Indic writing systems


Indic writing systems

Set of several dozen scripts used now or in the past to write many South and Southeast Asian languages. Aside from the Kharoshthi (Kharosthi) script, used c. 4th century BC–3rd century AD, all extant writing of the region descends from the Brahmi script, first attested in the Middle Indo-Aryan rock inscriptions of Ashoka (3rd century BC). In the first six centuries after Ashoka, Brahmi appears to have diversified into northern and southern variants. The northern types gave rise to the so-called Gupta scripts (4th–5th centuries), which are ultimately the progenitors of the Devanagari script (now used to write Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali), the Bengali and Oriya scripts, and Gurmukhi, the script of the Sikh scriptures, used also for modern Punjabi in India. The southern types gave rise to the Sinhalese, Telugu, and Kannada scripts on the one hand, and to the Pallava script on the other. The latter formed the basis of numerous other scripts, including those of the Tamil and Malayalam languages, a host of Southeast Asian scripts (e.g., those used to write Mon, Burmese, Khmer, Thai, and Lao), and a number of Austronesian languages.

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