Nagar Barap

Nagar Barap
Nāgarī Barap [1]
Hortus Malabaricus by Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit, and Appu Bhat.
Type abugida
Languages Konkani
Time period c. 2nd century CE–present [2]
Parent systems
Proto-Sinaitic alphabet
Child systems Devanagari, Eastern Nāgarī, Nandi Nāgarī
ISO 15924 Deva, 315
Direction Left-to-right
Unicode alias Devanagari
Unicode range U+0900–U+097F and U+A8E0–U+A8FF
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.

Nāgar Barap (English: /ˈnɑːɡərbərəp/;[citation needed] नागर बरप Nāgar BarapNāgar नागर 'urban' and barap बरप writing) is an abugida alphabet of India. It was the predecessor of the Devanagari script It is written from left to right, does not have distinct letter cases, and is recognizable (along with most other North Indic scripts, with the Gujarati script being an exception) by a horizontal line that runs along the top of full letters.



Nāgar Barap is part of the Brahmic family of scripts of India, Nepal, Tibet, and South-East Asia.[3] It is a descendant of the Gupta script, along with Siddham and Sharada.[3] Eastern variants of Gupta called Nāgarī are first attested from the 8th century; from c. 1200 these gradually replaced Siddham, which survived as a vehicle for Tantric Buddhism in East Asia, and Sharada, which remained in parallel use in Kashmir. An early version of Devanagari is visible in the Kutila inscription of Bareilly dated to Vikram Samvat 1049 (i.e. 992 CE), which demonstrates the emergence of the horizontal bar to group letters belonging to a word.[4]

Early epigraphy

  • The earliest inscription in Konkani found in the village of Aravalem, in Goa dated back in the Gupta period in Brahmi script, ascribed to the 2nd Century AD. It reads:
Shachipurachya Shiraasi

on the top of Shacipura.[5] The script is late Brahmi.

  • Another inscription in Devanagari, of Shilahara King Aaparditya of the year 1166 AD says:
आत्तां जो कोंणुयिरे शासनोंळपीं तेच्या वेढ्यात देवाची भाल सक्तुम्बी आपडें तेची मांय गाढवें

which could be transliterated as Ata tu jo konuyyre shasnolpi techya vedyanth devachi bhal sakutmbi apadem, techi may gadhavem

  • The inscription found at Shravanabelagola mentions:
Chavundaraje karaviyale, gangaraje sutatale karaviyale

Chamundaraja got it done, Gangaraja got it done all around

Konkani Inscription with ‘Maee Shenvi’ of 1413 AD, Nagueshi, Goa.
  • However, most of the other stone and copper-plate inscriptions found in Goa and Konkan are written in an amalgam of Konkani and old-Marathi, written in Nagari as well as Goy-kanadi script. The grammar and the base of such texts is in Konkani, whereas very few verbs are in Marathi.[7] One such stone inscription or shilalekh is found at the Nageshi temple in Goa (dating back to the year 1463 AD) mentions that the (then) ruler of Goa, Devaraja Gominam, had gifted land to the Nagueshi Maharudra temple when Nanjanna Gosavi was the religious head or the Pratihasta of the state. It mentions words like, kullgga,kulaagra, naralel, tambavem, tilel.[8]



The Konkani language has 16 basic vowels (excluding equal number of long vowels), 36 consonants, 5 semi-vowels, 3 sibilants, 1 aspirate and many diphthongs. Like the other Indo-Aryan languages, it has both long and short vowels and syllables with long vowels may appear to be stressed. Different types of nasal vowels are a special feature of the Konkani language.[9]

  • The palatal and alveolar stops are affricates. The palatal glides are truly palatal but other the consonants in the palatal column are alveopalatal.[10]
  • The voiced/voiceless contrasts is found only in the stops and affricates. The affricates are all voiceless and the sonorants are all voiced.[10]
  • The initial vowel-syllable is shortened after the aspirates and the fricatives. Many speakers substitute unaspirated consonants for aspirates.[10]
  • Aspirates in non-initial position are rare and only occur in careful speech. Palatalisation/non palatisation is found in all Obstruents, except for palatal and alveolars. Where a palatalised alveolar is expected, a palatal is found instead. In case of sonorants, only unaspirated consonants show this contrast, and among the glides inly labeo-velar glides exhibit this. Vowels show a contrast between oral and nasal ones[10]


Vowels in Konkani language

One of the most distinguishing features of Konkani phonology is the use of ɵ, the close-mid central vowel, instead of the schwa as used in Hindi and Marathi.

Whereas most Indian languages use only one of the three front vowels, represented by the Devanagari grapheme ए (IPA:e), Konkani uses three: ए -e, ऍ-ɛ and ऎ-æ.

Nasalizations exist for all vowels except for ʌ.


  Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Alveopalatal Velar Glottal



    s   ɕ   h
Nasals m

ɲ ŋ  
Liquids ʋ
  l ɾ
ɭ ɽ j    


Vowels and Vowel Marks

Independent form Romanised As diacritic with प Independent form Romanised As diacritic with प
a ā पा
i पि ī पी
u पु ū पू
पृ पॄ
पॢ पॣ
ê पॅ
e पॆ ē पे
o पॊ ō पो
ai पै au पौ


Voicing अघोष घोष अघोष घोष
Aspiration अल्पप्राण महाप्राण अल्पप्राण महाप्राण अल्पप्राण महाप्राण
/ɕ, ʃ/
च़ tsa
/ t͡ʃ/
ज़ dza
झ़ dzha
फ़ fa

Separation of e - ē and o - ō

Earlier, Dravidian languages like Indo-Aryan languages, did not make a distinction between the two. The addition of extra signs for /eː/ and /oː/ is attributed to the Italian missionary Constanzo Beschi Vīramāmunivar (1680–1774), who first added it to Tamil. It later passed onto Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and lastly to the Konkani script. Currently, e, ē, o, ō are transliterated as ऎ, ए, ऒ and ओ respectively.


Schwa Deletion

The IPA symbol for the schwa

The Schwa deletion or Schwa syncope phenomenon plays a crucial role in Konkani and several other Indo-Aryan languages, where schwas implicit in the written scripts of those languages are obligatorily deleted for correct pronunciation.[11][12] Schwa syncope is extremely important in these languages for intelligibility and unaccented speech. It also presents a challenge to non-native speakers and speech synthesis software because the scripts, including Nagar Barap, do not provide indicators of where schwas should be dropped.[13]

This means the schwa ('ə') implicit in each consonant of the script is "obligatorily deleted" at the end of words and in certain other contexts, unlike in Sanskrit. This phenomenon has been termed the "schwa syncope rule" or the "schwa deletion rule" of Konkani. In other words, when a vowel-preceded consonant is followed by a vowel-succeeded consonant, the schwa inherent in the first consonant is deleted.[14] However, this formalization is inexact and incomplete (i.e. sometimes deletes a schwa when it shouldn't or, at other times, fails to delete it when it should), and can yield errors. Schwa deletion is computationally important because it is essential to building text-to-speech software for Konkani.[14] Without the appropriate deletion of schwas, any speech output would sound unnatural.

As a result of schwa syncope, the Konkani pronunciation of many words differs from that expected from a literal Sanskrit-style rendering of Devanagari. For instance, करता is kartā not karatā, आपंयता is āpaytā not āpayatā', वेद is Véd not Véda and मिरसांग is mirsāng not mirasānga.

For instance, the letter sequence ळब is pronounced differently in मळब maḷab sky and मळबाmaḷbār in the sky . While native speakers correctly pronounce the sequences differently in different contexts, non-native speakers and voice-synthesis software can make them "sound very unnatural", making it "extremely difficult for the listener" to grasp the intended meaning.

Vowel nasalization

With some words that contain /n/ or /m/ consonants separated from succeeding consonants by schwas, the schwa deletion process has the effect of nasalizing any preceding vowels. Some examples in Konkani include -

  • jevaṇ=> jenvlo

Konkani Schwa Rules

  1. The final inherent अ is generally omitted. e.g. देव is dēv not dēva.
  2. In a word of three letters ending with a vowel other than the inherent अ the second consonant, if it ends in अ, then the अ of the second consonant is silenced. e.g. चॆरकॊ is cherko not cherako
  3. In a word of four letters ending with a vowel other than the inherent अ the second consonant, if it ends in अ, then the अ of the second consonant is silenced. e.g. उपकार is upkār not upakāra
  4. Verb roots always end in a consonant even if they undergo declination. e.g. आपंव +चॆं= आपंवचॆं, hence we say āpanvchem not āpanvachem, आपंय+ता=आपंयता, hence we say āpanytā not āpanyatā


  1. ^ refer Hortus Malabaricus Certificate where the Devanagari-based script for Konkani is called Nāgarī Barap
  2. ^ The earliest inscription in Konkani found in the village of Aravalem, in Goa (शचिपुराचे शिरसि)
  3. ^ a b Steven Roger Fischer (2004), A history of writing, Reaktion Books, ISBN 9781861891679,, "... an early branch of this, as of the fourth century AD, was the Gupta script, Brahmi's first main daughter ... the Gupta alphabet became the ancestor of most Indic scripts (usually through later Devanagari) ... Nagari, of India's north-west, first appeared around AD 633 ... in the eleventh century, Nagari had become Devanagari, or 'heavenly Nagari', since it was now the main vehicle, out of several, for Sanskrit literature ..." 
  4. ^ Isaac Taylor (2003), History of the Alphabet: Aryan Alphabets, Part 2, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 9780766158474,, "... In the Kutila this develops into a short horizontal bar, which, in the Devanagari, becomes a continuous horizontal line ... three cardinal inscriptions of this epoch, namely, the Kutila or Bareli inscription of 992, the Chalukya or Kistna inscription of 945, and a Kawi inscription of 919 ... the Kutila inscription is of great importance in Indian epigraphy, not only from its precise date, but from its offering a definite early form of the standard Indian alphabet, the Devanagari ..." 
  5. ^ In the whole inscription only this sentence is legible.
  6. ^ The above inscription has been quite controversial, and touted as being old-Marathi. But the distinctive instrumental viyalem ending of the verb is the hallmark of Konkani language, and the verb sutatale or sutatalap is not prevalent in Marathi. So linguists and historians such as S.B. Kulkarni of Nagpur University, Dr V.P. Chavan (former vice-president of the Anthropological society of Mumbai), and others have thus concluded that it is Konkani.
  7. ^ D'Souza, Edwin. V.J.P. Saldanha. pp. 3–5. 
  8. ^ Da Cruz, Antonio (1974). Goa: men and matters. s.n., 1974. pp. 321. 
  9. ^ Bhat, V. Nithyanantha (in English. Konkani). The Konkani language: historical and linguistic perspectives. Sukṛtīndra Oriental Research Institute. pp. 43, 44. 
  10. ^ a b c d Cardona, George (2007). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. pp. 1088. ISBN 041577294X, 9780415772945. 
  11. ^ Larry M. Hyman, Victoria Fromkin, Charles N. Li (1988 (Volume 1988, Part 2)), Language, speech, and mind, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0415003113,, "... The implicit /a/ is not read when the symbol appears in word-final position or in certain other contexts where it is obligatorily deleted (via the so-called schwa-deletion rule which plays a crucial role in Konkani word phonology ..." 
  12. ^ Indian linguistics, Volume 37, Linguistic Society of India, 1976,, "... the history of the schwa deletion rule in Gujarati has been examined. The historical perspective brings out the fact that schwa deletion is not an isolated phenomenon; the loss of final -a has preceded the loss of medial -a-; ..." 
  13. ^ Tej K. Bhatia (1987), A history of the Hindi grammatical tradition: Hindi-Hindustani grammar, grammarians, history and problems, BRILL, ISBN 9004079246,, "... Hindi literature fails as a reliable indicator of the actual pronunciation because it is written in the Devanagari script ... the schwa syncope rule which operates in Hindi ..." 
  14. ^ a b Monojit Choudhury, Anupam Basu and Sudeshna Sarkar (July 2004), "A Diachronic Approach for Schwa Deletion in Indo Aryan Languages", Proceedings of the Workshop of the ACL Special Interest Group on Computational Phonology (SIGPHON) (Association for Computations Linguistics),, "... schwa deletion is an important issue for grapheme-to-phoneme conversion of IAL, which in turn is required for a good Text-to-Speech synthesizer ..." 

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