Re: Eyelash Ra/Variant Mark (Last from me too)

From: Jeroen Hellingman (
Date: Thu May 28 1998 - 09:37:17 EDT

Summarising on various issues,

Marathi eye-lash ra:

1. keep it as defined in Unicode right now (ra + zwj)

        + no change in standard
        - complicates spell checking because zwj is relevant, which
        is contradicting the intention of zwj in the Unicode standard.

2. use RRA for marathi ra

        + follows current ISCII practice
        - double semantic for RRA, which also serves as a
        character for dravidian RA. This issue not
        very important, as transliteration will aready introduce
        a lot of ambiguities, especially with regard to Tamil.
        - might be decomposed into RA + nukta.
        - change in standard required.

3. use new character for eyelash ra.

        + no ambiguity
        - unclear what eyelash ra in non-secondary position should
        look like
        - change in standard required.

My preference is 1. as no change in the standard will be required, but I
can understand the other preferences.

> ra + zwj or a seperate character will only complicate the usage of Marathi.
> Just let me know, how would one represent or show an isolated reph (e.g.
> in a text book) if you have used up ra-halant-zwj for eyelash-ra, as given
> in R5 on page 6-39?

Currently, Unicode does not specify any way to show a number of matras
independently. If I would like to demonstrate rakar, as it appears under
retroflex ta (i.e. an little hook) or ka (i.e. a small stroke), or, in
Tamil, the various shapes of the u matra, there is no standard way to
do this. Propably that should be included, as well as standard
techniques to select variant matras and conjuncts. (stacked or
juctaposed double RRA in malayalam for example, as is possible in
with ISCII.

> Our opinion is that people not knowing these languages are likely to
> mis-interpret the rendition issues and cause some inconsistencies to
> the ultimate users of these languages. I agree that Unicode was not meant
> to address the glyph composition. But since it is happening now, it is
> important to exercise care in this area. Fortunately, since it is
> possible to correct these anamolies in independent versions of
> implementation of the code-to-glyph mapping, we are sure that we will be
> able to correct any such problems.
> I would like to add that we have experienced and addressed these issues
> over a period of 10 years on GIST Technology and we know many of
> these things raise doubts in case of any new implementations. I can
> only advise them to download LEAP-Lite and understand the implementations

I've worked on Indian script automation with TeX for Malayalam, Oriya
and in a lesser extend various other scripts for about five years,
mostly as a hobby. I admit my implementations
are far from perfect, especially as they were made too early and without
knowing the languages in question. Since then, I've done quite a lot
of research, only to find that most authorities don't have
answers to the more obscure issues as well, and printer's practices
differ considerably. There is no such thing as one correct way, although
some ways of displaying Indian languages are more common, and becoming
more standard because of computer implementations. There are some
Indian Standards for various Indian scripts, but these also don't
provide the level of detail desired by implementors. I have discussed
these issues with Mr. Patel, a typographer at NID Ahmedabad and
Mr. Joshi, a well known calligrapher of IIT Bombay,
who have quite different and conflicting opinions about computer
implementations of Indian scripts. Mr. Patel seeks to rationalise
and standarise the number of glyphs required for Indian script
processing -- a line that is also followed in the C-DAC implementations,
which omit many of the traditional conjuncts and consonant-matra
combinations in various scripts. I agree there is a need for script
and reduction of the number of glyphs from a technological and educational
point of view (as has been done in the cases of Malayalam and Tamil).
However, I can also understand Mr. Joshi's opinion that computers
can be used to render the script in all their complexity and beauty, that
is with variant matras, complicated conjuncts and so on. I've seen
a monotype font for traditional Malayalam that covers four physical fonts and
several hunderds of glyphs.... concluding, however, I don't
believe there is one way of doing things correct. Even then there
are too many ways to do things wrong, and these should be avoided.

Best regards,

Jeroen Hellingman


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