Questions surrounding the encoding of speech have been considered since scholars began to consider the history of different writing systems and of writing itself. In modern times, attention has been paid to such issues as standardizing systems for portraying in Roman script, the scripts used for recording other languages, and this has given rise to discussions about distinctions such as that between transliteration and transcription. In recent times, moreover, the advent and general use of digital technology has allowed us not only to replicate with relative ease details of various scripts and to produce machine searchable texts but also to reproduce images of manuscripts that can be viewed and manipulated. At the source of such endeavours lie the facts of language: phonological and phonetic matters that scripts portray with various degrees of fidelity.
The main text is complemented by a series of appendixes, four of which directly concern encoding. The first of these contains thirteen tables, in which are treated not only Sanskrit phonetic and phonological features but also, interestingly, reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European phonology according to different scholars. The second, third and fourth appendixes concern encoding schemes developed within the context of the Sanskrit Library established as a website by Scharf: the Sanskrit Library Phonetic basic encoding scheme, the Sanskrit Library segmental encoding scheme, and the Sanskrit Library phonetic featural encoding scheme.
About the Author(s)
Peter M. Scharf is an expert in Indian Linguistic traditions. After earning his doctorate in Sanskrit at the University of Pennsylvania and studying vyakarana in Varanasi, he taught Sanskrit at Brown University. He is the founder and director of the Sanskrit Library, directed an NSF-funded project to integrate Sanskrit texts, lexical resources, and linguistic software, and currently directs two NEH-funded projects to enhance access to Sanskrit manuscripts and to synthesize and revise Sanskrit lexical sources.