Thank you so much for all the replies. I'm new to this site and trying to find my way around here. I apologize if my question hadn't come across as properly phrased in accordance to policy this of site.

Coming back to my question, the original discussion in class had raised following points

Devanagari and other Indian scripts are losing relevance because - 1. English is widely used a professional and higher-education language in India 2. Availability of Devanagari keyboards is dwarfed by English keyboards. Similarly, software and user interfaces released and promoted in India are in English, as is much of the computer education available here. 3. Low awareness of Devanagari keyboard layouts. 4. Regional literary scene in almost all Indian language has stagnated while at the same time works written by Indian authors in English are thriving. One of the reason is newer generations find Indian vernaculars irrelevant to there lifestyles, aspiration and experiences. Romanization can be a tool for making vernaculars relevant once again.

Thanks to acattle for suggesting more appropriate framing of question, so here you go-

Which languages have adopted or considered adopting the Roman alphabet in place of an existing script? What factors led to their adoption/rejection? What were socio-cultural consequence if Roman alphabets were adopted?

  • For starts, devanagari-based abugidas (including all Indian orthographies) are usually only readable by Indians. That means that if there is to be anyone ever reading what is written who is not already a native speaker of the language, that person will have to learn to speak and understand it before they can learn to read it. Second, there is a difference in accessibility between an alphabet like Latin has and an abugida like Sanskrit has. The consonant clusters in devanagari are very hard to get right, and it's not much better in daughter orthographies. – jlawler Oct 27 '13 at 17:34
  • I, for one, feel that Indians would be better off if they gave up their scripts. Local scripts are hurting Indians too: when people move from one state to another, and they want to learn the language, they usually have the added headache of learning a new script too. I get the impression that many barely-literate Indians find it easier to read English letters (in movie titles, etc.) than letters of their own language. I could go on, but I'd be writing my opinions. I feel stackexchange's Q/A format is not the right forum for that. – prash Oct 28 '13 at 0:14
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    This question is too opinion-based. There's mostly no way to say what writing system is "better" as there's almost no language whose alphabet is 100% phonemic. Say, [r] in a romanization of French, English, Chinese, Thai, and Russian would mean completely different sounds, not even close. But it is still [r] because of there's no better character. Another point is that linguistics is based on observation. Speculative articles of "what would be better" or "what a language 'must' do" often end up in a humorous style. – bytebuster Oct 28 '13 at 2:57
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    Yet another thing. Many native languages have unique alphabets (like Georgian, Armenian, Thai, Lao, Khmer, Hindi, Gujarati, and Tibetan), and people are proud of it. Even speculation of "what if" they turned to Latin script, would be met with big resistance. – bytebuster Oct 28 '13 at 3:03
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    Heck, you could even make the question even more general: "What factors lead languages to adopt or consider adopting new scripts?" Not only would that include Vietnamese but also Urdu and Persian (who both adopted Arabic script) and even the inventions of Hangul for Korean and Pinyin for Chinese as replacements/supplements for Chinese characters. – acattle Oct 28 '13 at 5:19

"It was suggested that if Indic languages have to survive they must adopt Roman alphabets or else they will quickly lose their relevance". Who made this suggestion? Does he or she know how many millions of people speak Indian languages? I have not seen Hindi etc. on any list of endangered languages.

  • Useful facts on Indian languages are available from the Ethnologue. – jlawler Oct 27 '13 at 22:18
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    I fully endorse your remark @fdb, but i think it would've probably been more appropriate as a comment than a full answer. – P Elliott Oct 28 '13 at 11:00

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