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Diacritics in Latin & Greek
double acute?
double grave ?
caron, há?ek?
inverted breve  ̑  
diaeresis, umlaut¨
palatal hook  ?
retroflex hook  ?
hook above, d?u h?i ?
horn ?
iota subscript ͅ 
ogonek, nosin??
perispomene ͂ 
rough breathing?
smooth breathing?
Marks sometimes used as diacritics
full stop/period.
Diacritical marks in other scripts
Arabic diacritics
Early Cyrillic diacritics
kamora ҄
pokrytie ?
titlo ?
Hebrew diacritics
Indic diacritics
anusvara? ? ? ?
avagraha? ? ? ? ? ?
chandrabindu? ? ?
virama? ? ? ? ? ?
visarga? ? ? ?
Gurmukh? diacritics
Khmer diacritics
Thai diacritics
IPA diacritics
Japanese kana diacritics
dakuten ?
handakuten ?
Syriac diacritics
Dotted circle?
Punctuation marks
Logic symbols

Anusvara (Sanskrit: anusv?ra) is a symbol used in many Indic scripts to mark a type of nasal sound, typically transliterated ⟨?⟩. Depending on its location in the word and the language for which it is used, its exact pronunciation can vary. In the context of ancient Sanskrit, anusvara is the name of the particular nasal sound itself, regardless of written representation.


In Vedic Sanskrit, the anusv?ra (lit. "after-sound" or "subordinate sound")[1] was an allophonic (derived) nasal sound.

The exact nature of the sound has been subject to debate. The material in the various ancient phonetic treatises points towards different phonetic interpretations, and these discrepancies have historically been attributed to either differences in the description of the same pronunciation[2] or to dialectal or diachronic variation.[3][4] In a 2013 reappraisal of the evidence, Cardona concludes that these reflect real dialectal differences.[5]

The environments in which the anusvara could arise, however, were well defined. In the earliest Vedic Sanskrit, it was an allophone of /m/ at a morpheme boundary, or of /n/ within morphemes, when it was preceded by a vowel and followed by a fricative (/?/, /?/, /s/, /h/).[1] In later Sanskrit its use expanded to other contexts, first before /r/ under certain conditions, then, in Classical Sanskrit, before /l/ and /y/.[1] Later still, Pini gave anusvara as an alternative pronunciation[of what?] in word-final sandhi, and later treatises also prescribed it at morpheme junctions and within morphemes.[6] In the later written language, the diacritic used to represent anusvara was optionally used to indicate a nasal stop having the same place of articulation as a following plosive.

Devanagari script

In the Devanagari script, anusvara is represented with a dot (bindu) above the letter (e.g. ). In the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST), the corresponding symbol is ? (m with an underdot). Some transcriptions render notation of phonetic variants used in some Vedic shakhas with variant transcription (?).

In writing Sanskrit, the anusvara is often used as an alternative representation of the nasal stop with the same place of articulation as the following plosive. For example, [?] 'limb (of the body)' may be written with either a conjunct, ? a?ga, or with an anusvara, a?ga. A variant of the anusvara, the anun?sika or 'candrabindu', was used more explicitly for nasalized vowels, as in aa for [?] 'portion'.[7]


In Standard Hindi, the anusv?ra is traditionally defined as representing a nasal consonant homorganic to a following plosive, in contrast to the candrabindu (anun?sika), which indicates vowel nasalization. In practice, however, the two are often used interchangeably.

The precise phonetic value of the phoneme, whether it is represented by anusv?ra or candrabindu, is dependent on the phonological environment.[8]

Word-finally it is realized as nasalization of the preceding vowel: ku [kã:], "a well". It results in vowel nasalization also medially between a short vowel and a non-obstruent (ku?var [k?r] "a youth", gas? [?a:sa:] "a long-handled axe") and, in native words, between a long vowel and a voiceless plosive (dt [dã:t] "tooth", sp [sã:p] "a snake", pch [p?:t] "tail").

It is pronounced as a homorganic nasal, with the preceding vowel becoming nasalized allophonically, in the following cases: between a long vowel and a voiced plosive (tb? [ta:mba:] "copper", cd? [t?a:ndi:] "silver"), between a long vowel and a voiceless plosive in loanwords (dt [da:nt] "repressed", bai?k [bæ:?k] "a bank", khazc? [kza:?t?i:]), and between a short vowel and an obstruent (sa?bh?l- [s?mb?a:l] "to support", sa?d?k [s?ndu:k] "a chest").

The last rule has two sets of exceptions where the anusv?ra effects only a nasalization of the preceding short vowel. Words from the first set are morphologically derived from words with a long nasalized vowel (ba- [b], "to be divided" from b- [bã?], "to divide"; si?c [st?ai], "irrigation" from sc- [s?:t?], "to irrigate"). In such cases, the vowel is sometimes denasalized ([b], [s?t?ai] instead of [b-], [st?ai]). The second set is composed of a few words like (pahu?c- [paht?], "to arrive" and ha?s- [hs], "to laugh").[note 1]


In Marathi the anusvara is pronounced as a nasal that is homorganic to the following consonant (with the same place of articulation). For example, it is pronounced as the dental nasal before dental consonants, as the bilabial nasal before bilabial consonants, etc.[] Unlike in other Indic languages, in Marathi the same dot designating anusvara is also used to mark a retension of the inherent vowel (it is placed over a consonant after which the short central vowel is to be pronounced and not elided).


In Nepali, chandrabindu and anusvara have the same pronunciation similarly to Hindi. Therefore, there is a great deal of variation regarding which occurs in any given position. Many words containing anusvara thus have alternative spellings with chandrabindu instead of anusvara and vice versa.

Other Indic script languages

Anusvara is used in other languages using Indic scripts as well, usually to represent suprasegmental phones (such as phonation type or nasalization) or other nasal sounds.


Bengali Letter Anusvara.svg

In the Bengali script, the anusvara diacritic ( onushshar in Bengali) is written as a circle above a slanted line (?), and represents . It is used in the name of the Bengali language [ba?la]. It has merged in pronunciation with the letter ? ungô in Bengali. Although the anusvara is a consonant in Bengali phonology, it is nevertheless treated in the written system as a diacritic in that it is always directly adjacent to the preceding consonant, even when consonants are spaced, apart in titles or banners: ---? bang-la-de-sh, not -?---? ba-ng-la-de-sh for Bangladesh It is never pronounced with the inherent vowel "ô", and it cannot take a vowel sign (instead, the consonant ? ungô is used pre-vocalically).


In the Burmese script, the anusvara ( auk myit IPA: [a mj]) is represented as a dot underneath a nasalised final to indicate a creaky tone (with a shortened vowel). Burmese also uses a dot above to indicate the /-?/ nasalized ending (called "Myanmar Sign Anusvara" in Unicode), called thay thay tin (IPA: [?é ðé t?])


In the Sinhala script, the anusvara is not a nonspacing combining mark but a spacing combining mark. It has circular shape and follows its base letter ( ?).[9] It is called binduva in Sinhala, which means "dot". The anusvara represents at the end of a syllable. It is used in fact, in the name of the Sinhala language ['sil?]. It has merged in pronunciation with the letter ? ?a in Sinhala.


The Telugu script has full-zero (anusv?ra) ? , half-zero (arthanusv?ra) and visarga to convey various shades of nasal sounds. Anusvara is represented as a circle shape after a letter:[10] ? - ka and - kam.


The equivalent of the anusvara in the Thai alphabet is the nikkhahit, which is used when rendering Sanskrit and Pali texts. It is written as an open circle above the consonant (for example ) and its pronunciation depends on the following sound: if it is a consonant then the nikkhahit is pronounced as a homorganic nasal, and if it is at the end of a word it is pronounced as the velar nasal ?.[]


Anunasika (anun?sika) is a form of vowel nasalization, often represented by an anusvara. It is a form of open mouthed nasalization, akin to the nasalization of vowels followed by "n" or "m" in Parisian French. When "n" or "m" follow a vowel, the "n" or "m" becomes silent and causes the preceding vowel to become nasal (pronounced with the soft palate extended downward so as to allow part or all of the air to leave through the nostrils). Anunasika is sometimes called a subdot because of its IAST representation.

In Devanagari and related orthographies, it is represented by the chandrabindu diacritic (example? ).

In Burmese, the anunasika, called (IPA: [?é ðé t?]) and represented as ⟨?⟩, creates the /-/ nasalized ending when it is attached as a dot above a letter. The anunasika represents the -m final in Pali.


Unicode encodes anusvara and anusvara-like characters for a variety of scripts:

South Asian scripts
Script Sign Example Unicode
Bengali  ? U+0982
Bengali Vedic ? U+09FC
Bhaiksuki  ? U+11C3D
Brahmi  ? U+11001
Chakma  𑄁 ?𑄁 U+11101
Devanagari  ? U+0902
Dhives Akuru  ? U+1193B
Dogra  ? U+11837
Grantha  ? U+11302
Grantha Vedic ? U+1135E
Grantha Vedic (double) ? U+1135F
Grantha (combining above)  ? U+11300
Gujarati  ? U+0A82
Gunjala Gondi  ? U+11D95
Gurmukhi  ? U+0A02
Kaithi  ? U+11081
Kannada  ? U+0C82
Kharosthi  ? U+10A0E
Khojki  ? U+11234
Khudabadi  ? U+112DF
Malayalam  ? U+0D02
Malayalam (combining above)  ? U+0D00
Malayalam Vedic  ? U+0D04
Marchen  ? U+11CB5
Masaram Gondi  ? U+11D40
Modi  ? U+1163D
Nandinagari  ? U+119DE
Odia  ? U+0B02
Prachalit Nepal  ? U+11444
Prachalit Nepal (Vedic) ? U+1145F
Sharada  ? U+11181
Saurashtra  ? U+A880
Siddham  ? U+115BD
Sinhala  ? U+0D82
Soyombo  ? U+11A96
Sylheti Nagari  ? U+A80B
Takri  ? U+116AB
Telugu  ? U+0C02
Telugu (Prakrit)[11] (combining above)  ? U+0C04
Tibetan (rjes su nga ro)  ? U+0F7E
Tirhuta  ? U+114C0
Zanabazar Square  ? U+11A38
Southeast Asian scripts
Script Sign Example Unicode
Balinese  ? U+1B02
Burmese  ? U+1036
Javanese  ? U+A981
Khmer  ? U+17C6
Lao  ? U+0ECD
Sundanese  ? U+1B80
Tai Tham (mai kang)  ? U+1A74
Thai  ? U+0E4D

See also


  1. ^ Ohala (1983, p. 90) lists five more such words: dha?s- "to sink", pha?s- "to be stuck", ha?sl? "a necklace", ha?siy? "a sickle" and ha?s? "laughter".


  1. ^ a b c Allen 1953, p. 40.
  2. ^ Whitney, cited in Emeneau 1946, p. 91
  3. ^ Varma 1961, pp. 148-55.
  4. ^ Emeneau 1946, p. 91.
  5. ^ Cardona 2013.
  6. ^ Allen 1953, p. 41.
  7. ^ William Bright, "The Devanagari Script", in Daniels & Bright, The World's Writing Systems, OUP, 1996.
  8. ^ The following rules are from Ohala (1983, pp. 87-90)
  9. ^ See an example in Anshuman Pandey's Proposal to encode a nasal character in Vedic Extensions, L2/17-117R.
  10. ^ Chenchiah, P.; Rao, Raja Bhujanga (1988). A History of Telugu Literature. Asian Educational Services. p. 18. ISBN 81-206-0313-3.
  11. ^ A, Srinidhi; A, Sridatta (2016-10-20). "L2/16-285: Proposal to encode the TELUGU SIGN COMBINING ANUSVARA ABOVE" (PDF).


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