RE: Devanagari Consonant RA Rule R2

From: James E. Agenbroad (
Date: Thu Nov 09 2000 - 09:06:49 EST

On Wed, 8 Nov 2000, Apurva Joshi wrote:

> The RA[sup] is seen applied to the independent vowel Vocalic R (U+ 090B) in
> printed samples in Sanskrit.
> There are atleast the following words that contain the above:
> NaiRiTa (the name of a demon)
> => 0928 090B Ra[sup] 0924
> NaiRiTi (the goddess Durga, slayer of demons)
> => 0928 090B Ra[sup] 0924 0940
> NaiRiTYa (south-west)
> => 0928 090B Ra[sup] 0924 094D 092F
> The Devanagari shaping engine in Uniscribe currently recognises a 0930 094D
> preceding only consonants, to be duely reordered to the end of the syllable
> and replaced with Ra[sup]. Whether this be extended to independent vowels
> had figured in internal discussions when the shaping engine was being
> planned. To the best of my knowledge, extending this to be applicable to
> Vocalic R would be a special case, because Ra[sup] is not seen to be applied
> to any other Indic vowel in words that are native to Indic languages.
> Would be glad to hear from any expert on this list, if there are
> phonemes/sounds in any language, which when transliterated into Devanagari,
> would require the Ra[sup] to be applied to an independent vowel.
> eg. vowel E Ra[sup] etc.
> Thanks,
> -apurva
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Eric Mader/Cupertino/IBM []
> Sent: Wednesday, November 08, 2000 10:24 AM
> To: Unicode List
> Subject: Devanagari Consonant RA Rule R2
> Hello,
> In the Devanagari section of the standard, rule R2, on page 217 of the
> version 3.0 standard, states, "If the dead consoant RA[d] preecesd either a
> consonant *or an independent vowel,* then it is replaced by the superscript
> nonspacing mark RA[sup]..."
> I've never seen a RA[sup] applied to an indpenedent vowel, and non of the
> software I can find that renders Devanagari does this; they all render a
> dead RA followed by the vowel. Is the rule in error, or is it written to
> cover some obscure case that most software doesn't bother with?
> Eric Mader
                                            Wednesday, November 8, 2000
First, I'm not an expert in Sanskrit but have done some work with
Devanagari. I think at figure 9-3 (4) on page 214 and at R2 on page 217
Unicode 3.0 overstates and mistates the situation a bit. What is being
described is, I believe, a rendering issue, not an encoding issue.
Instead of involving an independent vowel, it involves the r consonant,
U+0930, immediately followed by the R vowel sign (matra), U+0943, which
happens to get rendered as the independent vowel, U+090B with the
superscript R, reph, above it--with no halant between the consonant
and the vowel sign. On page 24 of Hester Lambert's Introduction to
Devanagari, "The vowel sign of [U+090B] is not written with [U+0930,
094D] The character representing {0930, 094D] with [U+090B] is written
with the superscribed stroke used to represent [0930, 094D] when it is to
be realized before another consonant with character without an intervening
vowel {i.e. reph]. This stroke is placed over the vowel character
[U+090B], as in [U+0928, 093F, 090B, reph, 0924, 093F] nirrti." The order
of filing 'nirri' (dot under second r) in Monier Williams Sanskrit-English
dictionary (page 554, column 2) tends to confirm this interpretation: It
has after nirUha, nirri, nirrich and nirrij (with a dot below the second
r) followed by nire. It is possible that this peculiar rendering practice
would extend to the RA followed by U+0944, 0962 or 0963 but they seem to
me too unlikely to dwell on. I suppose (by analogy to having two ways to
encode many letters with diacritics) Unicode could allow two ways to
encode what looks like "R vowel with reph"; at present it describes the
one with a halant but is silent about the display when the r consonant is
immediately followed by the r matra, U+0930, 0943.
          Jim Agenbroad ( )
     The above are purely personal opinions, not necessarily the official
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