Re: Precomposed Tibetan

From: Andrew C. West (
Date: Tue Dec 17 2002 - 12:30:06 EST

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    On Tue, 17 Dec 2002 08:45:05 -0800 (PST), Jungshik Shin wrote:

    > Is there any opentype/AAT font for Tibetan? Do Uniscribe, Pango,
    > ATSUI, and Graphite support them if there are opentype Tibetan fonts?
    > In addition to the principle of character encoding, the best practical
    > counterargument would come from a demonstration that Unicode encoding
    > model for Tibetan script does work in practice.

    I have a Tibetan test page
    ( that encodes a number
    of Tibetan texts in a variety of different styles using Unicode. At present the
    only freely available OpenType Tibetan font is the "Tibetan Uchen" font being
    developed by Tashi Tsering - a working version is available for download from This displays "native"
    Tibetan (i.e. no unusual or complex Sankrit stacks) passably well, but is still
    quite primitive. However, expect some professional quality Tibetan OpenType
    fonts that cover all naturally occuring Tibetan stack combinations to be
    released soon.

    The Unicode model for encoding Tibetan does work in practice, and providing
    pre-composed forms adds no value to Tibetan users whatsoever - it takes the same
    effort to type in or otherwise select the syllable "skyi", for example, whether
    its encoded as a single character (Chinese proposal U+A54C) or four characters
    (U+0F66, U+0F90, U+0FB1, U+0F72). The Chinese proposal seems to suggest that the
    main reason for encoding the precomposed forms is that existing Tibetan fonts
    already cover this set of glyphs, and it would be easier for font designers to
    have a one-to-one mapping between glyph and character than to have to map these
    presentation forms to sequences of Unicode characters. Well, compared with
    Mongolian, Tibetan's a doddle ! And if Tibetan gets precomposed forms, then
    Mongolian can't be far behind. To accept the Chinese proposal would be more than
    the thin edge of the wedge, it would tear Unicode apart. But I'm sure there's no
    realistic chance of this happening.


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