYanakamikRegular font: Nagarjuna G. Download the OTF font

Name for the alphabet given by: Rafikh Shaikh

Transcription of UDHR in Marathi and Sanskrit: Spruha Satavlekar

Transcription of UDHR in Telugu: Nagarjuna G.

Student interns: who worked iteratively testing the idea: Smriti Rao, Deepa ramrakhani, Prachi Rahurkar, Sonal Bhavsar, Afrin Pinjari, Pooja Naik, Johnson Shetty, Kabir Kukreti and several others.

Translations of UDHR taken from https://unicode.org/udhr/index.html

21st July 2020