Tracing the Identity and Ascertaining the Nature of Brahmi-derived Devanagari Script

Keywords: orthography, Brahmi, Devanagari, akshara, alphasyllabary, alphabetic


Current research exploits the orthographic design of Brahmi-derived scripts (also called Indic scripts), particularly the Devanagari script. Earlier works on orthographic nature of Brahmi-derived scripts fail to create a consensus among epigraphists, historians or linguists, and thus have been identified by various names, like semi-syllabic, subsyllabic, semi-alphabetic, alphasyllabary or abugida. On the contrary, this paper argues that Brahmi-derived scripts should not be categorized as scripts with overlapping features of alphabetic and syllabic properties as these scripts are neither alphabetic nor syllabic. Historical evolution and linguistic properties of Indic scripts, particularly Devanagari, ascertain the need for a new categorization of its own and, thus preferably merit a unique descriptor. This paper investigates orthographic characteristics of the Brahmi-derived Devanagari script, current trends in research pertaining to the Devanagari script along with other Indic scripts and the implications of these findings for literacy development in Indic writing systems.


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Author Biographies

Krishna Kumar PANDEY, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee

Senior Research Fellow

Smita JHA, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee

Associate Professor


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How to Cite
PANDEY, K. K., & JHA, S. (2019). Tracing the Identity and Ascertaining the Nature of Brahmi-derived Devanagari Script. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 9(1), 59-73.
Research Articles