This volume presents the advances in the ongoing research on Brahmi and its daughter scripts used in the present day India. It brings together two main trends: evolutionary-historical development and linguistic grounding. This is the first attempt to cross-fertilize palaeography and linguistics.
The palaeographic papers cover the main issues in the decipherment of the Indus Valley script, the origin and evolution of Brahmi, and the palaeographic methods and considerations employed in the decipherment of scripts. These present different trends and arguments of writers on the origin of Brahmi as having been around the Mauryan era or at a much earlier stage, relate to broader historical and cultural issues. They also deal with the need for the use of established and more current palaeographic techniques in classifying regional and stylistic variants of scripts.
The linguistic papers in the volume explore the issues of the roots of the orthographic unit akshara in Vedic phonetics, its claim as a minimal articulatory phonetic unit, and the properties of Brahmi as a generative writing system. The philosophical and linguistic underpinning of the concept akshara is shown to thread its use in the varieties of treatises, from the Vedas to phonetic texts. The papers help in providing linguistic evidence for historical accounts of the script as an invention at a given time or as an evolving evolutionary system, apart from relating the development of the script to the linguistic history of India.
Palaeographers -- epigraphists, linguists and computational scientists, will find this volume interesting and useful.