Re: Dzongkha gets Windowsized

Date: Wed Aug 07 2002 - 04:50:34 EDT wrote:

> will be using Unicode for the "around 4,500 Dzongkha letters, characters
> and religious symbols" which "are based on characters drawn by Bhutanese
> calligraphy artists and monks.

I assume that the figure of 4,500 "letters, characters and religious symbols", frightening as it may
first appear, in fact refers to the number of glyphs in the Dzongkha font.
4,500 is a figure that could plausibly be arrived at by adding together all the possible
consonant/vowel combinations that can be stacked vertically to make up an individual glyph.

> The final collection includes the drilbu,
> dorji and norbu characters which are widely used and important religious
> symbols.

The Unicode Tibetan block already encodes all the characters needed to form the many thousands of
possible glyphs for consonant/vowel stacks, as well as a large number of symbols and marks,
including the "drilbu" [U+0FC4], "dorji" [U+0FC5] and "norbu" [U+0FC9] characters.

There are also a number of Bhutanese (Dzongkha) specific characters in the Tibetan block (e.g.
U+0F09 and U+0F0A).

>Before now, the Bhutanese people could not perform basic computer
>tasks such as sending e-mails, saving files, using spreadsheets or
>writing documents because no native operating system supported them.

Patently untrue.

Given the Unicode support for Tibetan, there is no reason why anyone in Bhutan could not already
perform basic computer tasks such as sending e-mails, saving files, using spreadsheets and writing
documents using Windows 2000 or XP ... except that there is no freely available Unicode Tibetan font
other than Arial Unicode MS (no longer freely available), and although Arial Unicode MS has glyphs
corresponding to the individual Tibetan codepoints (for Unicode 2.1 only), it does not provide the
"4,500" (?) glyphs that are actually needed to display Tibetan text correctly.

What we don't really need is another language-specific version of Windows, but a proper Unicode font
for Tibetan and a Tibetan IME.

On the question of a Tibetan IME, my forthcoming BabelPad Unicode text editor
( includes an input method for Tibetan
using the Extended Wylie method.

Andrew C. West

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