INFITT – (Information Forum for Information Technology in Tamil)
WG02 (Working Group 02 – Unicode in Tamil)

Liaison Report


Several people (including myself and Muthu Nedumaran, the WG02 chairman) had expressed concern to Prof. M. Ponnavaiko (the Tamil Nadu representative to INFITT and to India’s MIT) about the oddness of the relationship between their state and Unicode (their associate membership, their work with M.I.T., their status as a founding member of INFITT). After a lot of vigorous discussion, they decided that INFITT was their best approach. Most of the work that had been planned has been redirected toward more constructive endeavors. The contractors hired to test the syllable block per M.I.T.’s directives is still to happen, but reports will go to INFITT prior to going to M.I.T.


The UTC decision to change the character properties came at the best possible time.   Being able to prove that the UTC is responsive to feedback and willing to listen to experts was one of the biggest factors that helped attendees (and later representatives) see Unicode as a good thing for Tamil.


Vigorous discussion about the desire to encode the 247 syllable version of Tamil took place. The final decision of INFITT’s WG02 (later approved by INFITT’s general committee) was to unequivocally state that the Unicode encoding of Tamil is suitable and no separate syllable-based encoding is needed. There was some dissent from the Tamil Nadu representatives but they agreed in the end with the recommendation.


This conference (which took place Aug 26-28, 2001 in Kuala Lumpur) gave a lot of attention to Unicode. I gave a single talk on Unicode and Tamil which stretched into an additional full length Q&A session about Unicode, a lot of people were amazed at what they saw (mainly Windows 2000 support, though some VS.Net features as well).


A LOT of interest exists in the revised block description (underway) and the proposed characters (the ones being proposed at this UTC meeting and possibly some others). The current proposal caught folks a bit off guard (a proposal that was in progress had to be gutted for samples) but they understood the benefits of sending the proposal to Singapore right away, rather than waiting for the next meeting).




Michael Kaplan

Trigeminal Software, Inc.

November 6, 2001