Many features of pronunciation are shared by all languages of southern Asia. An important example is the distinction between one form of t, made with the tongue against the top teeth, and another form of t, made with the tip of the tongue curling back against the roof of the mouth.
Another feature is the use of a consonant pronounced with a release of breath. In English script this is shown by adding h (in such words as Sikh).
India has different ways of writing its languages. Most of these written forms, or scripts, come from an ancient Indian script called Brahmi. Most regional languages have their own script, which helps give each region a sense of its own identity.
The scripts run from left to right. There is no equivalent to capital letters. The script usually used for Sanskrit, which is called Devanagari or Nagari, is also used for Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali.
The Roman script used for European languages has the individual letter as its basic unit. In Indian scripts, however, the basic unit is the whole syllable--a consonant plus a vowel.
The numerals in Indian scripts are the origin of the "Arabic" numerals used in European writing systems. This is because Arabic numerals, borrowed by Europeans, were themselves borrowed from India by the Arabs.
The scripts used for most northern Indian languages are closely related to Devanagari. South Indian scripts generally have a much rounder shape. This is probably because they were originally written on palm leaves, and straight, horizontal lines were avoided because they would cut into the fibre of the leaf.
The script used for Urdu is the Persian script introduced by the Turks and Afghans. It runs from right to left. It has been slightly modified to accommodate some Indian sounds.
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