Gujarati signs for transliterating Arabic

Posted on Fri 09 May 2014 in unicode

Ismaili communities such as the Ithnashari Khoja (“Twelver Shia”) and Agakhani Khoja use a convention for transliterating Arabic into the Gujarati script. The convention allows for the representation of Arabic letters and signs for which there are no corresponding characters in Gujarati. The diacritics used in the convention are written with Gujarati letters that mostly closely approximate the Arabic sound being represented. The creation of the full set and the first documented printing of these signs was undertaken by the Ithnashari Khoja publisher Gulāmalī Ismāʾil of Bhavnagar, Gujarat in 1901. The characters are now standard elements of the Gujarati orthography used by these communities. Some of these diacritics are shown below, with color coding added, in an excerpt of a printed version of the Qurʾān in the Gujarati script:


I’ve written a proposal to encode these characters as combining signs in the Gujarati block of the Unicode standard. I am interested in communicating with users about these and other signs used in Gujarati for similar purposes. Thank you to Iqbal Akhtar for informing me about these signs.