Indic script (dis)unification (Was: Re: f + halant + i = ?)

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Tue Dec 21 1999 - 21:03:23 EST

Chris Finn wrote:
> wrote:
> > This begs a question I once wondered about: why weren't the
> > various viramas unified? No matter now, though, whatever the
> > answer is: it's too late to go back and change things.
> For that matter all the Indic character sets *could* have been unified
> certainly those used for the main North Indian languages. Since a
> decision was taken not to unify these scripts it may be a little hard
> to argue that lesser used Indic scripts, which have not yet been
> encoded, should not have their own blocks.

Any such decision will be made by WG2, in consultation with UTC, based
on the same kinds of principles that have to be considered for all other
instances of historically related scripts. In some instances, as for the
use of the Bengali script to write Assamese, the adaptation of the script
is recent and small -- in which case unification and addition of a few
more "extended" characters makes the most sense. (Another such instance
coming up soon are extensions of the Myanmar/Burmese script to cover
Shan, Mon, etc.) In other instances, the adaptation of the script has
a longer history, with independent typographical and/or manuscript developments,
along with a social context that leads to identification of the script
as distinct. Distinct scripts usually end up having unique rendering issues --
and cannot simply be handled as font replacements for each other.

But the boundary decisions are usually complex. And it will get worse as
we delve further into historic scripts, where we lack living context
(other than scholastic practice) to help make the decisions where the
boundaries go.


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