[INDOLOGY] ISO transliteration standard for devanagari (Harry Spier)

Harry Spier hspier.muktabodha at gmail.com
Sun Jun 19 18:40:32 UTC 2016

On Sun, Jun 19, 2016 at 1:51 PM, C.A. Formigatti <caf57 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:
. . .

> . I would use the ISO-15919 transliteration system only when I edit a
> text. Preparing a diplomatic transliteration of a manuscript is something
> different,
Harry Spier wrote:
To my mind the problem is that if you can't use a transliteration standard
to prepare a diplomatic transliteration then there is something wrong with
that transliteration standard.  Surely thats the purpose of a
transliteration standard. Note that the  rule for normalizing anusvaras to
class nasals is a "required rule" and not a recommendation or option.  As
you pointed out the normalization of nasals is bad practice for editing
manuscripts.  The normalization of nasals  was pointed out as a problem in
editing manuscripts about 20 years ago on this list:
But by making the normalization of nasals a required practice for sanskrit
the standard is saying this is good practice.

Harry Spier

> I have just been going through the ISO standard for transliteration of
> Devanagari and related Indic scripts ISO-15919 and I found something quite
> surpriseing.
> 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.
> a)
> 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
> thecorresponding 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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