Marathi Language In Roman Script


Article E03


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  1. Scope : Marathi language is spoken mainly in Maharashtra State, India. Its (Devanagari) script has much merit but it may be a barrier for interested outsiders. Sometimes, only English printing and email-attachment facility is available. In such cases, an optional Roman script would help. English alphabets and apostrophe mark are used here to suit Marathi sounds and their frequency. They mostly agree with usual practice of spelling Marathi names in English. Samples of Romanized Marathi are given with English meanings. Symbols on English keyboards are chosen. Diacritics (dot below, dash above) letters are avoided. So all English-serving machines will serve Marathi.
  2. Vowels : a (u -up, both a - american) aa (a -art) ae (a -apple) ao (aw -law) e (egg) i (it) o (open) u (u -pull) All vowels are usually of uniform duration. In rare cases, adding apo (apostrophe mark) will prolong or confirm them (ki'n, ra'g, su'n = English keen, rug, soon) . Vowels in some Marathi words are faintly nasal (Like -on- in French word -bon-). Put (m') after symbols of such vowels. Do not read (aa, ae, ao) as vowel (a) followed by vowel (a, e, o). Read (ai, au) as vowel (a) followed by vowel (i, u). Symbols ae, ao are taken for some English words. Marathi vowels are considered short and long as per duration of breath. Vowels in English words (kin, pull, get) (keen, pool, gate) are respectively considered short and long, as per Marathi perception. One may write (keen, pool) as (ki'n, pu'l). In practice, one may ignore short-long duality in the Roman option for Marathi. Words (hindi, mumbai) are accepted, though Devanagari equivalents are (hindee, mumbaee).
  3. Consonants : b (boy) ch (chair) ch' (between ch, s) d (th -they) d' (d -dog) g (girl) h (he) j (jam) j' (between j, z) k (king) l (lamp) l' (hard l) m (man) n (no) n' (hard n) p (pin) r (run) s (see) sh (she) t (like French t ) t' (t-toy) v (w -woman) y (yes) z (zoo). Sounds (d, l, n, t) and (d', l', n', t') are respectively dental and retroflex (hard). Sound (h) is not uttered in (ch, ch', sh). Sound (h) is mixed in consonants bh, chh, dh, d'h, gh, jh (like s - measure), kh, lh, mh, nh, ph (photo) rh, th (thin), t'h, vh (like v - vote). Consonants (ch, chh, j, jh, y, sh) and (ch', j', z, r, s) are respectively called palatal and alveolar in phonetics.
  4. English Words : Above script may not suit other languages including English. Here some English words (first letter capital) and their equivalents are given just to explain the above script. Kin kin, Keen ki'n, Pull pul, Pool pu'l, Men men, Main me'n, Run ra'n, Ran raen, Me mi, My maay, May me', Mine maain, Not naot', Note no't', His hij', We vi, They de', day d'e', Sugar shugar, Colour kalar, Though do', Do d'u, Victory vhikt'ari, Measure mejhar, Zoo zu', American amerikan, Our avar, Art aart, Open opan, Cow kaau
  5. Capitals : Small (= lower case) symbols (a) to (z) are used, except (f, q, w, x). Usually, there are no capitals. Put a triple dot, and not a single dot, to end a sentence which is followed by another sentence. (Put 2 dots after an end question / exclamation mark). Optionally, retain traditional spelling of names and words with first letter capital for alerting readers. Write (meri, inglish, pepar, kampani) or (Mary, English, Paper, Company). A single dot is enough to end a single sentence and a paragraph.
  6. A Nursery Rhyme : ye re ye re paavsaa… tulaa deto paisaa…paisaa zaalaa khot'aa…paaus aalaa mot'haa. (Note absence of capitals and presence of three dots). Hereafter bold type is used for Marathi words, with relevant English meanings within brackets, followed by total English translation. ye (come) re (oh) ye (come) re (oh) paavsaa (oh rain)... tulaa (to you) deto (I offer) paisaa (coin)... paisaa (coin) zaalaa (became) khot'aa (false)... paaus (rain) aalaa (came) mot'haa (big). = Oh rain, come come. I offer you a coin. It turned counterfeit. Rain came heavily. ( Nursery rhymes often have absurd meanings. They introduce, in an easy way, some words and tunes to kids.)
  7. Song Of Maharashtra : Starting lines of a poem praising Maharashtra. bahu (many) asot ( let be) sundar (beautiful) sampanna (affluent) ki (or) mahaa (great)... priya (dear) amuch'aa (our) ek (one) mahaaraasht'ra (Maharashtra) desh (country ) haa (this). = Let there be many beautiful, affluent or great countries. We love our province Maharashtra as it is. (mahaa= great, raasht'ra= nation, in Sanskrit. Maharashtra State was formed in year 1960. But the region carries that name for centuries. Ancients had not conceived India, as a greater nation. maraat'hi was called marhaat'i centuries ago.)
  8. Song Of Marathi Language : Middle lines of a poem praising Marathi. hich'e (her) putra (sons) aamhi (we), hich'e ( her) paanga (obligations) phed'u (shall redeem)… vase (resides) aamuchaa (our) maatra (verily) rhunmandiri (in temple of heart)… jaganmaanyataa (world-eminence) his (to her) arpu (shall bestow) prataape (by grand deeds)… hilaa (to her) baisavu (shall install) vaibhavaachaa (of prosperity) shiri (on top). = We, her sons, are committed, deep in our hearts, to redeem her obligations. By our performace, we shall take her to world glory and prosperity. (She = mothertongue maraat'hi in earlier lines. Sons includes daughters. Poets use figurative language.)
  9. Proverbs : ati (excess) tethe (there) maati (trash) = Excess results in fiasco. durun (from away) d'ongar (hills) saaj'are (graceful) = Appearances are deceptive. garaj' (need) saro (be over) va (and) vaidya (doctor) maro (be damned) = Gratitude is short-lived. devaachi (God's) karn'i (trick) va (and) naaral'aat (in coconut) paan'i (water)... = Miracles happen. kutryaach'e (dog's) sheput' (tail) sadaa (always) vaakd'e (curved)... = Queerness is incurable. ekaa (one) myaanaat (in sheath) don (two) talvaari (swords) rahaat (remain) naahit (not)... = Rivals do not co-operate. nindakaach'e (slanderer's ) ghar (house) asaave (be situated) shej'aari (adjacently)... = Criticism helps to make progress. naak (nose) daable (squeezed) ki (then) tond' (mouth) ughad'te (opens). = Put pressure if request fails. (Catchy words are used in proverbs to state some wisdom.) Some proverbs are shown in both scripts in M12.
    For pronunciation, proverbs 1-4 press here and for proverbs 5-8 press here . Suitable browser (like IE) enables to read text, while listening.
  10. Saint's Farewell : A 17th century saint Tukaram wrote this poem (part here) before death. aamhi (we) j'aato (go) aamuchaa (our) gaavaa (to town).. . aamuch'aa (our) raamraam (goodbye) ghyaavaa (be taken)... tumchi (your) aamchi (our ) hechi (in this) bhet'i (in meeting)... yethuniyaa (from here) janma (life) tut'i (snaps) ... aataa (now) aso (let be) dyaavi (be given) dayaa (mercy)... tumchaa (your) laagat (touching) ase (am) paayaa (at feet). = I go to where I belong. I bid you farewell. We will not meet again in this life. Please be kind to me. I bow to you. (People of all religions have helped Marathi culture. Some Hindu scriptures advise chanting name of god raam for spiritual salvation. Without any religious implication, word raamraam means greetings and goodbye.)
  11. Complex Grammar : haa (this) daaginaa (ornament) bhaarataamadhe (in India) kelaa (made) aahe (is). = This ornament is made in India. Even inanimate objects have gender in grammar. Some adjectives and verbs vary according to gender. Nouns take oblique forms, to which functional words are later attached. This results in long words inconvenient for dictionary purpose. Here, haa and kelaa match with masculine noun daaginaa. Noun bhaarat (India) is masculine. daaginyaa and bhaarataa are their oblique forms. madhe (in) is a functional word, attached to bhaarataa. Marathi people are habituated to illogical genders etc from childhood. These complexities may deter non-Marathi learners. If so, as a first step, they may be quickly taught a non-Standard Marathi with neuter gender, detached functional words and no oblique. (haa, kelaa), (hi, keli), (he, kele) are respectively masculine, feminine, neuter gender singular words. In non-Standard Marathi, above sentence = he daaginaa bhaarat madhe kele aahe.
  12. Conclusion : Devanagari script is written from left to right. It is a three-tier script, wherein symbols are sometimes modified and mixed. Details are not presented here. Marathi people prefer Devanagari and find it nice, compact and almost phonetic. Devanagari software, based on Unicode, is available to some extent. Roman script option is phonetic and can work. Indeed, many persons use Roman script for emails, but take liberty with symbols. For instance use of (d, l, n, t) for both (d, l, n, t) & (d’, l’, n’, t’), use of (ch) for both (ch, ch’), use of (a) for both (a, aa), use of (j) for both ( j, j’), use of (ee, oo) for (i’, u’), capital to start sentence, single dot at end of sentence. Some persons use (A, I, U, D, L, N, T) for (aa, i’, u’, d’, l’, n’, t’). It is necessary to have an agency for standardization and guidance.

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Updated on : $ January 1, 2017 $
Author : Madhukar N Gogate