Script and Language

Harappan script is regarded as pictographic since its signs represent birds, fish, varieties of the human form etc. The number of signs of the Harappan script is known to be between 400 and 600 of which 40 or 60 are basic and the rest are their variants. The variants are formed by adding different accents, inflexions or other letters to the former. The language of the Harappans is still unknown and must remain so until the script is read. There are two main arguments as to the nature of the language that it belongs to the Indo-European or even Indo-Aryan family or that it belongs to the Dravidian family.

The approach followed by Kinnier-Wilson is to find analogies between Harappan and Sumerian signs.S R Rao has produced a different attempt to read the script as containing a pre-Indo-Aryan language of the Indo-European family. An attempt has been made by Natwar Jha a palaeographist and Vedic scholar who says that script is syllabic that is no vowels are written. Semitic languages like Phoenician and Arabic use the syllabic system. Since no word in these languages begins with a vowel the writing does not create any problems in comprehension. Jha claims to have deciphered about 3500 inscriptions on seals.

According to Rajaram the script is both pictorial and alphabetic; alphabets are favoured to the pictures in the later stages. He also finds close connection between the Brahmi and the Indus script. Most of the writing is from left to right and not the other way. Many ancient scripts like Phoenician, various Aramaics and Hemiaretic are connected to or even derived from Harappan. This is contrary to the currently held view that all alphabetic writing descended from Phoenician in the late second millennium BC.