Balti-B is one of a number of scripts that have been used for writing the Balti language, spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan (northern Pakistan) and Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir). The language has variously been written in the Balti (sometimes called Balti-A to distinguish it from Balti-B), Tibetan, Arabic and Devanagari scripts, reflecting the multi-ethnic makeup and eventful political history of the region.
The Balti-B script is currently only known to be attested in one manuscript, “The Story of the Creation of Shigar”. This was written by the grandson of the man believed to have created the script, known only as Farhat. Some scholars believe that the existence of this manuscript is evidence of a Balti historic literary tradition, all other records of which have been lost. If this is the case, it is likely that there is, or was, also an indigenous name for the script; “Balti-B” is proposed as a tentative name until that is discovered.
The script is written from left to right. It is an abugida, with each consonant letter representing a consonant+vowel syllable. By default, this vowel is /a/, but it can be modified with the addition of dependant vowel diacritics. There are 30 consonant letters and 4 vowel diacritics. There is also a “vowel carrier” letter which is used for writing independent vowels (e.g. a vowel at the beginning of a word where there is no preceding consonant to which it can attach). By default this letter represents /a/, but it can also take any of the 4 vowel diacritics in order to represent the other vowels independently. Unlike in other abugidas in this region, there are no conjunct forms for writing consonant clusters; rather, all consonant clusters are written with a virama. A set of digits from 0-9 is also used.
This script is not currently recognized by ISO 15924, but is included in ScriptSource for research purposes. If you have any information on this script, please add the information to the site. Your contributions can be a great help in refining and expanding the ISO 15924 standard.