Re: Major Defect in Combining Classes of Tibetan Vowels

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 17:36:20 EDT

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    At 14:20 -0700 2003-06-25, John Hudson wrote:


    Write it up with glyphs and minimal pairs and people will see the
    problem, if any. Or propose some solution. (That isn't "add duplicate

    >In Biblical Hebrew, it is possible for more than one vowel to be
    >attached to a single consonant. This means that is it very important
    >to maintain the ordering of vowels applied to a single consonant.
    >The Unicode Standard assigns an individual combining class to every
    >vowel, meaning that NFC normalisation may re-order vowels on a
    >consonant. This is not simply 'non-traditional' but results in
    >incorrect rendering and a different vocalisation of the text. The
    >point is that hiriq before patah is *not* canonically equivalent to
    >patah before hiriq, except in the erroneous assumption of the
    >Unicode Standard: the order of vowels makes words sound different
    >and mean different things.
    >In order to correctly encode and render the Biblical Hebrew text, it
    >is necessary to either a) never use normalisation routines that
    >re-order marks (which is beyond the control of document authors), or
    >b) re-classify the existing Hebrew marks so that all vowels are in a
    >single class and will not be re-ordered during normalisation, or c)
    >encode new marks for Biblical Hebrew with all vowels in a single
    >There are a few other desirable changes to the combining class
    >assignments for some Hebrew accents, which make rendering easier and
    >are more linguistically logical, but the vowels are the most
    >John Hudson
    >Tiro Typeworks
    >Vancouver, BC
    >If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores,
    >are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine,
    >who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint
    >Augustine and Stonehenge -- that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.
    > - Umberto Eco

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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