Devanagari alphabet

The Devanagari or Devanāgarī is a writing abugida used to write Nepal and various languages of India – including Sanskrit , the bhili, the bhoshpurí, the BijaRi, the cashmere , the Hindi , Konkani, Marathi, the Nepalese and sindhí- . [1]


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  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Writing and pronunciation
  • 3 Origins
  • 4 Principles
  • 5 Sources


The Spanish word “devanagari” (pronounced grave: / devanagári /) [2] comes from the Sanskrit devanāgarī (pronounced sobreesdrújulo : / devánagari /), which means ‘of the divine city’, being deva: ‘god’ or ‘divine’, and nāgarī: ‘urban, of the city’, a feminine vridhi adjective derived from nágara: ‘city’. [3] Possibly it refers to the fact that it was created in some city that called itself ‘divine’. [3]

Both words, devá and nágari, form a compound term (tatpurusha) , which could be translated as’ divine urban [writing], which probably identified Devanagari within a larger group of Nágari (‘urban’) writings .

The Nagari script could have been an early form of Devánagari, appearing before the 13th century as an eastern variant of the Gupta script , and contemporary with the Sharada , its western variant. The Sanskrit name devánagari could then be understood as ‘divine (or excellent) form of the Nágari script’.

Writing and pronunciation

  • devanāgarī, in the AITS system (international alphabet for the transliteration of Sanskrit ). [3]
  • देवनागरी, in the Devanagari script of Sanskrit.[3]
  • Pronunciation: / devánagari / in ancient Sanskrit. [3]

In the Spanish language, the Royal Spanish Academy recommends the written English use of the term: devanagari (which in Spanish is pronounced as a plain word : devanagári and is consequently written “devanagari”), although in the proposed etymology it accepts the probable acute use or Sanskrit esdrújulo : devanâgarí (a free version of the AITS term devanāgarī ). [two]

In Sanskrit, tatpurusha compounds are generally stressed according to the stress of the first word. [3] For example: devá + nágari = devánagari . The only accentuates tatpurusha that is doubly Brihaspati (of bríhas + PATI ). [3]


The Devanagari script emerged around AD 1200 from the Siddham script, gradually replacing the Sharada script (which remained in parallel usage in Kashmir ). [1]

Both are immediate descendants of the Gupta script , which arose from the Brahmi script, which probably arose in the 3rd century BC. n. and. The descendants of the Brahmi form the Brahmic family, including the national alphabets of many other languages ​​of India .


Devanagari is an alphabet of the type called abugida: in which each consonant has an inherent vowel [a] that can be changed with different vowel signs. [4] Most consonants can be joined to one or more others, thereby suppressing the inherent vowel. The resulting shape is known as a ligature. [1]

Devanagari is written from left to right. [5]

In Sanskrit the words were written together, without spaces, so that the top bar was continuous, although there were certain exceptions to this rule. The rupture of the upper line marks pauses of breathing. In modern languages, word spacing is used. Devanagari is not case sensitive. [5]

The devanagari has 12 svara (pure sounds, or vowels ) and 34 vyanjana (ornate sounds, consonants ). [6]

An akshara (syllable) is formed from the combination of one or no vyanjana and one or more svara , and represents the phonetic unit of the shabda (word). To write an akshara , standard diacritic modifiers representing the svara are applied to the vyanjana . [7]

The svara and vyanjana are logically arranged and grouped for study or recitation. [7] Thus, the pure sounds, ‘a’, ‘i’, ‘u’ and their elongated versions (‘aa’, ‘ii’, ‘uu’) are followed by the combined forms (‘ae’, ‘ai ‘,’ o ‘,’ ou ‘), nasal (‘ .m ‘) and aspirated (‘ .h ‘). [7] The vyanjana themselves are grouped into 6 groups (rows) of 5 members (columns). The first five rows progress in the velar, palatal, retroflex, dental and labial directions, in correspondence with the use of the tongue towards increasingly external parts when making the sound. The vyanjanaremaining are technically voiced, sibilant, or widely used as joint forms. For each row or group, the columns logically advance towards softer sounds, paired with the aspirated shapes, and ending with the nasal shape for that group.

The pronunciation of Sanskrit written in Devanagari has some ambiguity: it is not known whether the v after consonant (such as dv , kv , mv ) was pronounced as [b] or as [u]. [1] Each Sanskrit word is considered to be written in only one way (discounting modern typographic variants used to represent joint forms). [7] However, certain conventions have been accepted in modern languages; for example, the truncation of the vowel form of the last consonant when speaking, even though it continues to be written in the full form. There are also some modern conventions about how to write foreign words in Devanagari. [7]

Some Sanskrit texts and mantras are typically written with additional diacritical marks above and below the akshara to denote pitch and tempo of the sound, to ensure accurate reproduction of the sound.


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