[INDOLOGY] ISO transliteration standard for devanagari

Harry Spier hspier.muktabodha at gmail.com
Sat Jun 18 18:40:19 UTC 2016

I have just been going through the ISO standard for transliteration of
Devanagari and related Indic scripts ISO-15919 and I found something quite

Note the following rule quoted exactly  from the standard is a requirement
not an option. The rule includes an example from Sanskrit.

8.1 Special requirements
Rule 3.

In modern vernaculars, anusvara before a stop or class nasal shall be
transliterated as the corresponding class nasal; in other languages,
anusvara before a stop or class nasal shall be transliterated as
class nasal unless it arises from sandhi (euphonic combination) of final m
with that consonant.

EXAMPLE 1 Sanskrit* संग* is transliterated as *saṁga *when it represents
the noun formed from *sam* + root *gam*, but as *saṅga* when it represents
the noun derived from the root *sañj*

That means in many cases  if you transliterated a manuscript exactly as it
was keeping all anusvaras as anusvaras you would not be following the ISO
standard for transliteration.  It also seems to me the standard is crossing
the line from transliteration into "interpretation".

I'm somewhat surprised this found its way into the standard.

Harry Spier

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