RE: Clews' comments on Devanagari

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Thu Mar 28 1996 - 04:27:54 EST


Thanks for your summary of the ISCII situation.

> 1. JTC1/SC2/WG2, the Unicode Consortium, and outdated Indian "standards"

Well it's an imperfect universe.

> 2. Possible implementation problems with the current Tables 16-24

Do not a simple set of mapping tables suffice?

> 3. What are India's requirements?
>Readers of this list should be clear that Devanagari maps to all other script
>used in India in the same way that Latin script maps to Gaelic script and to
>Gothic script. From a coding implementors point of view, you can treat each
>of these scripts (deriving from Latin, and deriving from Brahmi) as fonts of
>the base script. Obviously the users will regard these as scripts rather than
>fonts, and require appropriate locales to be considered in applications.

(Michael, unable to resist being a bit pedantic:)
Well strictly speaking Wulfilas' Gothic maps better to Greek than to
Latin... I prefer to say that Gaelic, Roman, and Fraktur/Black Letter are
variants of the Latin script. This is not quite the same thing as you have
in Brahmic. But the mapping should be consistent among Brahmic scripts, and
is in the current standard.

I am curious about one thing. My understanding from reading the ISCII
standard is that a potential application might be: Two friends, a Tamil and
a Punjabi, walk into a telephone booth, access the on-line telephone
directory to look for their Hindi friend in Varanasi. When the catalogue
listing appears, the two can toggle between their preferred scripts to read
the names list easily. What happens to DA when it gets switched to Tamil?
Does TA display, or Grantha DA?

> 4. Participation by India and other developing countries in JTC1/SC2/WG2
>India took no action, but this might be because they compared the rapid way
>that ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N 1030 was dealt with, with the lengthy atention
>given to the delegates from China, dealing with various scripts, at Antalya,
>coding for which scripts has still not reached a great deal of
>standardisation since then.

The action required was following up on N1030 by filing a defect report.
There is an A4 form for that. Nothing can be done about processing anything
in WG2 without filling in the forms..... :-)

> 5. Could there be a Korean pDAM situation for Indian scripts?

Well if India could show, as Korea did, that there are serious problems
that can only be solved, or can best be solved, by such a solution, then
WG2 and Unicode might have to do something about it. We know how many
hundreds of millions of users are potentially affected. But it has _not_
been demonstrated that the 8-bit standard and the 16-bit standard are
_incompatible_ and that such problems are really insurmountable -- it's
only been demonstrated that they aren't the same. That's academic. As I
have said, I have an open mind, and an interest in making sure that
Sanskrit and Pali and the modern Indic languages are supported adequately.
Nothing will happen, however, without the defect report being filed and
people committed to working on the problem. If you want to pursue this,
John, you've got to get the UK or India to _DO_ something about it. The
answer to the defect report might very well be NO CHANGE, which at least
would put the nail in the coffin of this question. For my own part, I'd say
that if you can't get UK or India, officially, to submit a defect report to
WG2 by the next meeting (considering as they've had since Antalya to do
it), then it really mustn't be a problem worth troubling with.

Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire (Ireland)
Gutháin: +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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