While writing the “Telugu Notes” for the Aksharamukha convertor, I suddenly remembered seeing the usage of Repha in Telugu script somewhere. Modern Telugu doesn’t use any Repha symbol. But its sister script, Kannada preserves the usage of Repha till to this day.
For those who do not know what exactly a Repha is, It is basically a special symbol to denote pre-consonantal /ra/. Such as in these words sarva, varga etc. Many Brahmic Scripts possess a repha.
Back to what I was speaking about, yeah so, I recollected that I has seen the usage of Telugu Repha in old version of a Telugu Bible that was published in 1860.. On searching my pdf dumps in my PC, I found the file which I had downloaded, probably from archive.org long time ago.
The Title of the book itself had a prominent Repha :
yōhānu vrāsina suvārta – యోహాను వ్రాసిన సువార్త
The word final symbol appearing the end of the title is the Repha. BTW the title means “Gospel written by John“
It was interesting to note the usage of Repha in the Telugu script. Modern Telugu script does not use Repha at all. But it seems that Repha had been used in Telugu published until 1860. So, within a short time Repha seems to have fell out of use in favor of the usual otttu conjuncts.
Other examples of Repha from the book:
The Kannada script still retains this composite /o/ for all its consonants.
pōvunō – పోవునో
voka – వొక
sahōdarininni – సహోదరినిన్ని
Forgot about this, the Front page of the book says,
ādima grēku bhāsalōnuṁci tenugulō raciṁcabaḍinadi
ఆదిమ గ్రేకు భాసలోనుంచి తెనుగులో రచించబడినది
The Language is referred to as Tenugu, rather than Telugu :-/
One could imagine the difficulty associated with typesetting a very complex script such as Telugu in those days. To end with the concluding note, the book was published in Chennai (a.k.a Madras) :-).
I always though that Chennai could have been a shared capital between Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh like Chandigarh. But politics turned it otherwise.. Hmm….