Re: Unicode for Malayalam Language.

From: Glenn Adams (
Date: Tue Oct 21 1997 - 13:12:11 EDT

Mark Liberman wrote:

>As far as I know, no major-vendor unicode-aware software now includes
>a general "rendering engine" capable of handling the character
>composition needs of scripts with non-trivial composed characters
>(where "trivial" composed characters are the ones that work by just
>assigning font widths appropriately).

Sad, ain't it.

>If I am not wrong, then the speakers of the world's many languages
>like Malayam are in a sort of catch-22 situation. The Glenn Adams' of
>the world tell them not to ask for their own precomposed characters,
>since Unicode is designed with a generative capacity that should make
>such characters unnecessary.

We are not talking about precomposed letter plus diacritic combinations
here; further, pretty much all existing Indian Script systems found
in India (based on ISCII) already do employee the rendering engines
I refer to (granted, many are hardware based).

>The conclusion, which I believe is intended by no one but in fact
>accepted by all parties, is that Unicode will be of little or no value
>for the foreseeable future to speakers of languages like Malayalam,
>except perhaps as an interchange format.

Here, I'm afraid your lack of familiarity with Indian script
processing is showing. The current standard in India also does not
encode the 'glyphs' being requested here.

>A second conclusion is that anyone devising a new script should be
>sure that it does not involve any character composition, since the
>Unicode consortium is happy to accept characters from any script, no
>matter how obscure or irrelevant, as long as there is no way to
>generate them from other bits and pieces.

Fortunately, few people invent scripts these days. But they do
frequently create new writing systems and orthographies. In any
case, it is not at all correct to say the Unicode Consortium
accepts an new 'bit or peice' willy-nilly; nor is it correct to
say that Unicode does not accept precomposed characters.

Indeed, I presented the resolution of the consortium to WG2 at
its recent meeting to accept four precomposed latin characters used
with modern Romanian.

Please get your facts straight before imputing malanthropic intentions
to the consortium in the future.

Glenn Adams

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