naYana is a phonetic alphabet that maps to International Phonetic alphabet (IPA), to make reading and writing of IPA easy for both humans and computers.

Why naYana

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 largest 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 (, 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 preserving and provisioning for the diversity of expression.

Design Principles

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.

Digital Support

naYana Font

The naYana phonetic alphabet is created by Nagarjuna G. and Vickram Crishna and few other collaborators and interns at the gnowledge lab ( of Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (, 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.

Browser Plugin

A browser plugin is also developed that can render complete web pages and selected text into naYana, thus making the script more accessible to large audiences. The plugin can be accessed and installed from here. Currently the plugin supports webpages in English and Hindi to be converted into naYana.

Features of the plugin

Online Playground

To make learning the script more accessible and fun, a naYana playground is also developed, which can be accessed here, where the users can type in naYana using their standard Latin keyboards. All the character mapping charts are also available there for a handy reference of the learner. An additional logging feature is also included for easy comparison and contrast, thus aiding in learning the script.

naYana alphabets

naYana alphabets Figure 1: naYana alphabets. The vowel set followed by the consonants 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 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.


Sharper contact at the end of the palate generates /k/; therfore, k is chosen. A softer blunter variation of k generates /g/, hence g. Few of the first consonant vocalizations 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 /ʈ/ is generated when the tongue touches the palate almost at the middle, so ʈ is chosen, and the tongue touching the teeth gives us /t/, 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 the delta, a rounded heart shape ð. 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 the tongue flatly touches the palate, hence c. j and z are made with a 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 into 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.


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 consonants, e.g. s, m and T for /s/, /m/ and /ɵ/.

consonants chart of naYana

Table 2: Consonants 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:


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, Vikas Balani, Tushar Garg, Ruchir Jain, Vinay Jain and several others.

Translations of UDHR taken from

19th July 2021