Cillus in Malayalam - separate code points?

From: N. Ganesan (
Date: Fri Aug 26 2005 - 00:17:51 CDT

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    Cillaksharams should not be given
    separate codepoints as they will be equivalent to
    a consonant (with a separate Unicode code point)
    plus the virama sign. Cillaksharams will be "pure"
    consonants. Encoding just five consonants with virama
    as cillus is quite unnecessary.

    A parallel case is Tamil:
    Even though all Tamil grammars, ancient and modern,
    define Tamil consonants as without inherent /a/
    and with puLLi (viraamam), in order to fit with the Indic model, Unicode has
    defined 'uyirmey' Tamil abugidas as consonants with character names.
    In Tamil, pure consonants are not given code points just
    as cillus are missing in Malayalam.

    The linguistic analysis in Section 3.0 of Chitrajakumar/Gangadharan's paper
    makes it very clear that the forms with conjnuct letters or the ones
    with cillu forms
    are exact equivalents. The 'samvruthokaram' is the
    'kuRRiyalukaram' in the ancient Tolkaappiaym Tamil grammar.

    On the mention of alveolar and dental n in discussion
    of words "pin_nilaavum" and "pinnilaavum":

    Please note that there is no distinction between
    alveolar and dental n in Malayalam script.
    This fact can easily be verified by checking
    Malayalam and Tamil codecharts.
    Malayalam uses only one n, U+0D28 in the script.
    The 'alveolar' n code point U+0D29 is unassigned for Malayalam.
    It does not differentiate between dental and alveolar n's
    in the script. But in Tamil script, both alveolar n (U+0BA9) and
    dental n (U+0BA8) are present. Note that Malayalam U+0D28 glyph
    is more closer to the corresponding Tamil U+0BA8 glyph (ie. dental n).

    Given the fact that (1) Malayalam does not distinguish
    between dental and alveolar n's orthographically
    and (2) Section 3.0, Gangadharan/Chitarajakumar's paper
    on the topic about the equivalence betwen cillaksharam
    and conjunct forms in nma ( a parallel case: nn in pinnilaavum),
    the current Unicode implementation with Joiners like ZWJ
    to produce cillakSarams is quite adequate.

    N. Ganesan

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