Moultan / Wuch type

In Other Scripts by HindiRinny4 Comments

From The Bible of every land : a history of the Sacred Scriptures in every language and dialect…, printed by Samuel Bagster and Sons, London. Date of this edition is unknown.

Here’s a surprise! An alphabet of “Moultan or Wuch”, found in a large, dusty polyglot bible, found at the William Carey library of Serampore College, Kolkata. The amazing has a copy of the entire book scanned and available for browsing/download. A huge file, but possibly an excellent resource for script researchers!
Update: 4/2015
As Chris Miller has noted in the comments, script researcher and activist Anushman Pandey has included a wealth of information about the script in his Multani unicode proposal. Be sure to take a look!

By the way, here’s a brief intro to the Landa scripts via Wikipedia. The Landa scripts were unconnected scripts used by mercantiles, i.e. for quick, informal handwriting.



  1. Author

    Haha, Chris to the rescue, again! Thanks!! I forgot to check Anshuman’s blog before posting this. He’s done some great work! So wait, do you work for Unicode, or do you teach somewhere?? I found your paper about scripts from Indonesia and the Philippines online! Tell us more about you!…

  2. I did recently do a report for the Script Encoding Initiative on unencoded Philippine and Indonesian scripts: is that the one you’re referring to? It was just a one-time thing for the SEI but I have a couple of proposals envisioned for the future based on the information in the report.

    I really came into this whole topic by accident. I’m a sign language linguist, with most of my research in phonology. A bit over a year ago I was working on a long-term interest of mine, the question of a writing/transcription system that would represent all the complex elements of sign language structure while remaining simple in structure. Since sign languages inevitably incorporate elements from the surrounding written/spoken language (by fingerspelling or mouthing words), designing such a script to be usable for multiple sign languages requires it to be compatible with multiple scripts, not just Latin. Since this applies not only to complex interactions when the script would be mixed with another existing script, but also for typographic compatibility, I studied up on typography and considered a few relatively less widely used but important and challenging scripts, including Arabic and the Devanagari-Gujarati pair.

    For completely different reasons, I became familiar with the old Philippine Baybayin (Tagalog script in Unicodese), and looking at it after becoming familiar with Gujarati, I was almost immediately struck by how directly the letter shapes (although quite different) were related to corresponding Gujarati or classic Devanagari letters by way of changes that can be described in the same systematic way as when linguists compare relationships between the sound patterns of related languages. Since the origins of the Philippine script have been mysterious until now (like the Sumatran and Sulawesi scripts), I realised it was worthwhile writing something on the subject. When I reconstructed a proto-script based on the correspondences between Gujarati/Devanagari and Philippine script, the proto-script suddenly revealed the same kinds of systematic relationships with Sumatran scripts that couldn’t be detected by comparing them directly.

    I wrote a paper on an early version of this research for the proceedings of last year’s Berkeley Linguistics Society meeting but have continued developing my ideas since. I’m working on a detailed model of character structure (from a chirographic i.e. handwriting point of view) that uses concepts both from typography and from my work on the structure of movement in signs applied to two-dimensional writing. I’ve also chased after every source I could get my hands on for Indic scripts (including Anshuman’s escellent body of work), which has given me a far clearer understanding of the history of the Gujarati-Kaithi-Mahajani continuum and its relationship to Devanagari. Hence my interest in your lovely blog and my eagerness to contribute whatever snippets of knowledge I feel I can volunteer!

    But one of the most surprising results of this all is the near certainty that these isolated, relatively unknown “regional” scripts of Indonesia and the Philippines are descended from a probably 14th century early informal mercantile variety of Devanagari that was developing into the precursor of modern Gujarati script (and Kaithi, Sourashtra and Mahajani elsewhere in India). Who’d have known that a youthful Gujarati script left a clutch of secret children in those faraway ports!

    I haven’t done any teaching related to this, but once I get my research out and hopefully published, I would enjoy the opportunity to give talks for anyone interested.

  3. Anshuman Pandey has a new entry up on his blog today (May 1) with a couple of images from a new proposal in progress for encoding Multani script in Unicode:

    I think one of his images is the same page you have illustrated above.

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