Assamese is not a language lacking in the wealth of songs. There were religious ones, composed several hundreds of years back. There were folk songs about ordinary life on earth, composed and edited over the last millennium. And there are the songs of this modern age, hundreds of them, being composed and heard during the last two centuries as well as the present one. There are songs appreciating the melodious warmth of Assam's nature, songs heralding social changes, songs lamenting the inequalities and miseries in Assam and in the world -- there are Assamese songs about almost everything on earth.
But there are only a handful of them on the free, worldwide, open media of this century - the Internet. And there are very few of their lyrics - the texts that communicate their messages. So, I plan to do, with the help of like-minded people of Assam, whatever we can to put the lyrics of the well-known and greatly appreciated Assamese songs on this free, worldwide media.
However, many of us do not know to type in Assamese script in a computer. Even those of us who do, use different Assamese computer-fonts, so that the Assamese text typed in one computer aren’t communicable to other computers via the Internet! The way out, naturally, is to use the English (i.e., Latin or Roman) script, which is available in every computer, tablet pc or phone, to write Assamese text (probably many of us have already done that with a cellphone). To do that here, however, we need to have a uniform, mutually agreed upon scheme to transliterate the assamese-language lyrics into the English script. After careful deliberation and some practice, I am suggesting this transliteration scheme (along with these sample transliterations of three great Assamese songs), which I hope would be able to perfectly communicate the exact Assamese pronunciation of the lyrics to the reader, even if he or she is not comfortable with the Assamese script. Please communicate, at email@example.com, any suggestions - or reservations, if any - to me.
And, all fellow Assamese who love Assamese songs and happen to come across this page, please endeavour to e-mail me carefully typed and checked English-script lyrics, in the pattern used here, of one or two of the great Assamese songs! [However, please don't send them as e-mail attachments -- as sometimes opening attachments becomes quite a pain -- rather just include the lyrics within the text of your e-mail.] In particular, this is the wish-list of some great Assamese songs for which I hope to put the lyrics here some day - please check it to see if you know a few of these songs well (you may also suggest, via e-mail or via the forums, any other songs). Also, please remember to mention your full name, address and a brief two-line introduction along with your lyrics, so that I can acknowledge it here (if necessary, have a look at this sample e-mail).
The transliterations should reflect the way the song is generally sung, mentioning all the repetitions (we’re putting it on silicon only, so not at all short of paper here!).
Next, the general idea is that the Assamese (i.e., the standard-Assamese) pronunciations should be transliterated, not the spellings themselves.
Thus, the long and the short "i" or "u" spellings aren't to be distinguished, as their respective pronunciations are the same. For example, in “tavazayi agni”, the alphabet “i” is identically used to transliterate both the long and the short "i".
The long and the short "a", however, are to be distinguished (e.g., “zananir xantaan zaagaa”), as their respective pronunciations are distinctly different.
Let's use "o" to indicate the pronunciation of “o” found in the English word “open”, even if that comes from the Assamese short “a” with an apostrophe (e.g., “o mwr aapwn paaharaa”), or from just the short “a” without the apostrophe (e.g., “mrityu gosoki aanaa”).
Let's use "x" (as in “xantaan” or “xikhaa”) to transliterate the characteristic Assamese pronunciation that lies somewhat in between "h" and "kh". Please don’t use “s”, “sh” or "xh", etc.
Let's use "s" (as in “biswar sande sande” or “naasaa”) to transliterate any Assamese pronunciation same as that of "s" in the English word "song", no matter whatever be the corresponding Assamese spelling (noting that pronunciation of “ch” or of “chh” is not at all there in Assamese).
Let's use “w” (e.g., “mwr aapwn paaharaa”) in place of the more commonly used "o" to transliterate the characteristic standard-Assamese pronunciation associated with the “o” alphabet in Assamese. For words such as “zagowaa”, that has another “w” sound just following this pronunciation, I think we should make an exception to this rule by choosing “ow” for the pair of repeated pronunciation (as done in “zagowaa”).
Let's use "z" (e.g., “zaagaa”) in place of the more commonly used "j", as only the former corresponds to the relevant Assamese pronunciation. In standard Assamese, there is hardly any occasion to use the alphabet “j”, except in a few words like “jharnaa”.
Let's use transliterations such as “nirakkhar” or “gyaan” instead of Sanskrit-based alternatives such as “nirakshar” or “jnaan”, so as to communicate the actual standard-Assamese pronunciations.
Let's transliterate the Assamese consonant “uabba” as “v” (as in “tavazayi” or “xuvaaxita”) instead of “b” or “w”, except for words such as “zagowaa” or “zowaan” where the “w” sound is obvious (instead of lying somewhere in between “b” and “w”). So, naturally, let's transliterate the Assamese consonant “bha” as “bh” only, and similarly, the consonant "pha" as "ph" only (not as "v" or "f" respectively).
Let's transliterate the ending consonant sound in the English words "long" or "song" as “ng” (as in “naabhaanga kia”), whereas those having a distinct “g” sound as “ngg” (as in “panggu” or “xanggraami”), so as to distinguish between the two sounds.
In cases where the pronunciation for "e" is not the characteristic Assamese one (as in "sande sande") but rather the characteristic Hindi one (as in "tetiaa" or "tamwharadeu"), let's transliterate that sound (as in "tétiaa" or "tamwharadéu") using the "é" symbol. [However, while e-mailing lyrics, you may type just "ee" to mean this character -- I'll get that machine-transformed here.]
Audio forms of two sample songs: Non-Assamese readers might be wondering what the standard Assamese pronunciations exactly are. So, we're also having here the following audio files for the first two sample songs, carefully delivered with such pronunciations. These two songs were kindly delivered for this purpose by Ms. Dhriti Mahanta of Santipur, Guwahati-9, Assam.