Assamese Alphabet

We are presently working on a Assamese font set that can be used with LaTex. The Assamese script has 41 consonants and 11 vowels. These are similar to the Devnagari script which is used by Hindi, the present national language. (Check out the ASCII/Indian-script song book for Hindi) The language has a number of juktakhars which are combination of consonants. They are not simple juxtaposition, rather some combination of modified versions of the consonants. Surprisingly about 80 of them exists and each of them need to be defined in the font for a complete representation. Another characteristic of Sanskrit based language is the use of post-consonantal forms of the vowels. Unlike the Roman script, a vowel used after a consonant changes form and gets attached to the consonant. The Latex font development system Meta font allows implementation of such constructs by defining ligatures in the font. A few constructs, that cannot be implemented in metafont, will be implemented by using a text pre-processor. Such a pre-processor is needed to make the writing of the Assamese text using Roman alphabets easy and readable. Vowels The Assamese vowels are shown below:

The phonetic representation of the vowels are:

a aa i ii
u uu ree
e oi o au

Consonants The Assamese consonants:

The phonetic representation of the consonants are:

ka kha ga gha unga
ca cca ja jha niya
ta tha da dha na
ta tha da dha na
pa pha ba bha ma
ja ra la wa
xa xa xa ha
khya ya Ra Ra

The last four characters are called khanda-ta, anuswar, bixarga, chandrabindu. The third and fourth rows are similar sounds but differ on the stress. The three xa are a special sound not seen in other Sanskrit based language. They can be either termed as gutteral-kha or soft-sa. Post-Consonantal forms

We see here the application of aa, i, ii, u, R, e, oi, o, au to the consonant ka. Note that the consonant R also has a post consonantal form. Combinatorial forms: juktakhars

These are some examples of the juktakhars used in the Assamese script. The following list shows the combinations represented by each letter of the image.

l+l h+b d+b d+dh
n+d l+p n+n t+t
k+t p+l x+m
x+t n+t n+h n+m
m+m x+m j+niya p+t

Example Here is an example of the composition of an Assamese text in Latex and the output produced by it. This is the Assamese national song O' Mor Aaponaar Dex written by Lakhminath Bezbarua. (

Listen to the song) The song in Roman alphabet

a' mor Aponaar dex \
a' mor cikuNI dex \
enekHan xuwalaa enekHan Xufalaa \
enekHan maramar dex \
a' mor XurIyaa maat \
aXamar XuwadI maat \
pRItHiwIr ka'to bicaari janamto \
nopowaa karileo paat \
a' mor opajaa THaai \
a' mor aXamI aai \
caai laoNN ebaar mukHani tomaar \
hepaah mor palowaa naai \

 

Notes: As you can see the Roman text version is easily readable except that we have to use small and capital letters to distinguish "dantya" and "murdhanya". Also capitals are used for some alphabet (e.g. 'tha') which do not have single alphabet equivalent in Roman. The complete font will have a rule set defining how to form 'juktakhars'. Status and Availability The font set is not completed yet. Once all the juktakhars are prepared, the pre-processor will be tested. As far as the possible completion date, no idea. Also the availability criterion (charged/free/restricted/unrestricted) once the font is ready for use is yet to be finalized.

The following people has contributed in the development of the font: