Re: Malayalam Zero - an error

From: N. Ganesan (
Date: Mon Apr 11 2005 - 15:34:12 CST

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    P. Verdy wrote:
    >So there may already exist LOTS of Malaylam
    >documents created under Windows

    Malayalam speakers use different encodings predominantly,
    not much of Unicode yet. Many South indians
    still use Windows 98 etc., I doubt many Malayalam
    documents exist with Malayalam numerals from Unicode
    fonts. But in the future Malayalam in Unicode will grow.
    My feeling is it's not yet widely used in Malayalam.
    >This makes a huge precedent, and probably there are
    >now tons of publications using this glyph,

    Not really.

    >even if Malayalam mathematic historians would have
    >objected about it.
    >So there's now:
    >- a incorrect but widely used "modern" Malayalam positional decimal system
    >using the one-half glyph for zero, and no tens digits.

    Malayalam writers do not use one-half glyph for zero.
    Not widely at all.

    >- the historic numbering system without a zero, but with
    >additional digits for powers of ten multipliers 10, 100, 1000
    >(possibly also conjuncts of
    >these multipliers for higher numbers).

    No conjuncts exist in Malayalam or Tamil 10,100,1000 numerics.

    >Suppose that Malayalam glyph is changed now, will Microsoft update its core
    >fonts for Malayalam in Windows XP or Office ("Kartika" and "Arial Unicode

    Once the Unicode glyph for Malayalam digit zero (U+0D66) is
    changed to circular form (0), corporations like Microsoft
    will do the update for Indic fonts. This happens in Tamil
    also: 1) Tamil visarga sign (aytham in Tamil) changed from
    a combining character to free standing one. So the Latha (Tamil)
    font will change 2) Microsoft Tamil collation order right now
    follows Indo-Aryan languages' sort order. INFITT is trying
    to change the sort order to natural Dravidian sort order
    (given in major dictionaries like Madras Tamil lexicon, etc.,)
    Sort order for Tamil, wrong now, will eventually be corrected.
    As Josef W. Segur said earlier:
    All of the code charts say in the Fonts section: "The shapes of the
    reference glyphs used in these code charts are not prescriptive."

    >So may be the solution for Microsoft in Windows will be to not change the
    >glyph at all in its fonts, and instead display the glyph of LETTER TTHA when
    >in "national" digits substitution mode.

    I do not see much relation between TTHA and zero.
    In English also, the alphabet o, and zero (0) exist.

    The letter TTHA (rarely used in Malayalam, btw.
    only in loan words from Indo-Aryan languages) and Zero (0)
    can be independent, just like in English letter o,
    and digit zero (0) can be distinguished.

    The proposal to add 10,100,1000 and correct zero glyph graphically
    does not link it to LETTER TTHA. Malayalam and Tamil
    do not mix letters and digits.

    N. Ganesan

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