Tuesday, 23 August 2011

भारत के रॉयल न्यायालयों की स्प्लेंडर महाराजा

This is a T-shirt from the Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

It's a shame that the script couldn't be rendered more elegantly.

Devanagari script is an abugida: consonant letters are read with an accompanying vowel, so स is sa. Other vowels are represented by diacritics: सी , से se सु su, etc. To indicate that the consonant letter should not be read with an accompanying vowel, a diacritic called virama is used: स् is s.

And usually when two or more consonants are clustered, they are combined using halved forms of the letters called conjucts. So स् s plus प pa is combined as स्प spa.

Two words on this shirt use virama when they could have used conjuncts. These words
न् यायालयों
स् प् लेंदार
could have been written more elegantly as

Whatever software they used to render the script displayed it… not wrong, but it could have been better.

The text is भारत के रॉयल न्यायालयों की स्प्लेंडर महाराजा bhārat ke răyal nyāyālayoṃ kī spleṃḍar mahārājā, which is Hindi for "splendour maharaja of the royal courts of India". In my inexpert opinion, it might have been better with mahārājā at the front like it is in English.


R Devraj said...

It's worse than you think.. nyayalaya describes the kind of court that dispenses justice, not a royal court

Glen Gordon said...

Visually speaking, Arabic calligraphy puts any Devanagari calligraphy I've seen to shame. Sanskrit seems to have put all its energies into being pleasing to the ear instead.

Gwen said...

Nyayalay is incorrect usage (and even stranger when paired with the English words royal and splendor), and the lack of conjuct consonants is nonstandard, but the Hindi syntax (having maharaja at the end) works perfectly well. You see it in poetic speech all the time, and in English as well. You could translate it as "the splendor of the royal courts of India: the Maharaja." Although in English we tend to use punctuation and definite articles to make it clear.

goofy said...

Thanks Gwen.

CIngram said...

Not knowing Hindi, I read it as Sanskrit, but was stumped by the weird-looking स्प्लेंडर until I saw the translation. Is it a commonly used loanword in Hindi? I find it rather... splendid.

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Sandeep Prasanna said...

The horrible show "Outsourced" also apparently used the same font in their first show. During the opening credits in the pilot episode, they had random Hindi words in the background (pyaar, etc.), but all of the vowels were misplaced w.r.t. the consonants. They also used the same weird stop-matra instead of conjoining consonants. It was really, really embarrassing for them. Luckily they fixed it for the second episode onwards. Didn't save the show, though.

Anonymous said...

There is no translation for royal and splendor. Hindi for royal is राजकीय and वैभव for splendor. So, the statement should be
भारत के राजकीय न्यायालयों की वैभव :महाराजा