ASCII and HTML transliteration of Avestan script

bpj at bpj at
Fri May 2 10:13:53 UTC 1997

Dear listmembers,

some time ago a request to this list by George Thompson brought to my
attention the fact that there existed no scheme for transliterating the
Avestan script in ASCII. In response to this I have developed the 7-bit
ASCII-based scheme found in the leftmost column below, based on the
transliteration of Hoffmann. I also added a case insensitive version using
standard accented letters and the apostrophe as a diacritical mark, which
will hopefully look more agreeable on the WWW. At the foot the of the table
is a box showing the ASCII-transliterated Avestan alphabet, which can be
copied and pasted into messages, as a guide to recipients as yet unfamiliar
with the scheme. There is also a sample text at the end of the message. The
pronunciations are given according to the Kirshenbaum system of phonetic
transcription, except for my use of +j and +w to indicate palatalization
and labialization respectively.

I give my thanks to George for his help with working out the shortcomings
of initial drafts of the ASCII scheme. Needless to say I remain solely
responsible for any remaining deficiencies. Your comments and criticisms
are welcome. Please repost this scheme to other potentially interested
mailinglists, newsgroups and individuals as you see fit. Apologies for the
length of this post, wc will hopefully be seen as motivated by the nature
of the content.

Best wishes,



 Proposal for an
 ASCII and HTML transliteration of Avestan script

 Draft 2, 1.5.1997 NEW!

 by B. Philip Jonsson <bpj at>

  ASCII     HTML              Pronunciation. Comments.
  case      not case
  sensitive sensitive
  a         a                 /a/
  A         â     â     /a:/
  %         å     å     /A:/
  &         ã     ã    /a~/
  V         õ     õ    /A~/ Rare.
  ^         ë/ä   ë      /@/
  @         æ     æ     /@:/
  e         e                 /e/
  E         ê     ê     /E:/
  o         o                 /o/
  O         ô     ô     /O:/
  i         i                 /I/
  I         î     î     /i:/
  u         u                 /U/
  U         û     û     /u:/
  k         k                 /k/
  x         x                 /x/
  X         'xy               /x+j/
  K         'xv               /x+w/
  g         g                 /g/
  q         q                 exact pronunciation unknown,
                              possibly /q/ or /G/,
                              or implosive /g/. Rare.

  Q         gh                /Q/ (voiced velar fricative.)
  c         c                 /tS/
  j         j                 /dZ/
  t         t                 /t/
  H         th                /T/
  d         d                 /d/
  D         dh                /D/
  T         't                exact pronunciation unknown,
                              ejective /t/ or implosive /d/.

  p         p                 /p/
  f         f                 /F/ (bilabial.)
  b         b                 /b/
  B         w (bh)            /B/ (bilabial fricative.)
  G         'ñg   'ñg  /N/ (velar nasal), mostly
                              found before h.

  J         'ñy   'ñy  /N+j/
  W         'ñv   'ñv  /N+w/
  n         n                 /n/
  N         'ny               /n+j/
  ~         ñ     ñ    nasalization of preceding vowel
                              _and_ nasal consonant homorganic
                              with the following stop.

  m         m                 /m/
  M         'm                exact pronunciation unknown,
                             /m+j/ or /hm/ (voiceless /m/)

  Y         ÿ     ÿ      /j/ Confused with y in the
  ii        ii                /Ij/
  v         v                 /v/ older /w/
  uu        uu                /Uw/
  r         r                 /r/ (possibly not rolled)
  $         ç     ç    /hr/ (voiceless /r/) or
                              /S+r/ (retroflex /S/).
                              Confused with sh in the
  s         s                 /s/
  z         z                 /z/
  S         sh                /S/ Confused with ç in the
  Z         zh                /Z/
  C         'sh               /S+y/ Confused with sh and
                              ç in the manuscripts

  y(/R)     y / 'zh           /Z+y/ Confused with ÿ in
                              the manuscripts.

  h         'h                /h/ Note the apostrophe in
                              the HTML transliteration!

*                                   *
*  a A % & (V) ^ @ e E o O i I u U  *
*                                   *
*  k x X K g q Q   c j   t H d D T  *
*                                   *
*  p f b B   G J W n N ~ m M   Y v  *
*                                   *
*  r $   s z S Z C y(/R)   h        *
*                                   *
*  Devised by B.Philip Jonsson      *
*                <bpj at>      *

(pa n&m i yazd&)
1: a$^m vohU...(1 u 3).
frauuarAne mazdaiiasnO zaraHuStriS vIdaEuuO ahura-TkaE$O, hAuuan at e a$aone
a$ahe raHBe yasnAica vahmAica x$naoHrAica frasastaiiaEca,
sAuuaGh at e vIsiiAica a$aone a$ahe raHBe yasnAica vahmAica x$naoHrAica
2: AHrO ahurahe mazd% puHrahe tauua AtarS puHra ahurahe mazd% x$naoHra
yasnAica vahmAica x$naoHrAica frasastaiiaEca. 3: yaHA ahU vairiiO zaotA
frA-mE mrUtE,
aHA ratuS a$ATcIT haca frA a$auua vIDuu% mraotU. a$^m vohU...(3).
yaHA ahU vairiiO...(2).

4: frastuiiE humatOibiiascA hUxtOibiiascA huuarStOibiiascA m&HBOibiiascA
vax^DBOibiiascA varStuuOibiiascA, aibigairiiA daiHE vIspA humatAcA hUxtAcA
huuarStAcA, paitiriciiA daiHE vIspA duSmatAcA duZUxtAcA duZuuarStAcA. 5:
f^rA v@ rAhI am^$A sp^~tA yasn^mcA vahm^mcA f^rA manaGhA f^rA vacaGhA f^rA
CiiaoHanA f^rA aGhuiiA f^rA tanuuascIT KaXii% uStan^m. 6: staomI a$^m,
a$^m vohU vahiSt^m astI uStA astI uStA ahmAi hiiaT a$Ai vahiStAi a$^m(3)!


*  B.Philip Jonsson <bpj at>               *
*  Editor, Translator (English <-> Swedish),    *
*  Scholarly font-designer, Web-book designer   *

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