Conceptual Preliminaries


Language is primarily speech; writing is secondary though of great cultural importance. What is writing a record of? Not so much of speech sounds as of a text composed in a language. The writing system can be plugged into the language system proper at any various points:

(A) Stenography: proto-writing, sense-writing.


(B) Logography : proto-writing, grammar-writing.


(C) Phonography: syllable-writing segment-writing, feature-writing.


A given systems may be and usually is mixed, but with one mode predominating. If segment-writing predominates (as in Devanagari) we call it an alphabetic system. Further, a writingsystems operates at two levels-a lower level of script or the calligraphic systems and a higher level of spelling or the orthographic system. The classification given earlier is essentially an orthographic one. The same script may serve many languages and the same spelling may be rendered in many scripts. The technology and the ethnography and folklore of writing will concern us only in so far as they affect the writing system proper. While we are very intimately identified with our language, the same is not true or is less true of our writing systems. We are moreover more self-conscious about the latter. Consequently writing may fall out of step with language and it may be reformed more readily both in respect of script and of spelling. The reform may be radical or piecemeal.


Script Reform


The language of India have been subject to similar pressures towards script reform. Marathi is one of those that have responded more vigorously. These pressures are:


(A)              Spread of communication-density and extension through speech and time. (1) Inter-language.(2) Intra-language.(3) Standardization for printing and typewriting and for teaching.


(B)              Ease of operation at all phases, (1) Ease of learning. (2) Ease of transmission and retransmission (reading out dictation, copying directly or from memory). Pressures militating against reform are also not waiting.


(A)              Attitudes or their lack, (1) Inertia and indifference. (2) Conservatism(3) Group-feelings. (4) Emotional attachment.

(B)              Vested Interests: newspapers rather than book publishers have favoured reform.

(C) Cost considerations. (1) Cost in technology and education for any change over.

(2) Loss through older material becoming unusable.

Turning to Marathi, some observations can be made at the outset.(1) One language one script . Principle asserted. itself and made for the loss of Modi and the dominance of Devanagari (Balabodh). (2) Adoption of Western customs of spacing of Western customs of spacing and punctuations was universal.(3)Unlike Tamil and Telugu. Marathi has resisted the use of the so-called Arabic numerals as used in the West, but has adopted vulgar and decimal fractions in favour of the Reghi fractions ( 1 or 1.25) rather than the Reghi version (/) Before we turn to specific reforms let us point out that Marathi shares the Devanagari script with other South Asian languages like Hindi. Nepali, and of course Sanskrit .


The script reform proposals are largely a matter of individual efforts in second quarter of the 20th century. V.D Savarkar. Kaka Kalelkar. And Vinoba Bhave are some of the prominent names. More recently there has been governmental effort.


The proposals can be reviewed under the following heads:


(1)               Providing for distinctions so far not provided: For : thus an were proposed and accepted for the open e and open o vowels distinct from close e and close o. Marathi does it for words assimilated from English like э ---distinction proposed by some between blade-and-palate versions of c. j jh has not been widely accepted.

(2)               Removal of regional variation: There are certain difference between Devanagari as used for Marathi and as used for Hindi:

Marathi :

Hindi : 1 5 8 9 5 8

a ch jh kṣ j


The following adjustments ensuring uniformity have been more or less widely accepted. Respectively-- 1 5 89


(3) Removal of minor anomalies : (a) The conjunct is sought to be replaced by the more transparent Some have accepted it. (b) The following consonant-vowel ligatures are anomalous Some replace them by Many carelessly write or even print for both and eliminate an available distinction. (c) In consonant-consonant ligatures the consonant r has many variants as seen in: rka, kra ry (distinct from ryy) and rh (distinct from rhh) dra. Thus, there are basically three forms independently and in ligatures. Some proposed that (with the ligature form -) be used

everywhere: etc.


This has not been widely accepted. (d) The post consonantal form for be used everywherethus, eliminating , in favour of in favour of Many have accepted this. The proposal to use for ˍ was two modes of consonant-consonant ligatures: with some one can write either to top-to bottom or left-to-right (write) with some, one can write only top-to-bottom () ; with some one can only go left-to-right ( ) The reformists has argued that. In view of the overall left-to-right direction of the line. The top-to-bottom of the line, the top-to-bottom ligatures should be avoided. Thus most persons especially of the younger generation now write and not a few persons especially of the younger generation now write and not a few persons write and not a few persons write or write in place of the traditional left-to-write (which often gets confused with the traditional handwriting and smaller print). (1) Some have proposed and in place of and to bring bout the following proportionality ˍ = : = : (g) ligature some consonants optionally base them on their older forms: by the side of (as in ) by side of (already touched upon ). Many now prefer to ֓ to


(4) Removal of major anomalies (affecting a large portion of writing) : (a)Some seek to climinate top-to-bottom and right-to-left consonant vowel ligatures of the type , , ׍. The use of is now common. With others they are alternate proposals such as for None of them is acceptable. (b) Some seek to have a single form for each vowel. Thus in stead of the traditional pairs /, / / , some propose , , throughout (yielding , for example). The latter proposal have found favour with some persons. (c) Some prefer for though could be interpreted as the unattested + .) (d) Of the optional forms or , or the first in each pair is now preferred as less likely to be confused with and (c) Some have proposed that aspirates be replaced by consonant plus lt sequences. (1) Some have a sought to replace by ֵ ֲ, This has not found acceptance,(g) Some have sought to replace both for by . This has not found acceptance.(h) Some have sought to replace the three post vocals ̐: shapes on line with the other letters. This has not found acceptance. Problems of specific to each Indian language. The pressures that operated in the case of Marathi are:

(A)  Spread of communication.(1) Greater self-consciousness.(1) Greater self-consciousness about the treatment of Sanskrit . Perso-Arabic, English and other loanwords and of proper names.(2) Inter-language : emergence of a standard from among the dialects. (3) Standraozation for teaching.

(B)  Ease of operation. Ease of learning and democratization of literary culture; spread of literary.


Pressures militating against reform are also not wanting.

(A) Attitudes or their lack. (1) Inertia. (2) Conservatism.(3) Emotional attachment.

(B)  Cost considerations: (1) Cost of any charge-over.(2) Loss through order material becoming unsable. The spelling reforms are as much individual efforts are as much individual efforts as institutional achievements. Sane. Patwardhan. N.C Kelkar and Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad are some of the important names. The Government has played its part too.

The proposals can be reviewed under the following heads:(1) Ansvāra.(2) Length of i u, (3) Use of virāma sign with final consonants. (4) Use of y.v as glides (thevuna. deuna).(5) Spacing problems (bar ā ca asbar ā ca barās ā as barā sā).

Broad Principles for script and spelling reform are the following: General: (1) Consistency of the plug in principle. (2) Fewest changes so that those brought up in the old systems can learn the new one with ease and those brought up in the new system learn the old one with case so as to cope with the old material; continuity of communication; argument for piecemeal reform; Script reform (1) Economy and ease of strokes. (2) The shapes are suffeicently distinctive.(3) Consistency of shape and value correlations. Spelling reform: (1) Identity of phoneme through diatopic and diachronic variations. (2) Identity of morpheme and lexical word through variation. (3) Predictabillity of pronunciation from spelling at least if not that of spelling from pronunciation also. (4) More formal, less casual style be the norm; it lends to have more distinctions than the less formal, more casual style.