Saturday, 3 September 2011

Romanised Hindi / Urdu - Roesjil's Transliteration Scheme

The use of the both romanised Hindi and Urdu is widespread in South-Asia. For Hindi alone there are already over half a dozen transliteration schemes devised. The main trouble with most of these romanisation methods is that they either use diatrics or look ugly. Here you see for yourself:

kal jab unho~n ne mujhe ye batAyA ke vo sa.nskrit bhAshA kA gyAn rakhte hai~n to mai~n ulajha geyA (ITRANS)

Kal jab unhoṅ ne mujhe ye batāyā ke vo saṃskrit bhāśā kā gyān rakhte haiṅ to maiṅ ulajha geyā. (IAST)

I was shocked when he told me yesterday he knew Sanskrit.

The second is more beautiful. On the downside, it is not easy to type these diatrics while texting - the preferred mode of communication in India and Pakistan. For this reason many turn to anglicised romanisation. The main disadvantage of this system is that it doesn't differentiate between retroflex and dental consonants and both nasalised 'n' and regular 'n' are represented by 'n'. Therefore 'tota' could mean 'a parrot' or 'a splinter' and 'man' could be inferred as either 'pride' or 'mother'. Most of the time the meaning is clear from the context but that's not always the case. To overcome these drawbacks, here I propose a new romanisation scheme which doesn't use diatrics and is more aesthetically pleasing to look at than ITRANS.


The vowels are a, e, i, o and u

A, i and u can be either short long.

patta = leaf (not pattaa)
Abhijit = a Hindu name (not Abhijeet)
Kulu-Manali = a mountain resort town in North India (not Kuloo-Manaalee)

In case of e and o, these diphthongs are used:

kaid = imprisonment (not ked)
fauran = immediately (not foran)


With these few exceptions, the consonants have been left untouched:
T = त,ت   
Tz = ट, ٹ
Th = थ, تھا
Tzh = ठ, ٹھا
D = द, د
Dh = ध, دھا
Dz = ढ, ڈ
N = न, ن
N' = nasalised न, ن
Nh = ण, ن
R = र, ر
Rh = ड, ڑ

Therefore the above sentence in this new scheme would be:

Kal jab unhon' ne mujhe bataya ke vo sanskrit ka geyan rakhte hain' to main' ulajh geya.


Here is a sample text in Hindi/Urdu in Roesjil's transliteration scheme:

Dr. Manmohan Singh Bharat ke vartaman pradhanmantri hain'. Ve ek kushal rajneta ke sath-sath ek acce vidvan, arath-shashtri aur vicharak bhi hain'. (Hindi)

Dr. Manmohan Singh Bharat ke chalte vazir-e-azam hain'. Vo ek hunarmand syasatdan ke sath-sath ek umda skolar, ekonomistz aur makul bhi hain'. (Urdu)

Dr. Manmohan Singh is the current prime minister of India. Besides being a skilled politician, he is also a scholar, economist and intellectual.