About Alphabets
An Alphabet is a set of letters or symbols in a fixed order used to represent the basic set of speech sounds of a language. The speech sounds are called consonants and vowels, and in an alphabet they are represented by character symbols all of which have equal status.

  • Latin Alphabet
    Most European languages use the Latin alphabet, and so puzzles in any of these languages can be constructed after a suitable dictionary has been compiled. Compiling such a dictionary within Crossword Express is a simple matter using the Dictionary Maintenance feature, and can be done quite quickly if you teach yourself to use the import functions available.

  • Cyrillic and Greek Alphabets
    These dictionaries use character sets which are vastly different to those used by the Latin Alphabet. However all of these characters are included in the Unicode Standard used by Crossword Express, and so suitable dictionaries can be constructed and used to build crosswords for these languages as well. Auxiliary Keyboard controls are available in the Dictionary Edit function to give you easy access to the required letters.

  • Arabic and Hebrew Alphabets
    These alphabets also use their own unique character sets, but have the additional distinction that words and sentences flow from right to left (RtoL). When creating such a dictionary you must set the RtoL option for both words and clues. If you forget to do this during the creation phase, you can use the Edit Properties function of Dictionary Maintenance to make the necessary change at a later stage.
About Abugidas
For some languages, the entities defining the components and rules which specify the language are far more complex than alphabets, and are called Abugidas. They are best described by reference to a typical word of a language which is defined by the Abugida in question. For example the Nepali language uses the Devanagari Abugida and a typical word of this language is अन्त्यका which has the English translation the end. It may not be immediately obvious, but this word has three elements which I will refer to as characters. (From the point of view of a crossword puzzle they perform the same function as the letters of an alphabet.) These characters are अ, न्त्य and का.
  • : This is an Independent vowel which sounds like the Latin letter A, and requires only a single code point within the Unicode Standard. Normally an Independent vowel is only used when a vowel sound doesn't follow a consonant (mostly when it is the first character of a word).
  • न्त्य : This character consists of three consonants, made up of the following five Unicode code points   न ् त ् य
    The consonants are  न त and . At this point, you need to be aware of the fact that every Devanagari consonant contains an inherent vowel sound which is usually (always ?) a. That's fine if an a is what you want. If it isn't, then the inherent vowel must be suppressed, and that is the job of the two appearances of which is a special Unicode code point called a Virama. The retains its inherent vowel. The final character can be seen to contain certain elements of three consonants joined together as a unified whole. In this form it is called a ligature. Many different ligatures are possible in languages which use the Devanagari abugida and in a crossword, each ligature behaves in the same way as a letter in a crossword built from an alphabet.
  • का : This letter consists of the Unicode code points क and ा. The क is the consonant, but it's normal inherent vowel is changed by means of the Dependent vowel sign ा. This sign suppresses the inherent vowel a and replaces it with aa.
The Devanagari Abugida
There are many Abugidas in regular use throughout the world, but this section of Crossword Express concerns itself only with the Devanagari Abugida, and in particular, the construction of crosswords for languages which use it. There are over 120 such languages and this function will be able to construct crosswords for any one of them after a suitable dictionary has been constructed. A partial list of these languages would include Sanskrit, Hindi, Nepali, Marathi, Magahi, Santali, Kashmiri and Awadhi.

The Crossword Express download package contains dictionaries for Hindi and Nepali which will make it very easy for you to make your first crosswords in these languages. However a couple or warnings regarding the use of these dictionaries are appropriate:-

  • The dictionaries were created by visiting the web-sites of various newspapers and magazines in India and Nepal, and extracting every contiguous set of Devanagari characters contained within the pages of the sites. As such, I can't guarantee the suitability of every word within them for use in crosswords. The Dictionary Maintenance function of Crossword Express has all of the facilities you will need to delete unwanted words or to edit words deemed to have been spelled incorrectly. These corrections could be completed as a major project, or more conveniently in a piecemeal fashion as inappropriate words are discovered while creating new puzzles.

  • Because of the way in which they were created, these dictionaries do not contain any clues. This can also be corrected when puzzles are being constructed. The build function allows you to scan a new puzzle after construction, and to insert a clue of your own choosing into any vacant slot. You can also use the Tasks/Transfer Puzzle Clues to Dictionary menu option of the Build Devanagari screen which will update the dictionary so that the next time any of the treated words are used in a puzzle, the new clues will be available for automatic inclusion.
Regarding other Abugidas
If the Devanagari function of Crossword Express proves to be popular, consideration will be given to the possibility of implementing other Abugidas also, with Tamil being my first choice unless I am overwhelmed by requests for an alternative.

 Let me know your preference. 

Finally, here is an example of a Nepali crossword made by Crossword Express.