Mundari (draft)

Nag Mundari orthography notes

Updated 27 January, 2024

This page brings together basic information about the Nag Mundari (Mundari Bani) script and its use for the Mundari language. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Mundari using Unicode.

Referencing this document

Richard Ishida, Mundari (Nag Mundari) Orthography Notes, 27-Jan-2024, https://r12a.github.io/scripts/nagm/unr

Sample

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
Change size:   36px

๐ž“๐ž“๐ž“จ๐ž“๐ž“—-๐ž“ฑ: ๐ž“›๐ž“๐ž“—๐ž“ค๐ž“จ ๐ž“ž๐ž“๐ž“ช๐ž“ ๐ž“ข๐ž“๐ž“ข๐ž“ค๐ž“ฎ ๐ž“ง๐ž“•๐ž“จ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“” ๐ž“๐ž“œ๐ž“๐ž“™ ๐ž“๐ž“ข๐ž“๐ž“š๐ž““๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ ๐ž“ข๐ž“๐ž“ฃ๐ž“ค๐ž““๐ž“•๐ž“ฆ ๐ž“‘๐ž“•๐ž“š๐ž“๐ž“š ๐ž“—๐ž“•๐ž“—๐ž“๐ž“ ๐ž“ฃ๐ž“ค ๐ž“–๐ž“๐ž“จ๐ž“๐ž“ง ๐ž“–๐ž“๐ž“ฃ๐ž“๐ž“”๐ž“ค๐ž“๐ž“ค ๐ž“•๐ž“ก๐ž“•๐ž“จ๐ž“•๐ž“ก ๐ž“๐ž“œ๐ž“๐ž“ฆ ๐ž“—๐ž“๐ž“ฃ๐ž“•๐ž“—๐ž“๐ž“ฃ๐ž“š ๐ž“จ๐ž“•๐ž“ง๐ž“•๐ž“ข๐ž“•๐ž“จ๐ž“•. ๐ž“š๐ž“จ๐ž“ข๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ฆ๐ž“ข๐ž“ค ๐ž“›๐ž“ค๐ž“ฅ๐ž“• ๐ž“๐ž“œ๐ž“๐ž“ฆ ๐ž“–๐ž“š๐ž“ฎ๐ž“ญ ๐ž“‘๐ž“ค๐ž“ช๐ž“ค๐ž“ฆ ๐ž“–๐ž“š๐ž“ญ๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ฃ๐ž“ค๐ž““๐ž“•๐ž“™ ๐ž“ค๐ž“จ๐ž“ค๐ž“ง๐ž“ข๐ž“ ๐ž“จ๐ž“•๐ž“ง๐ž“•๐ž“ข๐ž“•๐ž“จ๐ž“• ๐ž“๐ž“œ๐ž“๐ž“™ ๐ž“š๐ž“จ๐ž“ข๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“™ ๐ž“’๐ž“๐ž“™๐ž“๐ž“ค ๐ž“ž๐ž“•๐ž“ฆ๐ž“ค๐ž““๐ž“• ๐ž“—๐ž“๐ž““๐ž“• ๐ž“’๐ž“ค๐ž“ข๐ž“• ๐ž“–๐ž“•๐ž“ฆ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ ๐ž“—๐ž“•๐ž“ข๐ž“•๐ž“๐ž“š๐ž“˜๐ž“•๐ž“™.

Source

Wikipedia

Usage & history

The Mundari language is spoken in northeast India, primarily in the states of Jharkand, West Bengal, and Odisha, by around 1.1 million people.@Ethnologue,https://www.ethnologue.com/language/unr/. Mundari may be written in Devanagari, Bengali, and Oriya scripts, as well as Nag Mundari (also known as Mundari Bani). The Unicode proposal describes a 'huge' surge of interest in recent years in the script, with schools teaching Mundari Bani as well as workshops many Munda-inhabited districts. The state government of Odisha runs the Multilingual Education (MLE) Programme for tribal children to teach children their mother tongue. Mundari is one of the languages covered in their programme.m It is estimated that approximately 10% of Mundari speakers can read Mundari Bani.wm

๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“จ๐ž“œ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“š

The script was invented by Rohidas Singh Nag (1934 - 2012) in the latter half of the 20th century. A significant reform of the script took place in 2008, and all material printed today uses that version of the orthography. The reform simplified or changed the shape of some letters, and added symbols for ษณ and w. The Unicode proposalwm,7-8 has a table showing the differences.

Basic features

The Nag Mundari script is an alphabet. Both consonants and vowels are indicated by letters, and the script is mostly quite straightforward. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Mundari orthography.

Mundari text runs from left to right in horizontal lines. Words are separated by spaces. The orthography is unicameral.

โฏ consonantSummary

Mundari represents consonants using 22 basic letters, plus one diacritic.

An unusual feature of Nag Mundari is that the sound w is written using a diacritic below the letter representing the following vowel. This applies for standalone vowels as well as for syllable onset clusters.

Another unusual feature of Mundari is that word-final b and d may be pronounced as checked sounds ห€bฬฅ(แต) or ห€dฬฅ(โฟ). This can be signalled by placing the special letter ๐ž“ซ before the consonant.

A diacritic can be used to extend the repertoire when close transcription of words from neighbouring languages is desired.

There are no conjunct forms or ligatures. Gemination is not a feature of the Mundari language, but ๐ž“ซ may be used to indicate gemination in close transcriptions of neighbouring languages.

โฏ basicV

The Mundari orthography is an alphabet that writes vowels using 5 vowel letters. Two diacritics indicate vowel length and nasalisation; they are placed above and to the right side of the base, and may overlap following letters. The use of these diacritics varies from one author to another.

Standalone vowel sounds are written using the normal vowel letters.

Punctuation includes that used for the Latin script. Mundari has its own set of digits.

Line-breaking and justification are primarily based on inter-word spaces.

Character index

Letters

Show

Consonants

๐ž“™โฃ๐ž“—โฃ๐ž“ โฃ๐ž“กโฃ๐ž“œโฃ๐ž“ฆโฃ๐ž“žโฃ๐ž“–โฃ๐ž“ขโฃ๐ž“’โฃ๐ž“งโฃ๐ž“จโฃ๐ž“˜โฃ๐ž“”โฃ๐ž“ฅโฃ๐ž“‘โฃ๐ž“ฃโฃ๐ž“ชโฃ๐ž“›โฃ๐ž“โฃ๐ž“ฉโฃ๐ž““

Vowels

๐ž“•โฃ๐ž“คโฃ๐ž“šโฃ๐ž“โฃ๐ž“Ÿ

Other

๐ž“ซ

Combining marks

Show
๐ž“ฎโฃ๐ž“ฌโฃ๐ž“ฏโฃ๐ž“ญ

Punctuation

Show
โ€˜โฃโ€™โฃโ€œโฃโ€

ASCII

!โฃ(โฃ)โฃ,โฃ.โฃ:โฃ;โฃ?

Numbers

Show
๐ž“ฐโฃ๐ž“ฑโฃ๐ž“ฒโฃ๐ž“ณโฃ๐ž“ดโฃ๐ž“ตโฃ๐ž“ถโฃ๐ž“ทโฃ๐ž“ธโฃ๐ž“น

Alternative digits

เฅฆโฃเฅงโฃเฅจโฃเฅฉโฃเฅชโฃเฅซโฃเฅฌโฃเฅญโฃเฅฎโฃเฅฏ
เงฆโฃเงงโฃเงจโฃเงฉโฃเงชโฃเงซโฃเงฌโฃเงญโฃเงฎโฃเงฏ
เญฆโฃเญงโฃเญจโฃเญฉโฃเญชโฃเญซโฃเญฌโฃเญญโฃเญฎโฃเญฏ

Other

Show

To be investigated

%โฃ-โฃ[โฃ]โฃโ€“โฃโ€”โฃโ€ฆโฃโ€ฐ
Items to show in lists

Phonology

The following represents the general repertoire of the Mundari language.

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Wikipedia.

Vowel sounds

i u e o a a

Vowels can be long or short, but length is not phonemically contrastive.o,100

Vowels following a nasal, following dอกz (optional), or preceding ษณ are normally nasalised. Nasalisation is not contrastive, either.o,100

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
retroflex palatal velar glottal
stop p b t d     สˆ ษ–   k ษก ส”
aspirated pสฐ tสฐ     สˆสฐ   kสฐ  
affricate     tอกษ• dอกส‘          
aspirated     dอกส‘สฐ          
fricative     s         h
nasal m n     ษณ ษฒ ล‹
approximant w   l     j  
trill/flap     r   ษฝ

Aspiration only occurs in the Naguri and Kera dialects.wl

Checked consonants

Checked consonants are a special feature of Mundari phonology. They may occur in morpheme-final position as ห€bฬฅ(แต) or ห€dฬฅ(โฟ). These are pronounced by closing the glottis while articulating the stop, then the glottal stop is released (in monosyllabic words only) with an optional nasal release.

Tone

Mundari has no tones.

Structure

See page 101 of Osada for detailed information about where sounds appear in words.

w and j never occur in word-initial position.o,101

Vowels

Vowel summary table

The following table summarises the main vowel to character assigments.

Another diacritic is added to the vowels to indicate nasalisation (not shown here).

All:
๐ž“šโฃ๐ž“š๐ž“ญโฃ โฃ๐ž“Ÿโฃ๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ญ
๐ž“คโฃ๐ž“ค๐ž“ญโฃ โฃ๐ž“โฃ๐ž“๐ž“ญ
๐ž“•โฃ๐ž“•๐ž“ญ

For additional details see vowel_mappings.

Vowel letters

The standard vowel sounds for Mundari are written as follows.

๐ž“šโฃ๐ž“Ÿโฃ๐ž“คโฃ๐ž“โฃ๐ž“•

Diacritics used with vowels

๐ž“ญโฃ๐ž“ฌ

๐ž“ญ indicates vowel length (see vlength).

๐ž“ฌ indicates nasalisation (see nasalisation).

These diacritics are placed above and to the right side of the base, and may overlap following letters. Their use varies from one author to another.

Standalone vowels

Standalone vowel sounds are simply represented using ordinary vowel letters.

Long vowels

𞓭

1E4ED is used to indicate long vowels, but not all long vowels are so marked.

๐ž“๐ž“ช๐ž“•๐ž“ญ

๐ž“—๐ž“š๐ž“ญ๐ž“”

Nasalisation

𞓬

Nasalisation of vowels is indicated using 1E4EC.

๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ฌ

Vowel absence

There are no special mechanisms to indicate the absence of a vowel.

Vowel sounds to characters

This section maps Mundari vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Nag Mundari orthography. Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

i
 

1E4DA

ฤฉ
 

๐ž“š๐ž“ฌ

iห
 

๐ž“š๐ž“ญ

u
 

1E4DF

ลฉ
 

๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ฌ

uห
 

๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ญ

e
 

1E4E4

แบฝ
 

1E4E4 1E4EC

eห
 

1E4E4 1E4ED

o
 

1E4D0

รต
 

1E4D0 1E4EC

oห
 

1E4D0 1E4ED

a
 

1E4D5

รฃ
 

1E4D5 1E4EC

รฃ
 

1E4D5 1E4ED

Consonants

Consonant summary table

The following table summarises the main consonant to character assigments.

The left column is lowercase, and the right uppercase.

Additional sounds can be produced to match those of surrounding languages using 1E4EF. Those combinations are not shown here.

Stops
๐ž“‘โฃ๐ž“—โฃ๐ž“โฃ๐ž“กโฃ๐ž“ฉโฃ๐ž“œโฃ๐ž“ขโฃ๐ž“ฆโฃ๐ž“™
Affricates
๐ž“ โฃ๐ž“–
Fricatives
๐ž“›โฃ๐ž“ž
Nasals
๐ž“งโฃ๐ž“จโฃ๐ž“˜โฃ๐ž“ฅโฃ๐ž“”
Other
๐ž“ฎโฃ๐ž“ฃโฃ๐ž“ชโฃ๐ž“’โฃ๐ž““
Finals
๐ž“ซ๐ž“—โฃ๐ž“ซ๐ž“ก

For additional details see consonant_mappings.

Basic consonants

๐ž“‘โฃ๐ž“—โฃ๐ž“โฃ๐ž“กโฃ๐ž“ฉโฃ๐ž“œโฃ๐ž“ขโฃ๐ž“ฆโฃ๐ž“™
๐ž“ โฃ๐ž“–
๐ž“›โฃ๐ž“ž
๐ž“งโฃ๐ž“จโฃ๐ž“˜โฃ๐ž“ฅโฃ๐ž“”
๐ž“ฎโฃ๐ž“ฃโฃ๐ž“ชโฃ๐ž“’โฃ๐ž““

The sound w

The sound w is written by adding the combining mark 1E4EE to the vowel that follows. It is used this way for onset consonant clusters such as ๐ž“ข๐ž“•๐ž“ฎ kสทa, ๐ž“ข๐ž“ฎ๐ž“š kสทi, etc., but the sources imply that it is also used for sounds such as ๐ž“•๐ž“ฎ wa, ๐ž“š๐ž“ฎ wi, etc., although Osadao,101 says that w never occurs word initially.

๐ž“จ๐ž“•๐ž“๐ž“ฌ๐ž“•๐ž“ฎ ๐ž“ข๐ž“•๐ž“ง๐ž“š๐ž“จ๐ž“•๐ž“’๐ž“•

Observation: This doesn't appear to be common. Most sources show this diacritic centred below the vowel letter, rather than placed to the right as it appears in the Noto font used for this page.

Repertoire extension

๐ž“ฏ

If a writer wants to closely transliterate Devanangari, Bengali, or Odia they may extend the Mundari Bani repertoire using 1E4EF. For example, ๐ž“›๐ž“ฏ can be used to specify Devanagari U+0937 DEVANAGARI LETTER SSA, Bengali U+09B7 BENGALI LETTER SSA, or Oriya U+0B37 ORIYA LETTER SSA.wm,5

Onsets

Mundari syllables can begin with a consonant cluster, but they are just written using the relevant letters, except for CสทV, as described just above, where the medial glide is written using a combining mark on the vowel letter.

Finals

Syllable-final consonants are also generally just represented by ordinary letters, but again there is an exception.

Checked finals

๐ž“ซ

Final b or d in Mundari may be pronounced 'checked'. These checked sounds are written using ๐ž“ซ before the consonant.

๐ž“’๐ž“•๐ž“ฉ๐ž“•๐ž“ซ๐ž“—

Some authors don't use this.wm,5

is an alternative shape which can be found in recent texts.

Consonant clusters

Mundari has no conjunct forms for consonant clusters.

๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“จ๐ž“œ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“š

Gemination

Consonant gemination isn't common in Mundari, but may occur in words from other, neighbouring languages when they are transcribed. ๐ž“ซ can be used for this.

Consonant sounds to characters

This section maps Mundari consonant sounds to common graphemes in the Nag Mundari orthography. Uppercase is not shown. Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, etc.

Stops

p
 

๐ž“‘

b
 

๐ž“—

๐ž“ซ๐ž“— when checked in final position.

t
 

๐ž“

d
 

๐ž“ก

๐ž“ซ๐ž“ก when checked in final position.

สˆ
 

๐ž“ฉ

ษ–
 

๐ž“œ

k
 

๐ž“ข

ษก
 

๐ž“ฆ

ส”
 

๐ž“™

Affricates

tอกสƒ
 

๐ž“ 

dอกส’
 

๐ž“–

Fricatives

s
 

๐ž“–

h
 

๐ž“ž

Nasals

m
 

๐ž“ง

n
 

๐ž“จ

ษฒ
 

๐ž“˜

ษณ
 

๐ž“ฅ

ล‹
 

๐ž“”

Other

w
 

๐ž“ฎ placed below the letter representing the following vowel sound.

r
 

๐ž“ฃ

ษฝ
 

๐ž“ช

l
 

๐ž“’

j
 

๐ž““

Numbers, dates, currency, etc

Digits

Mundari has its own set of digits, with a decimal base.

๐ž“ฐโฃ๐ž“ฑโฃ๐ž“ฒโฃ๐ž“ณโฃ๐ž“ดโฃ๐ž“ตโฃ๐ž“ถโฃ๐ž“ทโฃ๐ž“ธโฃ๐ž“น

Digits may also be written using Latin, Devanagari, Bengali, or Oriya number shapes.wm,6

เฅฆโฃเฅงโฃเฅจโฃเฅฉโฃเฅชโฃเฅซโฃเฅฌโฃเฅญโฃเฅฎโฃเฅฏ
เงฆโฃเงงโฃเงจโฃเงฉโฃเงชโฃเงซโฃเงฌโฃเงญโฃเงฎโฃเงฏ
เญฆโฃเญงโฃเญจโฃเญฉโฃเญชโฃเญซโฃเญฌโฃเญญโฃเญฎโฃเญฏ

Text direction

Mundari text is written horizontally, with lines that flow from top to bottom.

Glyph shaping & positioning

You can experiment with examples using the Mundari character app.

Context-based shaping & positioning

There are no conjuncts in Mundari, and no shaping is needed for letters.

Mundari does have a few combining marks, and these need to be combined with the base appropriately. Some marks may be far enough to the right to slightly overlap the following letter as well.

๐ž“ฉ๐ž“ญ๐ž“– ๐ž“ฉ๐ž“ฌ๐ž“– ๐ž“ฉ๐ž“ฏ๐ž“–
Three combining marks over Mundari letters in the Noto Sans Nag Mundari font. They slightly overlap the following letter also.

Observation: Phonetic transcriptions of words show many that have long, nasalised vowels. It is not clear whether the script shows 2 combining marks together in such a case โ€“ no such combinations were spotted in the online resources linked to below.

Graphemes

In Mundari text, grapheme clusters typically correspond to whole syllables. Where combining marks appear, the combination of base and combining mark still fits within the definition of a grapheme cluster.

Punctuation & inline features

Word boundaries

Words are separated by spaces.

Some compounds and reduplicative phrases are linked by a hyphen, which is called eched.

๐ž“–๐ž“๐ž“งโ€๐ž“จ๐ž“Ÿ

๐ž“–๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“•๐ž“”โ€๐ž“–๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“•๐ž“”

Phrase & section boundaries

See type samples.

,โฃ;โฃ:โฃ.โฃ?โฃ!

Phrase and section boundaries in Mundari use ASCII punctuation.

phrase

,

;

:

sentence

.

?

!

Bracketed text

(โฃ)

Mundari commonly uses ASCII parentheses to insert parenthetical information into text.

  start end
standard

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

Quotations & citations

See type samples.

โ€œโฃโ€โฃโ€˜โฃโ€™

Mundari texts may use quotation marks around quotations. Of course, due to keyboard design, quotations may also be surrounded by ASCII double and single quote marks.

  start end
initial

[U+201C LEFT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK]

[U+201D RIGHT DOUBLE QUOTATION MARK]
nested

[U+2018 LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK]

[U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK]

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

The principal line-break opportunities are inter-word spaces.

Text alignment & justification

Full justification may be achieved by altering the width of inter-word spaces.

Baselines, line height, etc.

tbd

Mundari Bana uses the 'alphabetic' baseline.

In printed text, Mundari Bani has no ascenders or descenders, and all letters and digits are the same height. Combining marks appear above and below the letters.

To give an approximate idea, fig_baselines compares Latin and Mundari glyphs from the only available Unicode-encoded font at the time of writing: Noto Sans Nag Mundari. The height of Mundari letters is set to the Latin x-height, however the combining marks, especially above letters, push out beyond the Latin extensions.

Hhqx๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“ฎ๐ž“จ๐ž“œ๐ž“ฏ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“š๐ž“ญ๐ž“ข๐ž“ฑ๐ž“ฒ๐ž“ณ
Font metrics for Latin text compared with Mundari glyphs in the Noto Sans Nag Mundari font.

Page & book layout

Online resources

  1. Mundari Bhasa Shiskha : A Multilingual Education (Mundari-Odia-English-Hindi)
  2. Seven new Mundari Stories
  3. ๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“จ๐ž“œ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“š ๐ž“ฆ๐ž“•๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“š๐ž“œ๐ž“š ๐ž“ž๐ž“•๐ž“ง๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ (Mundari Gamuidi Hamar)
  4. เฌธเฌนเฌœ เฌฎเญเฌฃเญเฌกเฌพเฌฐเญ€ เฌถเฌฌเญเฌฆ เฌถเฌฟเฌ•เญเฌทเฌพ
  5. ๐ž“ ๐ž“ž๐ž“๐ž“—๐ž“š๐ž“ข๐ž“ ๐ž“’๐ž“ค๐ž“’ ๐ž“ง๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“จ๐ž“œ๐ž“•๐ž“ฃ๐ž“š ๐ž“—๐ž“•๐ž“จ๐ž“š ๐ž“š๐ž“๐ž“Ÿ๐ž“จ

References