RE: f + halant + i = ?

From: James E. Agenbroad (
Date: Thu Dec 30 1999 - 09:25:51 EST

On Mon, 20 Dec 1999 wrote:

> Halant (or viram) doesn't sound a reasonable candidate to me, although
> creative.
> In the default case it is a visible character, not a control. This case is
> quite rare in Hindi or Marathi, if a decent font is used. But in Sanskrit
> (for final consonants) or in a minimal font for modern languages, halant may
> show its presence.
> Moreover, it is not only in Devanagari: there is a different viram for each
> different Indic scripts and, when visible, they have different shapes. Which
> one should be exported to Europe?
> And, finally, the real meaning of it is that the inherent vowel should not
> be pronounced. The fact that it also determines ligatures is just accidental
> (and does not happen in Tamil, for instance).
> Ciao.
> M.C.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: James E. Agenbroad
> > Could the Devanagari halant be used with Latin script, runes, etc.? This
> > is just a quick idea. Feel free to shoot it down. Halant then meaning
> > something along the lines of: combine (ligate) the preceding and following
> > characters if rendering resources permit and no ZWJ or ZWNJ is
> > present.
                                            Thursday, December 30, 1999

A few reflections on what Devanagari virama/halant means IMHO.

1. When it's between two Devanagari consonants it means
    a. Phonetically it means to omit pronounciation of the implicit 'a'
       vowel, but pronounciation is not a plain text issue or English
       would have real problems.
    b. Graphically it means consult the available fonts and if available,
       use (or construct from parts) the appropriate ligature; if none are
       available output the halant visibly.
2. When it's not between two Devanagari consonants is has no meaning and
   could be assigned one.

     The viramas of other Indian scripts (Bengali, Oriya, etc.) could also
be defined to invoke alternative forms of ligatures: Bengali virama means
use the first alternative form of ligature of the surrounding letters;
Oriya virama means second alternative from of the ligature, etc.
Devanagari virama would mean use the first from. I have seen five
diferent glyphs for Devanagari LA, halant, LA. I will not try to guess
what, if anything, a Bengali virama would mean between two Devanagari
consonants, etc.

     I would be the first to admit that this is inelegant solution.

     Except perhaps when dealing with very rare books and manuscripts
accurate transcription of Latin script ligatures is not a major issue in
my areas of interest so I will defer to those for whom it is one.

     Do we want to delve into how best to record Magrib forms of
certain Arabic script letters? (I have not checked to see if Unicode
mentions this.) Or Bombay vs. Delhi glyph variants of some Devanagari
letters and digits? These are regional glyph variants, not ligatures so
far as I know, so they may be outside the scope of the current discussion.
     Regards and Happy Y2K!
          Jim Agenbroad ( )
     The above are purely personal opinions, not necessarily the official
views of any government or any agency of any.
Phone: 202 707-9612; Fax: 202 707-0955; US mail: I.T.S. Dev.Gp.4, Library
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