Kannada is one of the oldest Dravidian languages and is spoken in its various dialects by roughly 45 million people. It is the state language of Karnataka, one of the four southern states in India.
The language has 52 characters in its alphabet and is phonetic, but cannot represent all phonemes. The script itself, which resembles the Telugu script, is fairly complicated like most other languages of India owing to the occurrence of various combinations of "half-letters", or symbols that attach to various letters in a manner similar to the aigue, grave, and cédille marks in Romance languages. The alphabet is classified into three categories: swaras (or vowels), vyanjanas (or consonants) and yogavaahas (part vowel/part consonants).
The script is assigned the Unicode codepoints: 0C80-0CFF (3200-3327).
Note: Unicode character entities used below. You will need a font that supports Kannada to see the characters. English transliterations based on Unicode character names listed next to symbol.
The swaras are: ಅ (a), ಆ (aa), ಇ (i), ಈ (ii), ಉ (u), ಊ (uu), ಋ (rr), ಎ (e), ಏ (ee), ಐ (ai), ಒ (o), ಓ (oo), ಔ (ou)
The vyanjanas are based on where the tongue touches the palate of the mouth and are classified accordingly into five structured groups. The last letter in each of the groups are the anunasikas (nasals).
- ಕ (ka), ಖ (kha), ಗ (ga), ಘ (gha), ಙ (nga) -- gutturals, or velars (throat)
- ಚ (ca), ಛ (cha), ಜ (ja), ಝ (jha), ಞ (nya) -- palatals (back part of palate)
- ಟ (tta), ಠ (ttha), ಡ (dda), ಢ (ddha), ಣ (nna) -- cerebrals, or retroflex consonants (middle part of palate)
- ತ (ta), ಥ (tha), ದ (da), ಧ (dha), ನ (na) -- dentals (back of the teeth)
- ಪ (pa), ಫ (pha), ಬ (ba), ಭ (bha), ಮ (ma) -- labials (lips)
The unstructured consonants are: ಯ (ya), ರ (ra), ಲ (la), ವ (va), ಶ (sha), ಷ (ssa), ಸ (sa), ಹ (ha), ಳ (lla)
The yogavaahas include the anusvara: ಂ (am), and the visarga: ಃ (ah)
The decimal numbers in the script are: ೦ (0), ೧ (1), ೨ (2), ೩ (3); ೪ (4), ೫ (5), ೬ (6), ೭ (7), ೮ (8), ೯ (9)