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Symbols & Transliteration - Certain symbols are used in Carnatic musical notation. An explanation for some of these is given below. Below that, is the transliteration scheme for many lyrics and terms on this site. Terms are as in the glossary. If you find a symbol you don't understand, please write so it can be added.

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traditional symbol on these pages meaning example (based on these pages)
one line over swaras (indicated by taaLa notation) double speed from normal a line over pdpmgrsn will make it last only 4 aksharakalas instead of 8
double line over swaras (indicated by taaLa notation) 4 times speed of normal two lines over pdpmgrsn will make it last only 2 aksharakalas
lower case swara lower case swara madhya staayi swara srgmpdn
upper case swara comma after swara extend note to an extra aksharakala s,rg
dot over swara upper case swara taara staayi swara srgmpdnS
dot below swara dot to right of swara mandra staayi swara ndpmgrsn.d.n.s
two dots over swara apostrophe next to uppercase swara ati taara staayi swara SRGMPDNS'NDPMGRSn
two dots below swara two dots to right of swara anu mandra staayi swara sn.d.p.m.g.r.s.n..d..n..s.
string of dots string of dots aakaaram kaa...maa...kshee....
vertical line vertical line end of a section of a taaLa or phrase srgm pdns | sndp mgrs
double vertical line double vertical line end of a taaLa cycle, aavartanam srgm pdns sndp mgrs ||
comma comma 1/4 eDuppu, one aksharakaala ,srg mpdn s,,, ,,,,
semicolon semicolon or 2 commas 1/2 eDuppu, 2 aksharakaalas ;rg m,,p
semicolon plus comma semicolon plus comma or 3 commas 3/4 eDuppu, 3 aksharakaalas ;,r g,,, mpdn s,,,
wavy line over swaras wave below swaras kampita gamaka srgmpdns
asterisk asterisk anya swara s r2 g3 m1 p m2* d2 n3 S
dash dash splitting of phrases by pattern srg - rgm - gmp

The transliteration scheme is below. The letter we use is given first (lowercase or uppercase IS important in most cases), then the sound it makes, an example English word for the sound, an example lyric word (in Hindi, Tamil, Sanskrit) or term, and finally (if any) an explanation.

letter sound English lyric explanation
a uh bus mandra short a
A, aa aaa far maataa extended a
i ih pin nin short i
I, ee eee flee shree long e
u oogh put muDi short u
U, oo oooh moon cooDa long u
e eh pet neeve, telisi short e
E ay nay, hay sutE long a
ay, ey ayee weigh sey long a + y
ai, y aii kite vairi long i
o oh rock, for mrokka in between short o
O ohh road, home mODi long o
ow, ou oww found, south sowkiyam ow sound
k ka kick vikrama hard k, c
kh k-ha book-hop khaNDa aspirated k
g ga good, egg suragaNa hard g sound
gh g-ha dog-house ghana aspirated g
c cha charm calamEla ch sound
ch ch-ha beach-house chaaya aspirated ch
j ja jay, reg jagan, vajra hard j sound
jh j-ha hedgehog jhaala aspirated j
T ta top venkaTa t sound
Th t-ha anthill viTThala aspirated t
D da dog viDu d sound
Dh d-ha mad-hop viDhala aspirated d
t th thing tiru hard th sound
th th-h bath-house mathuraa aspirated th
d dh there madana soft th
dh dh-ha bathe-hee dharma aspirated soft th
n n now manam n sound
N ln darnit (no equivalent) vaNNa N, tongue back
ng nga stringy mangaLa ng, back of throat
ny, gn nya banyan gnaana ny, back of throat
p p pot pin p sound
ph p-ha uphill phal aspirated p
b b bin baala b sound
bh b-ha clubhouse bhoota aspirated b
m m mom manam m sound
y ya yes yaar short y sound
r r rrip para hard r
R trrr rrruffles paTRa harder r
zha rlya furry (no equivalent) pazham ry, back of throat
l l lollipop lankaa l (el) sound
L rla (no equivalent) mangaLa l, back of throat
v v every, very veera v sound
w w, wo wish, swing swaagatam w sound
s s hiss, see saraseeruha s sound
sh sh hush shilangi soft sh, front of mouth
shh, S shh shut shhanmuga hard sh, back of mouth
h h hard hameer h sound
Tca, tca tcha match, itch matca tcha sound
ksha ksha rikshaw vraksha ksha sound
f f feel, if ferOz f sound
z z zoo, fizz zindagi z sound

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updated on 07/21/2011