Oriya script

Oriya script

Infobox Writing system
time=c. 1100–present
fam1=Proto-Canaanite alphabet [a]
fam2=Phoenician alphabet [a]
fam3=Aramaic alphabet [a]
footnotes= [a] The Semitic origin of the Brahmic scripts is not universally agreed upon.
fam7=Eastern Nāgarī
unicode= [http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0B00.pdf U+0B00–U+0B7F]

The Oriya script is used to write the Oriya language, and can be used for several other Indian languages, for example, Sanskrit.


Though the cursive shape might appear to suggest influence from southern Brahmic scripts like Tamil or Malayalam, it is thought that this appearance was the result of the long-standing practice of writing manuscripts on palm leaves with a pointed stylus, which have a tendency to tear if too many straight lines are made on the surface.ref|origins_and_shape

Oriya is a syllabic alphabet or an abugida wherein all consonants have an inherent vowel embedded within. Diacritics, which can appear above, below, before or after the consonant they belong to, are used to change the form of the inherent vowel. When the diacritics appear at the beginning of a syllable, vowels are written as independent letters. Also, when certain consonants occur together, special conjunct symbols are used which combine the essential parts of each consonant symbol.

Sample Text

"Oṛiyā is encumbered with the drawback of an excessively awkward and cumbrous written character. ... At first glance, an Oṛiyā book seems to be all curves, and it takes a second look to notice that there is something inside each." (G.A. Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, 1903)
"The Indic fonts used here and in the following tabels are taken from INDOLIPI."

(Text taken from Bidhu Bhusan Das Gupta and Bimbadhar Das: Oriya Self-Taught, Calcutta 1967)

Translation (by Das Gupta and Das)

There lived in a certain village an old man named Chandrasekhar. He had two sons. The elder was called Shashibhusan and the younger Charubhusan. Charubhusan lost his father when he was only a year and a half old. So his mother was very much attached to him. His elder brother was older than him by seven or eight years. So when Shashibhusan was at school, Charubhusan passed his time only playing about.

Oṛiyā Alphabet

Independent Vowels


= Digits =

Dependent Vowels

As with other Abugida scripts Oṛiyā consonant signs have an inherent vowel. It is transliterated as ‹a›, phonetic value [ɔ] as in Bengali. Its absence is marked by Hasanta (Virāma):

For the other vowels diacritics are used:

Vowel diacritics may be more or less fused with the consonants, though in modern printing such ligatures have become less common.

Consonant Ligatures

Clusters of two or more consonants form a ligature. Basically Oṛiyā has two types of such consonant ligatures. The "northern" type is formed by fusion of two ore more consonants as in northern scripts like Devanāgarī (but to a lesser extent also in the Malayalam script in the south). In some instances the components can be easily identified, but sometimes completely new glyphs are formed. With the "southern" type the second component is reduced in size and put under the first as in the southern scripts used for Kannaḍa and Telugu (and to some extent also for Malayalam script). The following table shows the most commonly used ligatures. (Different fonts may use different ligatures.)

Special Forms

‹ẏ› and ‹r› as components of a ligature are given a special treatment. As last member they become and respectively:

‹r› as first member of a ligature becomes (called Repha as in other Indic scripts) and is shifted to the end of the ligature:


The Oṛiyā script exhibits quite a few ambiguities which add to the difficulties beginners encounter in learning it.

Some of the basic characters of the alphabet may easily be confounded. In order to reduce ambiguities a small oblique stroke is added at the lower right end as a diacritic. It resembles Hasanta (Virāma) but it is joined to the letter, whereas Hasanta is not joined. When the consonant forms a vowel ligature by which the lower right end is affected, this stroke is shifted to another position. This applies also to consonant ligatures baring the stroke (see table of consonant ligatures).

Some of the subjoined consonants, some other ligature components and variants of vowel diacritics have changing functions:

Open top consonants get a subjoined variant of the vowel diacritic for ‹i› as in

This same little hook is used in some consonant ligatures to denote ‹t› as first component:

The subjoined form of ‹ch› is also used for subjoined ‹th›:

The subjoined form of ‹bh› serves also as a diacritic for different purposes:

The subjoined forms of ‹ṇ› and ‹tu› are almost identical:

The sign for the nasal ‹ṁ› may be used as a diacritic too:

Comparison of Oṛiyā script with its Neighbours

At a first look the great number of signs with round shapes suggests a closer relation to the southern neighbour Telugu than to the other neighbours Bengali in the north and Devanāgarī in the west. The reason for the round shapes in Oṛiyā and Telugu (and also in Kannaḍa and Malayāḷam) is the former method of writing using a stylus to scrutch the signs into a palm leaf. These tools do not allow for horizontal strokes because that would damage the leaf.

Therefore the horizontal stroke on top of most Devanāgarī and Bengali letters has become a hoop in Oṛiyā. So in most cases the reader of Oṛiyā will find the distinctive parts of a letter only below the hoop. Considering this the following tables clearly show a closer relation to Devanāgarī and Bengali than to any southern script, though both northern and southern scripts have the same origin, Brāhmī.

Vowel signs

Consonant Signs

Vowel Diacritics

The treatment of ‹e› ‹ai› ‹o› ‹au› is similar to Bengali, Malayāḷam, Sinhalese, Tamiḻ, Grantha and also to SE Asian scripts like Burmese, Khmer and Thai, but it differs clearly from Devanāgarī, Gujarātī, Gurmukhī, Kannaḍa, Telugu and Tibetan.

Oriya in Unicode

The Unicode range for Oriya is U+0B00–U+0B7F. Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points.

See also

* Brahmic family
* Oriya language
* Oriya Literature


# [http://www.ancientscripts.com/oriya.html Ancient Scripts]

External links

* [http://www.odisha.com www.odisha.com] Orissa News in Oriya.
* [http://www.odia.org www.odia.org] Oriya and Odia news. Excellent resources of education and cultural activities. Lots of Odia (Oriya) books in pdf format. Learn Odia (oriya) language with the dhwanI (ITRANS (Oriya) Odia software.
* [http://www.unicode.org/unicode/uni2book/ch09.pdf The Unicode Book: Chapter 9] - South and Southeast Asian Scripts (PDF)
* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/oriya.htm Oriya alphabet] - From Omniglot
* [http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Oriya.html Oriya Unicode Fonts] WAZU JAPAN's Unicode font pages
* [http://www.fullorissa.com Web Portal on Orissa]
* [http://www.orissablogs.com www.orissablogs.comk] A blogs for Oriyas.
* [http://oriya.sarovar.org/ Project Rebati - An open-source initiative for computing in Oriya]
* [http://www.helloorissa.com 1st Talking Yellow Pages of ORISSA]

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