Indic Scripts: History, Typology, Study

  • Peter T. DanielsEmail author
Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS, volume 17)


Indic scripts are the writing systems descended from the third-century bce Brahmi script, which was used throughout the realm of Emperor Aśoka. They are used by nearly two billion people from Pakistan through India, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia, and in former times parts of Indonesia and the Philippines and along the Silk Road; Indic scripts have influenced scripts as far away as the Horn of Africa. Most of them are characterized by the distinctive typological property of basic characters denoting consonants plus the unmarked vowel (usually /a/), with the other vowels denoted by marks attached to the base characters; and in many, consonant clusters (not respecting syllable boundaries) are denoted by ligatures of two (or more) consonant characters. This chapter describes the descent and distribution of the forms, the varying typologies over space and time, and the investigations by which their properties became known to linguistic scholarship.


Abugida Brahmi Decipherment Indic scripts history Indic scripts typology Kharoṣṭhi Writing system typology 


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