Kannada script for English ಕಾನ್ನಾದಾ ಸ್ಕರಿಪ್ತ ಫೋರ ಇಙಗ್ಲಿಶ

The ‘Look of Disapproval’ ಠ_ಠ is a popular emoticon on the Internet that also happens to use a letter from the Kannada script. As someone who enjoys reading and learning new things, I found myself reading about Kannada script. As I read more about it, I noticed that Kannada had a lot of letters, like the Thai and Burmese scripts I had adapted previously, and supported consonant clusters too. These are features that, in my view, made Kannada script especially suitable to adaptation for writing languages like English.

Adaptation process

Most of the English consonants were easily mapped to their Kannada equivalents. As usual though, there are some important differences that can seem weird at first.

Kannada script has separate letters for retroflex, aspirated and breathy voiced consonants like ಟ ಡ ಥ ಧ ಫ ಭ. On the other hand, English doesn’t have either retroflex or breathy voiced consonants, but quite a bit of fricatives like /f/, /v/, /θ/, /ð/, /z/, /ʃ/ and /ʒ/. In this adaptation, I used some of these extra consonant letters to represent the English fricatives:

  • ಫ /pʰ/ -> /f/
  • ಭ /bʱ/ -> /v/
  • ಟ /ʈ/ -> /θ/
  • ಡ /ɖ/ -> /ð/
  • ಧ /dʱ/ -> /z/
  • ಶ /ɕ/ -> /ʃ/
  • ಢ /ɖʱ/ -> /ʒ/

As in many other Indic scripts, each letter in the Kannada script has an ‘inherent vowel’ that is pronounced if standing on its own, e.g. /ka/ = ಕ, and removing the vowel requires an additional diacritic. In my adaptation, I have decided to get rid of the inherent vowel thing altogether (as with the Thai and Burmese script adaptations) because I reckon that it adds an additional layer of complexity. Also, the diacritics for representing final -h and -m sounds have been repurposed to represent English vowels not present in Kannada.

Letters

Consonants ಕೊನ್ಸೊನೆನ್ತಸ

/p/ (port)/b/ (born)/f/ (free)/v/ (van)/m/ (muse)
/t/ (tree)/d/ (drive)/θ/ (thank)/ð/ (the)/n/ (new)
/k/ (call)/g/ (get)/x/ (loch)/ɣ/ /ŋ/ (sing)
/s/ (soon)/z/ (zoo)/ʃ/ (share)/ʒ/ (azure).
/tʃ/ (change)/dʒ/ (joke)...
/ɹ/ (run)/l/ (laugh)/h/ (house)/w/ (way)/j/ (yell)

Conjunct consonants

Kannada script allows a 2nd consonant letter to go under another letter to represent consonant clusters. In Unicode Kannada, this is triggered by putting the virama diacritic ್ between the consonant letters.

In the following table, I use the letter for /k/ ಕ as the 1st letter for demonstration purposes – in practice, any letter can be used.

/kp/ ಕ್ಪ/kb/ ಕ್ಬ/kf/ ಕ್ಫ/kv/ ಕ್ಭ/km/ ಕ್ಮ
/kt/ ಕ್ತ/kd/ ಕ್ದ/kθ/ ಕ್ಟ/kð/ ಕ್ಡ/kn/ ಕ್ನ
/kk/ ಕ್ಕ/kg/ ಕ್ಗ/kx/ ಕ್ಖ/kɣ/ ಕ್ಘ/kŋ/ ಕ್ಙ
/ks/ ಕ್ಸ/kz/ ಕ್ಧ/kʃ/ ಕ್ಶ/kʒ/ ಕ್ಢ.
/ktʃ/ ಕ್ಚ/kdʒ/ ಕ್ಜ...
/kl/ ಕ್ಲ/kɹ/ ಕ್ರ/kh/ ಕ್ಹ/kw/ ಕ್ವ/kj/ ಕ್ಯ

Vowels ಭೌಎಲ್ಸ

Vowels come in 2 forms: the independent form, which is used for vowels beginning a syllable, and the diacritic form, which attaches to the previous consonant. In Kannada script, many of the diacritics merge with the ‘swoosh’ stroke found on most consonant letters.

Independent forms ಇನ್ದಿಪೇನ್ದೆನ್ತ ಫೊರ್ಮಸ

/a/~/ʌ/ (sun)/æ/ (can)
/ə/~/ɜ/ (sure)/ɛ/~/e/ (red)
/ɪ/ (bid)/i/ (bead)
/ɔ/ (pot)/ɔː/ ಒಂ (call)
/ʊ/ (pull)/uː/ (pool)

Diacritic forms ದೈಎಕ್ರಿತಿಕ ಫೊರ್ಮಸ

/a/~/ʌ/ (sun)/æ/ ೆಂ (can)
/ə/~/ɜ/ (sure)/ɛ/~/e/ (red)
/ɪ/ ಿ (bid)/i/ (bead)
/ɔ/ (pot)/ɔː/ ೊಂ (call)
/ʊ/ (pull)/uː/ (pool)

Diphthongs ದಿಫ್ಟೊಙ್ಸ

Independent forms ಇನ್ದಿಪೇನ್ದೆನ್ತ ಫೊರ್ಮಸ

/aɪ/ (side)/aʊ/ (now)
/ɔɪ/ ಒಃ (toy)/oʊ/ (dough)
/eɪ/ ಏಃ (say)/ɪə/ ಯೆ (hear)
/ʊə/, /wə/ ವೆ (tour)/ju/ ಯು (news)

Diacritic forms ದೈಎಕ್ರಿತಿಕ ಫೊರ್ಮಸ

/aɪ/ (side)/aʊ/ (now)
/ɔɪ/ ೊಃ (toy)/oʊ/ (dough)
/eɪ/ ೇಃ (say)/ɪə/ ್ಯೆ (hear)
/ʊə/, /wə/ ್ವೆ (tour)/ju/ ್ಯು (news)

Triphthongs ತ್ರಿಫ್ಟೊಙ್ಸ

Independent forms ಇನ್ದಿಪೇನ್ದೆನ್ತ ಫೊರ್ಮಸ

/aɪə/ ಐಎ (flyer)/aʊə/ ಔಎ (tower)
/jʊə/ ಯುಎ (cure).

Diacritic forms ದೈಎಕ್ರಿತಿಕ ಫೊರ್ಮಸ

/aɪə/ ೈಎ (flyer)/aʊə/ ೌಎ (tower)
/jʊə/ ್ಯುಎ (cure).

Numerals ನ್ಯುಮೆರೆಲ್ಸ

0 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9

Special cases ಸ್ಪೇಶೆಲ ಕೇಃಸೆಸ

The letter for /r/ ರ has a special form when it is the 1st consonant in a consonant cluster: it moves behind the 2nd consonant and assumes a different appearance.

  • /ɹm/ ರ್ಮ
  • /ɹp/ ರ್ಪ

Syllable structure

Like Burmese script, Kannada script allows a consonant to be placed below another consonant, a very useful feature for writing consonant clusters like ‘str’ in a compact manner.

E.g. /stɹɐkt/ = ಸ್ತರಾಕ್ತ (literally st-ra-kt)

Sample texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

ಯುನಿಭೆರ್ಸೆಲ ದಿಕ್ಲೆಂರೇಃಶೆನ ಒಫ ಹ್ಯುಮೆನ ರೈತ್ಸ

ಒಲ ಹ್ಯುಮೆನ ಬೀಙ್ಸ ಅರ ಬೊರ್ನ ಫ್ರೀ ಆನ್ದ ಇಕ್ವೆಲ ಇನ ದಿಗ್ನಿತಿ ಆನ್ದ ರೈತ್ಸ. ಡೇಃ ಅರ ಏನ್ದೌದ ವಿಟ ರೀಧೆನ ಆನ್ದ ಕೊನ್ಶೆನ್ಸ ಆನ್ದ ಶುದ ಆಕ್ತ ತೋಎರ್ದಸ ವಾನ ಎನಾಡೆರ ಇನ ಎ ಸ್ಪಿರಿತ ಒಫ ಬ್ರಾಡೆರ್ಹುದ.
(ಅರ್ತಿಕೆಲ ೧ ಒಫ ಡೆ ಯುನಿಭೆರ್ಸೆಲ ದಿಕ್ಲೆಂರೇಃಶೆನ ಒಫ ಹ್ಯುಮೆನ ರೈತ್ಸ)

Excerpt from a short story I wrote a while ago

For comparison, you can view the original one here.

ಐ ಹೆಂದ ಎ ಸ್ತರೇಃನ್ಜ ದ್ರೀಮ ಡೆಂತ ನೈತ.

ಇನ ಡೆಂತ ದ್ರೀಮ, ಐ ಫೌನ್ದ ಮೈಸೇಲ್ಫ ಎವೇಃಕೆನಿಙ, ಲೈಇಙ ಒನ ಸೊಫ್ತ ಗ್ರೀನ ಗ್ರಾಸ, ಇನ ಎ ಫೆಂನ್ತೆಸಿ ೮-ಬಿತ ವೆರ್ಲದ ಸೆರೌನ್ದೆದ ಬೈ ಕೊಮಪ್ಯುತೆರ್ಸ. ಡೆ ಲುಮಿನೆನ್ಸ ಒಫ ಬ್ಲಿಙ್ಕಿಙ ಮೋದೇಮ್ಸ ಆನ್ದ ವೊಂಮ, ಚ್ಯೆರ್ಫುಲ ಚಿಪ್ತ್ಯುನ ಮ್ಯುಧಿಕ ಫಿಲ್ದ ಡೆ ಏರ. ಒಲ್ಡೋ ಏಭ್ರಿಟಿಙ ಲುಕ್ದ ಬ್ಲೊಕೀ ಆನ್ದ ಸ್ಕವೇರ, ಇತ ಬ್ರೊತ ಮೀ ಬೆಂಕ ತು ಡೋಧ ದೇಃಸ. ಒಫ ಒಲ ಡೆ ಕೊಮಪ್ಯುತೆರ್ಸ ಐ ಸೊಂ, ೧ ಒಫ ಡೇಮ ವೆಧ ಪ್ಲೇಃಇಙ ಮೈ ಫೇಃಭೆರೆತ ಸೊಙ! ಐ ಜಾಮ್ಪ ಆನ್ದ ಲೀಪ ಇನ ಜೊಃ ಓಭೆರ ಡೆ ಸೈತ. ಐ ಡೇನ ಸೊಂ ಮೈ ಹೌಸ, ಆನ್ದ ಐ ಸೇದ “ಹೈ” ತು ಮೈ ಬೇಸ್ತ ಮೇಃತ್ಸ, ಹು ವೆರ ವೇಃತಿಙ ಔತ್ಸೈದ. ವೀ ವೊಂಕ್ದ ತುಗೇಡೆರ, ಹೆಂಭಿಙ ಎ ಚ್ಯೆರಿ ಚೆಂತ ಅಬೌತ ಎ ಕೊಮಪ್ಯುತೆರ ಗೇಃಮ ಐ ವೆಧ ವೆರ್ಕಿಙ ಒನ ಎರ್ಲ್ಯೆರ.

“ಸೋ ವಾತ್ಸ ಡೆಂತ ಕುಲ ಗೇಃಮ ಗೊನಾ ಬಿ ಎಬೌತ, ಏಃ?” ವಾನ ಒಫ ಡೇಮ ಅಸ್ಕದ.
“ಇಫ ಯು ಲೆಭ್ದ ಮಾರಿಓ, ಯುಲ ಲೆಭ ಡಿಸ!” ಐ ಸೇದ.
“ಒಸೆಮ!!! ಕಾನ್ತ ವೇಃತ ತು ಸೀ ಇತ!” ಇನ್ಸೈದ ಮೀ ಡೆ ಫೈಎರ ತು ಕೀಪ ಮೀ ಗೋಇಙ ಬಿಕೇಃಮ ಸ್ತರೊಙ್ಗೆರ.

ವೀ ವೊಂಕ್ದ ಇನ್ತು ಎ ಭಿಭಿದ ಸಾನ್ಸೇತ. ಐ ರೇಮಿನಿಸ್ದ ಡೆ ಮೇಮೊರಿಸ ಒಫ ಪಾಸ್ತ ಸಾಮೆರ್ಸ, ಪ್ಲೇಃಇಙ ರೇತ್ರೋ ಭಿದಿಓ ಗೇಃಮ್ಸ ಇನ ಡೆ ಕುಲ ಶೇಃದ, ಇಭೆನ ಡೋ ಡೆ ಸಾನ ಔತ್ಸೈದ ಪೀಕ್ದ ಆತ ೪೨ ದಿಗ್ರೀಸ ಆನ್ದ ಮೇಲ್ತೆದ ಏಭ್ರಿಟಿಙ ಏಲ್ಸ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.