THE ‘PLAIN ROMAN’ 
TRANSLITERATION SYSTEM
USED FOR ‘A DESERTFUL OF ROSES’

NOTE: A ‘roman-with-diacritics’ choice will appear within the script bar as a separate option, parallel to Urdu script and Devanagari. But all three of these display modes are based on a java-script transformation of the system described on this page. This ‘plain roman’ version is what I originally typed in.

For technical information, please see Sean’s ‘more information’ page.

Devanagari readers, please take note of some special considerations.

Since capitals are used meaningfully in my system, proper names in transliteration do not begin with capital letters.

In every case, a modified consonant is represented by a diacritic marker placed BEFORE the consonant itself. While this is cumbersome, it permits global search-and-replace operations to be performed. Other seemingly repetitive treatments of various special letters have the same goal: to create forms that can never appear in ordinary English prose.

The modified letters that truly change the pronunciation of the word—the three retroflexes /;Te  ;Daal  ;Re/; the letter /;Gain/; and the nasalizer /;N/—are represented by a capital letter preceded by a semicolon, so that they are quite conspicuous. The other modified letters—those that affect only spelling—are represented as lower-case letters preceded by diacritic markers (semicolon, colon, or period). In the case of vowels, doubling is used as necessary to indicate length.

The pronunciation guide is based on the one worked out by the ‘Literary Cultures in History’ project, under the guidance of Shelly Pollock. (I helped work it out too, so I’m glad to put it into wider circulation.)

Urdu letter sets that are pronounced identically (in order of first occurrence):

t — :t 
;s — s — .s 
;h — h 
;z — z — .z — :z

 
===========     =ROUGH ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION GUIDE=
alif aa aa as in ‘fAther’
dagger alif ;aa ;aa as in ‘fAther’
word-internal alif-madd :aa :aa as in ‘fAther’
be b b as in ‘Bin’
pe p p as in ‘sPin’
te t t as in English, but with the tip of the tongue touching the teeth as in ‘breadth’
;Te ;T ;T as in English, but with the tongue curved back to touch the front of the hard palate
;se ;s ;s as in ‘So’
jiim j j as in ‘Jar’
che ch ch as in ‘esCHew’
;he ;h ;h as in ‘Hope’
;xe ;x ;x as in the Scottish ‘loCH’
daal d d as in English, but with the tip of the tongue touching the teeth as in ‘breadth’
;Daal ;D ;D as in English, but with the tongue curved back to touch the front of the hard palate
;zaal ;z ;z as in ‘Zoo’
re r r as in ‘dRama’
;Re ;R ;R as in /;D/, but with the tip of the tongue flapping quickly on the roof of the mouth
ze z z as in ‘Zoo’
zhe zh zh as in ‘leiSure’
siin s s as in ‘So’
shiin sh sh as in ‘SHove’
.svaad .s .s as in ‘So’
.zvaad .z .z as in ‘Zoo’
:to))e :t :t as in English, but with the tip of the tongue touching the teeth as in ‘breadth’
:zo))e :z :z as in ‘Zoo’
((ain (( (( in practice, as a ‘wild card’ vowel: it can emulate any of the short vowels, according to the particular word involved. (In theory, it is like the glottal stop before the ‘o’ when you say ‘Uh oh!’)
;Gain ;G ;G more or less as in the French ‘Rien’ (though from the back of the throat)
fe f f as in ‘Fast’
qaaf q q as in ‘sKate’ but pronounced much farther back in the throat; this description really does not do it justice, but I don’t know how to improve on it
kaaf k k as in ‘sKate’
gaaf g g as in ‘Gate’
laam l l as in ‘Love’
miim m m as in ‘Mother’
nuun n n as in ‘Not’
tanviin :n :n as in ‘Not’
vaa))o

uu
-o-
au
v

uu
o
au
v
as in ‘pOOl’
as in ‘rOte’
as in ‘cAUght’
as in ‘Vile’
he h h as in ‘Hope’
chho;Tii ye ii
y
ii
y
as in ‘bEEt’
as in ‘Yellow’
ba;Rii ye e
y
e
y
as in ‘gAte’
as in ‘Yellow’
hamzah )) )) as a glide between two vowels, or sometimes as in ‘bIt’
i.zaafat -e -e as in ‘gAte’
nuun-e ;Gunnah ;N ;N as a nasaliser following any vowel
do-chashmii he h h as an aspirator for the preceding consonant
zer i i as in ‘bIt’
zabar a a as in ‘bUt’
pesh u u as in ‘lOOk’
 
 
 — Ghalib index page — sitemap — FWP’s main page —