RE: Never say never

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Wed Feb 12 2003 - 15:45:10 EST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "RE: Indic Vowel/Consonant combinations"

    At 02:27 +0000 2003-02-12, Andy White wrote:
    >I said:
    >? (I am talking about the letters mentioned in the Unicode Indic FAQ,
    > >
    >Just to be clear, I mean the letters called 'Vowel_A_zophola_AA' &
    >'Vowel_E_zophola_AA' as mentioned in the above mentioned FAQ.

    These are A-VIRAMA-YA-AA and E-VIRAMA-Y-AA, which are sequences of an
    independent vowel plus a subjoined consonant plus a dependent vowel.
    Those sequences are used to represent foreign sounds in Bengali.
    Since the ya-phalaa is a common glyph that can also follow consonants
    it makes sense not to treat the use of it with independent vowels

    Yes, Oriya O-VIRAMA-BA could be considered structurally similar, and
    it could even be said that Devanagari K-VIRAMA-SSA which is thought
    of as a letter in Marathi could considered similar. In the case of
    Oriya, however, there were two issues. (Did you read my paper, N2525?)

    The original consonant [va] was lost in Oriya, merging with [ba].
    Later, a need to represent the foreign sound [va] and the foreign
    sound [wa] was perceived. Taylor 1883 showed a shape for this [va]
    which is rather unusual, but in any case what came to be used was a
    BA with a dot in or above its head. To represent [wa] the consonant
    BA was, unusually subscripted to the initial vowel O.

    Two new, rare, foreign consonants were born. We chose to encode them.

    Why are the YA-PHALAA characters different? The use of VIRAMA + YA +
    VOWEL SIGN is productive in Bengali. Initial consonant plus -ya is
    pronounced as the consonant which when followed by -aa is pronounced
    []. This -yaa can be added to consonants and to initial vowels. It
    is also a spacing stand-alone glyph which doesn't interact with the
    letters it follows. Its application to initial vowels is reported to
    be common.

    In Oriya, however, [ba] is a stop, and when subscripted interacts
    with its consonant glyphically. Application of subscript consonants
    to initial vowels is not otherwise practiced in Oriya. OBA = WA is
    not really a normal conjunct and there is a pretty wide range of
    glyph variations. Plus because the use of the letter WA is rare, it
    seemed best to treat it as a single letter representing a single

    >I must add here that Bengali also has a combination used to transcribe
    >Wa. It is LETTER O + YYA_PHALAA.

    Prove it, please. Bagchi suggests as much in Daniels & Bright but the
    description is ambiguous.

    >An example is the Devanagri Letter Vocalic R with Superscript Letter
    >Ra (aka Vowel Ru with Reph). Despite many discussions, no one has
    >been able to come to any agreement as to how to encode it. Is this a
    >candidate? If not; how to encode it?


    >Another is 'Bengali Letter Central A' used to transcribe English 'a'
    >as in ball. (Comparable to Devanagri Chandra A). It is visibly a
    >Bengali letter A with posfixed letter Ya (Bengali Letter A with
    >Ya-phalaa). I think that this letter, among with a few others not
    >mentioned, should be included for compatibility with the Devanagri
    >code block. But what do you think?

    I don't see how Bengali is incompatible with Devanagari.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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