Yes, Thai Pali script makes more sense to me than Sinhala.
I guess the issue is that the Sinhala script brahched from the south indian Kadamba / Kannada script which in turn branched out from the late Brahmi script (aka Gupta) much earlier in the timeline.
Hence has its own shapes inspired by the more abstract and less systematized brahmi script itself.
I really appreciate the systematization or patterns brought by Devanagari, also found in Tibetan, Bengali, etc (i.e. the top line which forces some orientation and allows for a quicker memorization and differentiation between characters imho).
I think it just depends on familiarity. To me the Thai alphabet looks like the letters are all the same. It’s true though, that when first learning it seems like there are only about 5 or 6 different letters.
The letter ka may not be the best example for the vowel symbol. The u is made in a different way for most other letters.
Looks like your chart is missing the pure nasal ṁ called the binduwa. It’s the letter you see as the last character in the Dhp verse.
In contemporary Pali written in Sinhala, the binduwa is often substituted for nasals even inside of words. And the real letter for ṅ is almost never used.
In traditional Pali written in Sinhala, the vowel remover symbol is never used and instead the letters touch each other where the vowel is removed. This is how the BJT edition is written, as well as older chanting books, etc. It’s quite interesting because the same symbol (called a hal-kirima, looks like a little flag) is used both as a vowel remover for consonants as well as a vowel lengthener for the letter e and o. Since all the e’s and o’s are long in Pali (with exeptions) that means that the hal-kirima is never used in the traditional Pali system and the untrained reader would think that the o and e were short. Which of course is the same situation in standard Roman transliteration.
But the Thais also used Âksâr khâm a lot, which is replete with straight lines and sharp angles.
Âksâr khâm (អក្សរខម) is a style used in Pali palm-leaf manuscripts. It is characterized by sharper serifs and angles and retainment of some antique characteristics, notably in the consonant kâ (ក). This style is also for yantra tattoos and yantras on cloth, paper, or engravings on brass plates in Cambodia as well as in Thailand.
You’re very right. And that script is even more complex!
Have you ever seen any text in the Ariyaka script created by King Mongkol?
The Ariyaka alphabet was invented by King Mongkut Rama IV of Siam (1804-1868) as an alternative alphabet for Pali. He considered the Khmer alphabet, which was commonly used to write Pali, to be too complicated and decided to create an alphabet that was easier to use and more Western in appearance.
The King devised printed and handwritten versions of the alphabet, and because printing was not widespread at the time and missionaries controlled the printing houses, he set up his own printing house and published a number of books in Pali using the Ariyaka alphabet.
When corresponding with Buddhist monks in other countries, especially Sri Lanka, the King wrote in Pali in the Ariyaka alphabet, and also in the Latin and Khmer alphabets. Some of the Sri Lankan monks wrote back using the Ariyaka alphabet. He hoped that his alphabet would be come the standard alphabet for Pali.
It would be great to have Pali texts in SuttaCentral rendered in the Ariyaka script! It is so beautiful! Any chance that could happen bhante @sujato?
No. I’d heard about it but this is the first time I’ve seen it. A bit ugly, I think. If one really doesn’t care about looks and is aiming for maximal utility, I should think a better option would be a modification of the Shavian script.