The Dravidian Scripts

Authored by: William Bright

The Dravidian Languages

Print publication date:  December  1997
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415100236
eBook ISBN: 9780203424353
Adobe ISBN: 9781136911644

10.4324/9780203424353.ch2

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Abstract

The major Dravidian scripts used today are those associated with the Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil languages. All these are phonologically based, and are written from left to right. Historically, they derive from a South Indian branch of the Brahmi script, used in India from around 250 BCE to write Pali (an Indo-Aryan language) as the medium for Buddhist inscriptions, carved at the orders of the Emperor Ashoka. The Brahmi script is also the ancestor of scripts used in North India to the present time, such as Devanagari (used for Sanskrit, Hindi, Nepali and Marathi); Bengali (used for Bengali and Assamese); Sinhalese (used for the Sinhala language of Sri Lanka), as well as Tibetan and many scripts of Southeast Asia, such as Burmese, Siamese (Thai), Laotian and Khmer (Cambodian).

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