Mongolian and Uighur (was Re: I have a drem one day...)

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Mon Dec 18 2000 - 14:20:39 EST

Peter Constable asked:

> On 12/18/2000 11:23:29 AM Kenneth Whistler wrote:
> >The WG2 proposals were for additional *presentation forms* for
> >Uighur characters. (initial, final, medial forms)...
> Daniels and Bright has a section on Uighur script - something from the same
> script history as Mongolian. I don't know how different it is from
> Mongolian. (The same family was also used for Oirat and Manchurian, and
> these are also discussed in D&B, though again I don't know much about how
> similar / different any of these are from one another). Has any proposal
> ever been made for this? Can it be considered simply a different writing
> system based on the same script as Mongolian (and therefore encoded using
> the existing Mongolian characters)?

From the Mongolian FAQ (

"In the history of the [Mongolian] written language, numerous scripts
were either accepted from other cultures or domestically designd. The
most important scripts are Uighur, Chinese, Phagsba, Soyombo and Cyrillic....

"The traditional Mongolian script is written in vertical lines from
left ot right, very much like an Arab page turned counter-clockwise
by 90 degrees. Though this script (called Uighur script because the
Uighurs had used it first) has been the main vehicle of written
Mongolian, ..."


Thus the Uighur script is the direct ancestor of the Mongolian
script, and is also a term used for the modern Mongolian script
itself, to distinguish it from Mongolian written in one of the other
scripts (including Latin and Tibetan). Chinese and Cyrillic are
obviously also encoded in Unicode already. Phagsba and Soyombo
are on the roadmap for consideration for encoding as historic
scripts at some future time.

The Uighur script was in turn derived from the Sogdian script
(used in what is now Uzbekistan from the 4th - 11th centuries).

The Sogdian and Uighur scripts are both in the Roadmap for
Plane 1 for 10646/Unicode:

The issue for encoding the Uighur script per se will likely be
whether its form for Uighur proper, prior to its adaptation for
Mongolian, was distinct enough to require separate encoding, or
whether the existing encoding of the Mongolian script will suffice
for representation of the Uighur script letters. That remains
to be determined when some experts on Sogdian, Uighur, and Mongolian
decide to focus on the issue.

Most of the time, however, when Uighurs from China talk about
support for Uighur, they are talking about use of the Arabic
script for representation of Uighur. That requires a number
of extended Arabic characters, which are already included in
Unicode. Search the NamesList.txt for "Uighur" to find examples.
Most Uighur materials printed in China are printed using the
Arabic script.

Also, the existing encoding for the Mongolian script in Unicode already
has all the letter extensions required for Todo, Sibe, and Manchu.
The Kalmyks and Oirats are Western Mongolians, and their use of
the Mongolian script should also be covered by the current


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