Bringing order to sound
One of the greatest creations of humankind is Language. Language is, by itself, complex comprising multiple grammatical rules, writing techniques, and different writing styles such as poetry and prose.
Language is the outcome of wonderful design. The greatness of its design is that it is sustainable and indeed, future-proof. An apt example of such sustainable timeless design is that of Indian languages. This is quite extraordinary and unique when compared to other languages spoken across the world.
Language groups in Indian subcontinent
The languages spoken in this subcontinent, especially their written form, can be grouped into two broad categories. Devanagiri script, that is popularly seen in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi and other languages, has its origins from the Brahmi script. Interestingly, it is said to be visually similar to the script of South Indian language variety that is said to be based on Nandinagari script.
If you observe any language closely, you would notice that they consist of several vowels and many consonants. For example, almost all Indian languages have vowels such as A, Aa, E, Ee, U, Ooh… and consonants that include Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha and so on.
An interesting pattern
Have you noticed an interesting pattern here? This is about grouping certain consonants in one sequence and grouping few others in the next. This grouping is done based on what parts of vocal chords are used to utter the consonants.
For example, the first sequence involves consonants such as Ka, Kha, Ga, and Gha. A major effort here involves usage of the epiglottis only and not the tongue.
The next sequence involves consonants such as Cha, ChCha, Ja, and Jha. To utter every consonant, you have to hit the tongue to the roof of the mouth. The next sequence involves the consonants Ṭa, Ṭha, Ḍa, and Ḍha. A substantial effort will involve using epiglottis as well as tongue to hit the roof of the mouth hard. The next sequence is Ta, Tha, Da, and Dha. All the consonants require more or less similar effort. The final piece involves the consonants Pa, Pha, Ba, Bha, and Ma. Here there is a need to open and close the lips each time to utter these consonants.
The creator of the language system has observed this carefully and placed similar consonants together so as to improve the receptivity of the learner.
Indian languages were developed thousands of years ago but imagine how a simple design phenomenon of patterns has gone into its genesis! Languages have not only flourished for ages, but have helped in the creation of timeless literature, novels and epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and holy books like the Bhagwad Gita, to name a few.
For anything to become sustainable and flourish for ages to come, Design is critical.
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Author is also a deep researcher of culture, tradition and social fabric that shaped the thinking of different communities and faith systems. He works closely with the Gram Panchayat system to bring a design mindset for sustainable change. His years of research work in connecting Design Thinking elements in various sectors is now captured in a comprehensive book UnMukt: Science and Art of Design Thinking which can be downloaded for free from http://d-thinking.com/registration/register.php
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