Devanagari Fonts


Simon agreed that I’ll occasionally post reviews about Asia, India and devanagari, typography and some font & linguistic software related matters as well.

I’m a young man, born in Riga and spreading the Sanskrit message around the world. Working as a Sanskrit Reader in Russia, teaching at the Russian State University and writing a PhD about Sanskrit verbal roots. I’m planning to publish several Sanskrit manuals and reprints of old books in the near future. I’m an editor as well of the Sanskrit section of the Open Directory and So you can download some dictionaries there, etc.

It is strange that 200 years after the first Nagari typefaces where cast in iron in India, we’ve got no fine Devanagari fonts at our disposal. Ok, we have quite a few Hindi fonts. But, hey, there are many differences. No Devanagari fonts at the moment supports the four variants of “la” or the northern (Varanasi) and southern (Mumbai) variant of the letter “a”. Ok, some may say that who cares about Nagari font, but you do know and notice the difference, if you’re a teacher – students get stuck seeing a letter they’ve never seen before and have no reference chart to look upon.

None of the True Type Unicode fonts have a precoded ligature for “sthva” (which means the “va” should be under the “sth” and not beside it) as it was in the good old times when Harvard Oriental Series was printed (even they have lost the type in the latest editions, e.g. the 50th edition was printed in transliteration only). All the letters in Windows fonts are written without even the slightest break, though it is well known that in the manuscripts and books printed before 1914 in Europe, Devanagari letters are separated buy 1-1.5 mm. Maybe it is not very good from the point of view of grammarians, but, sure, it looks much better. Devanagari font differences like these can be continued.
That’s it for today, next post will be in a while. Is there anybody who’s interested to hear about Unicode Devanagari font matters?

This entry was posted in Language, Sanskrit, Typography.

9 Responses to Devanagari Fonts

  1. goofy says:

    by different variants, are you referring to things like the “a” in this sign:

    and the “la” in this sign:

  2. Joanna says:

    Yes, I actually do need to know about Unicode Devanagari font matters. I’m not a technical person; I just need to know which fonts we should have our Hindi translators use so that we can easily post the texts on our website. Thanks!!

  3. AR says:

    I use chandas. its a very wonderful font for sanskrit as it has the largest conjunt inventory. it is unicode compliant and it has vedic accents in the private use area. it has a sister font called uttara. chandas uses the mumbai form and uttara, the varanasi/kolkata form. this is great when one needs to stress the various forms of a, aa, jh, N, la, sh, &c.

  4. Marcis says:

    Yes, the “a” and “la” are the ones.
    So ok, let me gather the data.
    I know the author of Chandas, he
    is from Minsk. We have discussed
    the font for a while. It was made
    for the needs of vyakarana, but I
    don think it is the best looking one.

  5. renato figueiredo says:

    I don’t know, but I think in Nepali language they say Nemaste. Am I right?

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  7. No clue about Nepali, but namaste derives from the Sanskrit root “nam”, so it’s namaste or namaskar in Sanskrit for sure.

  8. Arps says:

    “Nemeste” is just a variant of the accent of speaking.
    In Hindi, its definitely Namaste…

    PS:Im amazed to see such detailed discussions & insight into the Devnagri script.

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