UK (Church Slavonic); and Glagolitic

From: John Clews (
Date: Fri Nov 28 1997 - 10:25:10 EST

UK (Church Slavonic); and Glagolitic

On 1997-11-26, Emil Hersak<> wrote via

> >1) The attached gif shows the two forms of UK used in Old Slavonic
> >Cyrillic. The first form has received encoding, but the second has
> >not. Naturally, I understand that differencing in letter form can be
> >resolved by fancy fonts etc.

Michael Everson replies:

> The form is the glyph. If you would recognize both forms as a
> representation of the same thing (i.e. it means no difference which is used
> in a given word) then in principle they are supposed to be unified as
> characters and some process is to tell the computer whether it is to be
> rendered as "oy" or as "8".

John Clews notes:

British Standard BS 2729, Table D: Transliteration of Church Slavonic
Cyrillic, character 21, lists the following, using shapes similar to
Michael Everson's glyph analogues as above:

No. Cyrillic Transliteration
               v v _
21 OY oy (o, O y) u (u, u)

Thus all are suggested in BS 2729 as alternative glyphs

Michael Everson continued:

> No one really provides a mechanism for this. For Arabic, it is built into
> the rendering engine at a high level. For simple alphabetic scripts like
> Cyrillic, I don't know how it would be done. There are claims about "smart
> fonts", but I never saw one. In some Tibetan software I have used you can
> type a "variant" key to change its preceding character's shape (which is
> not much different from having two characters in some instances since it's
> not contextual.

John Clews notes:

Michael Everson's point above is of course very germane to
discussions on unification/disunification, and to the ability to
represent characters in UCS plain text.

Parallel text in plain text is difficult to do in both the following
scenarios: and it seems to me that whatever situation is chosen as a
solution for parallel Greek and Coptic text probably also should apply
to parallel Russian and Old Church Slavonic script, whether the
relevant repertoires are unified or disunified:

e.g. provide UCS plain text and/or font switching solutions for these:

English text Greek language text Coptic language text

English text Russian language text Church Slavonic language text

Michael Everson continues:

> I have a lovely OCS book from 1861 here in front of me. I
> seem to find "oy" used in word-initial position and "8" in other positions.
> If that were a rule, then a smart font would be able to render correctly.
> But experts like yourself must tell us...

Emil Hersak also said:

> >Since or at least many of the other letters remain more or less
> >standarised, it would make little sense to produce two separate
> >type-faces with differing "uk" characters. It would seem to me best
> >to provide one more slot in Old Cyrillic to cover this alternative
> >form.

John Clews notes:

According to Milena Dobreva, this provision of separate codings for
alternative forms of a letter has already been done in UCS (ISO/IEC
10646 and Unicode) for the various variant characters which follow
Cyrillic Omega.

In my own view there is a good case for separate encodings for each.

Michael Everson also replied to =3D?ISO-8859-2?Q?Emil_HER=3DA9AK?=3D:

> I would not fight strongly for a unification (which should come as no
> surprise to readers of Unicode list). What do existing typefaces provide?
> Are there any coded character sets with both?

John Clews notes:

That sounds like you are saying that we _should_ also consider
dis-unification of Cyrillic and Church Slavonic. Is that what you

Emil Hersak also said:

> >2) Glagolitic. I would like to know if any work has been done so
> >far on this historical script.

Michael Everson replied:

> I am working on it with Hinko Muren in Ljubljana. Apparently John Clews is
> working on it also.

John Clews notes:

I am indeed, with Milena Dobrevic in Bulgaria: Glagolitic in
computers was the subject of her PhD thesis.

Obviously we should compare notes, and hopefullly prepare action
jointly on this, ideally comprising a submission from appropriate
bodies in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Slovenia. I think
that a proposal for Glagolitic should be fairly straightforward.

Those with an interest in these issues might also like to look at the
single-byte international standard character sets prepared by
ISO/TC46/SC4/WG1 in this area, some years ago, which include codings
for Cyrillic/Church Slavonic and Glagolitic.

Best wishes

John Clews

John Clews (Chair of ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of Written Languages)

SESAME Computer Projects, 8 Avenue Road, Harrogate, HG2 7PG, England Email:; tel: +44 (0) 1423 888 432

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