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The nuqta (Hindi: नुक़्ता, Urdu: نقطہ, romanizednuqtā, Persian: نُقطه, romanizednoqte) from Arabic: نقطة, romanizednuqṭah, lit.'dot'; sometimes also spelled nukta) is a diacritic mark that was introduced in Devanagari and some other Indic scripts to represent sounds not present in the original scripts. It takes the form of a dot placed below a character. This idea is inspired from the Arabic script; for example, there are some letters in Urdu that share the same basic shape but differ in the placement of dots(s) or nuqta(s) in the Perso-Arabic script: the letter ع ayn, with the addition of a nuqta on top, becomes the letter غ g͟hayn.[1]

Use in Devanagari[edit]

Perso-Arabic consonants[edit]

The term nuqtā (नुक़्ता) is itself an example of the use of the nuqta. Other examples include क़िला (Urdu: قلعہ), qilā, 'fortress'; and आग़ा ख़ान (Urdu: آغا خان), Āġā K͟hān, a combination of a Perso-Arabic (āġā) and a Turko-Mongolic (k͟hān) honorific.

Nuqta usage in writing Perso-Arabic consonants
Letter With nuqta IPA Example
, ka क़, qa q नुक़्ता, nuqtā, 'point'
, kha ख़, k͟ha, xa x ख़ान, k͟hān
, ga ग़, ġa ɣ ग़ा ख़ान, āġā k͟hān
, ja ज़, za z अंग्रेज़ी, Aṅgrēzī, 'English'
, jha झ़, źa, zha ʒ अझ़दहा, ajhdahā, 'dragon'
, ḍa ड़, ṛa ɽ बड़ा, baṛā, 'big'
, ḍha ढ़, ṛha ɽʰ पढ़ना, paṛhnā, 'to read'
, pha फ़, fa f साफ़, sāf, 'clean'
, va व़, wa w पकव़ान, pakavān, 'dish'

The nuqta, and the phonological distinction it represents, is sometimes ignored in practice; e.g., क़िला qilā being simply spelled as किला kilā. In the text Dialect Accent Features for Establishing Speaker Identity, Manisha Kulshreshtha and Ramkumar Mathur write, "A few sounds, borrowed from the other languages like Persian and Arabic, are written with a dot (bindu or nuktā). Many people who speak Hindi as a second language, especially those who come from rural backgrounds and do not speak conventional Hindi (also called Khariboli), or speak in one of its dialects, pronounce these sounds as their nearest equivalents." For example, these rural speakers will assimilate the sound ɣ (Devanagari: ग़; Urdu: غ) as ɡ (Devanagari: ग; Urdu: گ).[2]

With a renewed Hindi–Urdu language contact, many Urdu writers now publish their works in Devanagari editions. Since the Perso-Arabic orthography is preserved in Nastaʿlīq script Urdu orthography, these writers use the nuqta in Devanagari when transcribing these consonants. Sometimes, व़ is used to explicitly represent the /w/ consonant and to differentiate it from /v/ consonant व.

Dravidian consonants[edit]

Devanagari also includes coverage for the Dravidian consonants , ḻa /ɻ/; , ṟa /r/ and , ṉa /n/. (Respectively, these letters modify , ḷa /ɭ/; , ra /ɾ/ and , na /n̪/). An example is तमिऴ् /t̪amiɻ/ (Tamil: தமிழ்), tamiḻ.

Dardic consonants[edit]

For example, the letters च़ and छ़ are used in Devanagari to write the Kashmiri alveolar affricates ژ /t͡s/ and ژھ /t͡sʰ/ respectively.

Eastern Indo-Aryan letters[edit]

To represent the Eastern Nagari letter য় representing /ɔ/, the consonant य़, ẏa is used in Devanagari.

In Maithili, there are four non-syllabic vowels: i̯, u̯, e̯, o̯ written in Devanagari as य़, व़, य़ॆ, व़ॊ. But colloquially, these are written without nuqta.

Similar diacritics[edit]

Sindhi's and Saraiki's implosives are accommodated in Devanagari with a line attached below—a diacritical bar: [ɠə], [ʄə], [ɗə], ॿ [ɓə].

In Tamil script, the special character (ஆய்த எழுத்து, āyda eḻuttu) is used like nuqta to represent non-native consonants.

In Thaana script of Maldives, one or many nuqtas are added to their native consonants to represent Perso-Arabic consonants, and each phoneme is encoded as a whole in the Unicode block (instead of a separate codepoint for the diacritic).

See also[edit]


Works cited[edit]

  1. ^ Govindaraju, Venu; Setlur, Srirangaraj (Ranga) (25 September 2009). Guide to OCR for Indic Scripts: Document Recognition and Retrieval. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 165. ISBN 9781848003309. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  2. ^ Kulshreshtha, Manisha; Mathur, Ramkumar (24 March 2012). Dialect Accent Features for Establishing Speaker Identity: A Case Study. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 19–. ISBN 9781461411376. Retrieved 20 November 2014.


  • Vajpeyi, K. D. (Kishorī Dās Vājpayī; किशोरीदास वाजपेयी), Hindī shabdanushāsan हिन्दी शब्दनुशासन (1957, 1958, 1973, 1976, 1988).

External links[edit]