Over the years, Sindhi has been written using numerous different scripts such as Khudabadi or Gurmukhi. Today, three scripts prevail: Arabic, Devanagari and Roman.
The Arabic Script
The Arabic script was made official for writing the Sindhi language in the 19th century, during British rule. The script is read right-to-left and is based on the script used to write Urdu, although, due to the distinct sounds present in Sindhi, it had to be augmented with additional letters and digraphs. At present, the Arabic script is considered the standard script for writing Sindhi, being official in India and in Pakistan.
The Devanagari Script
Following the partition of India, and likely due to a number of factors such as the prevalence of Hindu Sindhis in post-partition India, their preference for the Devanagari script and the fact that the script was already in use for many other Indian languages such as Hindi or Marathi, the Government of India made the Devanagari script co-official (together with the Arabic script) for writing Sindhi. The Devanagari script also had to be modified to be able to represent the implosive consonants unique to the Sindhi language.
The Devanagari script is most distinctively recognised by the horizontal line on top of each word. A continuous line groups syllables into a single word. Each syllable is made up of either a vowel, or a consonant and a vowel. Where a vowel is not specified, the consonant takes the अ vowel automatically, known as the schwa vowel, e.g. क would be transliterated as ka rather than just k. Each letter in the Devanagari script has a single unique sound. Whereas in English the letter a may be used to represent various different sounds (ambulance, acre, water, etc.), the Devanagari अ can only be used to represent the a sound as heard in the word America. There is no distinction between capital and small-case letters.
Sindhi Devanagari has 10 vowels and 43 consonants. These 43 consonants include the four implosive consonants unique to Sindhi, amongst the Indo-Aryan languages, and created by adding a diacritical bar underneath the standard consonant: ग॒ , ज॒ , ड॒/द॒ and ब॒. The tables in the section 'Sindhi Letters' below list all the letters used in Sindhi Devanagari together with their IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) equivalents.
The Roman Script
The most contemporary of the three, although the Roman script is not officially recognised as a script for writing Sindhi in any country, it has gained popularity amongst Sindhi speakers worldwide due to two factors:
English-centric technology. Most mobile phones and computers these days are sold pre-configured to input and display English text, or text in languages that use the Roman/Latin alphabet. Even in India, the most widely used computer keyboard throughout the country is the American English keyboard. This makes it difficult to input Devanagari or Arabic text without first going through device settings and learning a new keyboard layout and, even then, there is no guarantee that all other devices will be able to correctly render these scripts without having to download additional software packages. The Latin alphabet is, no doubt, the most widespread alphabet at present. Using the Roman script for Sindhi allows it to be read and written on the majority of devices without the need for any special settings.
Lack of formal Sindhi education opportunities amongst the Sindhi diaspora. The Sindhi people who left their native land following the partition of India and settled in countries around the world have helped spread the language by teaching it to their descendants. However, these usually only learn to speak Sindhi from their family and receive no formal education in the language; the majority of the descendants is therefore unable to read or write Sindhi in either of the two officially recognised scripts. The use of the Roman script for Sindhi allows the newer generations of foreign-born Sindhis to write to each other in the language.
Since the Roman script is not official for Sindhi, there is no universally-accepted way of representing the phonemes of the Sindhi language using this script. The Government of India adopted the Hunterian system for transliterating Devanagari into Roman text. The Hunterian system in its original form, however, does not feature any diacritics. This would force the 53 letters of the Sindhi Devanagari script onto only 26 letters of the Latin alphabet causing much ambiguity, e.g. the letter n would have to represent the sounds ŋ, ɲ, ɳ and n of the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) when each of these has a distinct letter in the Sindhi Devanagari alphabet. This website, therefore, uses a modified Hunterian transliteration system featuring diacritical marks to make each Roman letter correspond directly to one of the 53 letters of the Sindhi Devanagari alphabet. The tables in the section 'Sindhi Letters' below list all the letters used in Sindhi Devanagari together with their transliteration to the Roman script using the modified Hunterian system as well as their IPA equivalents.
The following tables include the letters of the Sindhi Devanagari alphabet together with their transliteration to the Roman script and the equivalent letters of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).
The Roman letters in the tables follow the Hunterian transliteration system, officially adopted by the Government of India for the transliteration of the Devanagari script, with the addition of diacritical marks to avoid ambiguity between similar letters.
|independent||with consonant (क)|
|ड॒ or द॒||d̤||ɗ|