Re: Brahmic harmonization

From: unicode@Unicode.ORG
Date: Mon Jun 10 1996 - 05:30:12 EDT

At 06:58 AM 6/8/96 -0400, Michael Everson wrote:
>Brahmic harmonization means ensuring that the repertoire and code positions
>for scripts derived from the Brahmi script (practically all the scripts in
>Southeast Asia) are as close to one another as possible. This has the
>advantage (in India where the practice was established) of enabling people
>to read data in their preferred script. This is especially useful for
>languages which are closely related, such as the Indo-European or Dravidian
>languages. Imagine walking into a telephone booth in Trivandrum and
>dialling up an electronic telephone directory. It comes up in Tamil, which
>you don't read -- but you press a button and the display switches to
>Gurmukhi, or Devanagari -- or even Khmer or Burmese. So you find your
>friend's name easily. All based on the same data.

Eventhough each script was derived from Sanscrit, it has evolved and has its
own rule and style. Your example about the telephone can not be done without
translation. It just can not be done by switching the font alone.=20

>Why members of WG2 have believed that Brahmic harmonization was a good idea
>is that it means that basic software for all Brahmic scripts would be
>pretty much the same, only relatively small script-specific changes need be
>made to support other Brahmic scripts, whether they be major scripts like
>Khmer or Burmese or Sinhalese, or minor scripts like Manipuri or Lepcha or
>Tai Lu. Sorting and word-breaking algorithms would be written specifically
>for each script, whether or not harmonization is used, because of
>peculiarities in each of the scripts which make it necessary.
In khmer script, there are only a few exception that the ASCII sorting rule
can not be applied. The way we write is different than the way we spell.
So, if a display device driver is written for the script, we can completely
adopt the way we spell, including the data storage. The ones than cause
the writting different from spelling are the vowels that stand before the=20
consonant. I am not sure the burmese has the same problem or not.

>Another important reason for harmonization is the importance of Sanskrit
>and Pali, both as religious and scientific languages in their own right and
>as source languages for modern words used in Khmer, Burmese (etc.). The
>corpus of Sanskrit and Pali data is of such an enormous size -- and of such
>enormous cultural importance to Asia and to all the world -- that the
>notion of making data transfer for common texts more difficult should shock
>us. In this sense it is also a shame that Thai and Lao use a very different
>set of coding conventions -- but note that they are harmonized with one
>another for the same reasons discussed here. You have said: "In my opinion,
>the code assignment should be arranged as close as possible to the way each
>script are used and taught in school." This makes data transfer (for
>instance for _common_ texts like the Buddhist Canon) far more difficult
>than it need be, and requires new software to be written for each and every
>script, where harmonization allows a common source core to operate for each
>script. This is less expensive -- not a small concern for the users of
>these scripts. Not to do this -- to base each script's code table on "what
>is taught in school" -- can certainly be done, but what is the advantage?

The advantage of the natural arrangment of the khmer alphabet is that there
are no need for any modification to the most of the existing softaware such
as spreadsheet, database etc... Only the display device driver or font=
such as kerning are needed. It might be expensive, but it will pay off in=
long run.

>The ordinary user won't see the code table. In the Latin script, just
>transferring data from the PC to the Macintosh can be a problem or an
>irritation for people, who know nothing about _why_ their vowels come out
>wrong. We should not cripple the users of Asian scripts with the same
>thing. (It's true folks: much as I love the Macintosh (and gods know I do),
>I wish the code table were Latin 1. Hmm... No, I don't. I wish it were

 That is true that regular user won't see or care about the table, but it=
help the software developers. My idea was to use whatever applications=
in the market without having to modify for the khmer script.

>Brahmic harmonization is a term I use because the scripts are based on the
>Brahmi script of King Ashoka. Hugh Ross has used the term Indic
>harmonization, and others have referred to ISCII, the Indian national
>standard. I don't like to do this because 1) what is in 10646 is not
>identical with ISCII and 2) the harmonization is based on structural and
>historical similarities and not on anything particularly Indian.
>Best regards,
>Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
>15 Port Chaeimhghein =CDochtarach; Baile =C1tha Cliath 2; =C9ire (Ireland)
>Guth=E1in: +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
>27 P=E1irc an Fh=E9ithlinn; Baile an Bh=F3thair; Co. =C1tha Cliath; =C9ire

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