Re: Devanagari

From: Sandeep Sibal (
Date: Fri Jan 10 1997 - 09:05:00 EST

Glenn Adams wrote:
> I admit I've been a bit on the impatient side in my responses; however, I'm
> basically responding in kind. You are essentially demanding that Unicode add
> certain presentation forms that you consider to be essential. But you have
> not offered anything more than your opinion to justify your demand. I'm putting
> the onus on you to justify the need for these additions.

To get an idea of what it is like to use a character-set without access
ligatures or even half-consonants, I've created a mock ISO-8859-* like
called Devicode. The code takes positions 161-255. On my box I access
codepoints using a modified xmodmap, that uses the upper-half of the
when CapsLock is turned on.

To prevent having to distribute software that does keyboard mapping,
I've done two things. First I've moved the 161-255 set down by 128 to
the lower half of the ASCII table, to points 32-126. Since 127 is
I've left codepoint 255 where it was. Codepoint 255 represents the
"double danda" ["danda" is a vertical stroke] that is used rarely
in modern Hindi. Often it is represented a a sequence of two single

Additionally, the codepoints are so chosen that on a normal QWERTY
the maps are a pretty good phonetic match to the english keys that they
mapped on to. The general logic is to use upper-case to indicate
consonants as well as hard/pharyngal consonants. When both an aspirated
a hard/pharyngal consonant exists, the aspirated wins, and the
consonant gets moved someplace close by.

The shifted-numeral keys on the top of the keyboard are reserved for
letters. Vowel signs (which are much more frequent) use the aeiou keys
a few more. Upper case indiactes a "long/stressed" version of the sign.
The rest I'll leave for you to discover.

The font is a BDF font in 14, 18 and 24 point, @100dpi. The typeface is
a modified version of Velthuis' dvng typeface, with shifted zero-width
vowel signs so they land in the right places, and some other metrical
changes. Since his typeface doesnt have Vedic accents, these slots are
left empty for now.

For all those who know Devanagari I'd encourage you to try it out. I
used Netscape navigator gold to edit Devanagari. It is my very first
attempt at WYSIWIG editing of Devanagri without using sophisticated
wordprocessing tools.

The Devicode font is specified as ISO-8859-1 to make it easy for
everyone to try it out. For those who arent familiar with installing
a BDf font on a Unix box - do the following. Run "mkfontdit $PWD"
in the directory that has the BDf files. Then run "xset fp+ $PWD",
and to be safe "xset fp rehash". If you reopen Netscape you should
see under Options -> General Preferences -> Fonts, a field that
says "For the encoding:". Move the button to "Devi7 (Sibal)", for
the ISO-8859-1 encoding. Then try editing a document if you have
Navigator Gold.

A sample page I wrote up in less than a minute is at:

A page that catalogues the mapping in parallel with Unicode's
encoding of Devanagari is at:

The BDf fonts are in the directory:

Do try it out. I'm curious to see how easy is it for people to
read/write Devanagari in this ligatureless half-consonantless script.

I'll leave my own experiences for later. Let me hear from
you first.

Warm wishes,

Sandeep Sibal
Phone: (908) 949-6277

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