RE: Precomposed Tibetan

From: Andrew C. West (
Date: Wed Dec 18 2002 - 05:09:57 EST

  • Next message: Andrew C. West: "RE: Precomposed Tibetan"

    On Wed, 18 Dec 2002 01:20:00 -0800 (PST), Michael Everson wrote:

    > These 950 syllables are insufficient to express anything but
    > newspaper and bureaucratic Tibetan.

    To be fair to the Chinese, this is simply not true. Not only is this set
    (together with the basic letters already encoded at U+0F40 through U+0F69)
    sufficient for normal written Tibetan (and not all Tibetans are Buddhists monks
    - there are actually Tibetans who use the language for modern purposes such as
    journalism, science, literature, poetry, and even bureaucracy) as well as
    "literary" Tibetan (which orthographically is little different from modern
    written Tibetan), but it seems from a brief perusal to cover the vast majority
    of complex stacks and Sanskrit forms that are used for writing religious texts.
    The reason why this set of precomposed Tibetan stacks is so comprehensive is
    presumably due to the great number of Tibetan books, secular and religious, that
    have been published in China during recent years, and this set reflects the
    needs of these published books. Sure the works encoded using these precomposed
    forms is only a subset of the entire corpus of Tibetan literature, but it's
    probably a pretty representative subset. Nevertheless, the set does not cover
    everything, and if the proposal were to be accepted, the existing Tibetan
    character encoding model would still have to be used on occasion to encode
    rarely seen forms.

    This set is NOT an attempt by the Chinese government to restrict the Tibetan
    language or somehow stop the Tibetans from writing Buddhist texts. I believe it
    is a genuine but misguided attempt to simplify the encoding of Tibetan, and thus
    make Tibetan more accessible. The Chinese (and Tibetans) probably see the
    Unicode model as being more restrictive - certainly its top-down stack encoding
    goes contrary to Tibetan stack analysis for stacks with head letters, and is
    counter-intuitive to native speakers. Nevertheless the Unicode model does work,
    and we should be trying to convince the Chinese that this is so.


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