Re: Tamil glyphs

From: Michael \(michka\) Kaplan (
Date: Thu Sep 07 2000 - 10:36:10 EDT

To answer a question someone else posed, a ZWNBSP or a ZWJ will not work
here since the vowel reordering must happen, as well. They are two entirely
different but entirely valid forms of the same groups of letters.

I guess one could claim that the problem is with the current block
description, which as far as I know in its description is intended to be
normative in regards to how Tamil is handled. It does not even suggest
another possiblity, and specifically says (replacing Tamil glyphs with
letter symbols since many do not have the fonts and many others may not like
the UTF-8):

The vowel sign AI changes to <> to the left of NNA, NNNA, LA, or LLA.


Remember that this change takes place after the vowel reordering; in the
first example, the vowel AI follows NNA in the memory representation. After
voewl reordering, it is on the left of NNA, and thus changes form. The
complete process is


Now, the argument that this is *just* a font issue is really not one that I
can accept very easily, especially since there is apparently even some
modern usage of the other form (I do not know whether this is simply someone
trying to use classical forms to emphasize a point or what, but it does
happen and at the time I had a localizer who pointed me to several such
examples on the web).

Now I am (slowly) learning the language but it will be some time before I
can fully grasp this issue, but I do not know of other examples where
something such as a ligature clearly described in a block description is
supposed to be selectively ignored.

Even if there were no modern usage, I would be resistant to suggest that it
is proper design to require two different fonts for a language that barely
has fonts out there at all, to support a usage that is not described in the

If this is a block description error, I would be happy to help with the
process to modify the block description, but I would regard the suggestion
that this is an issue where you would need two different fonts as an ugly
one. What does this due to plain text renderings? Obviously, it kills them
entirely for the purposes here. :-(


----- Original Message -----
From: "Antoine Leca" <>
To: "Unicode List" <>
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2000 2:22 AM
Subject: Re: Tamil glyphs

> Michael (michka) Kaplan wrote:
> >
> [About the representation vs. encoding of Tamil .naa]
> >
> > Actually, Apurva just did explain it.... and since she comes from a
> > typography background she did explain how the whole problem can be
> > via fonts. :-)
> >
> > However, it cannot currently be handled by Unicode. You must choose the
> > proper font to display NNA AI, NNNA AI, LA AI, or LLA AI.
> I do not see how it may be supposed to "be handled by Unicode" (I am
> sure Michael knows that, but that is intended as a clarification).
> The problem here is a difference in rendering, as two different renderings
> exist in the wild, similarly with the two forms for the Latin lowercase a.
> For all but exceptional cases, only one behaviour is expected (and it
> depends from the context, to the culture --I heard that Sri Lanka is more
> traditionalist-- and the desired effect). As such, one should elect the
> relevant font; then, this is the job of the rendering engine to get the
> job done... and to make the ligature appear.
> > The Monotype font and Latha in Windows 2000 are the way that my client
> > both display types.
> I believe this is a rather special need that your client have: as I
> he wants, at the same time, some rendering forms from MS Latha (usually,
> are the modern forms), and some others forms from Monotype Tamil. Usually,
> these needs are in books that explain the script...
> Or do I misunderstood?
> Antoine

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