Re: Titles and headings in Georgian script

From: Aiet Kolkhi (
Date: Tue Jul 24 2007 - 17:14:59 CDT

  • Next message: Denis Jacquerye: "Re: Titles and headings in Georgian script"


    this is a very interesting question.

    To put it short, this is somewhat incorrect to comprare "Mtavruli"
    (capital) style of contemporary Georgian alphabet (Mkhedruli) to small
    caps font style. And it is definitely wrong to look for solutions in
    CSS and other typographical directions, as the two "styles" or scripts
    (consider as you like) are different in shape and changing size of the
    characters would not give us Mtavruli style from Mkedruli script, nor
    the other way around.

    The only solution enabling users to use Georgian Mtavruli style
    together with Georgian contemporary Mkhedruli alphabet would be to add
    Georgian Mtavruli style range to Unicode (or to apply fonts on
    different parts of the text, one font having Georgian Mkhedruli
    characters in 10D0-10FF range and the other using Mtavruli style of
    Georgian Mkedruli character in the same 10D0-10FF range).

    Now more detailed explanation:

    Being I believe the only Georgian member in Unicode, let me say a few
    words about Georgian contemporary alphabet and its use. I apologize in
    advance if the explanation is a bit too long.

    The first Georgian alphabet known today is Georgian Asomtavruli (or
    Mrglovani), created in Georgia before Christianity was officially
    adopted. The earliest evidence is 1st–3rd Cent. A.D. inscriptions
    found in Nekrisi, Eastern Georgia. Though some historical texts refer
    to Georgian alphabet in 3rd Cent. B.C.

    Asomtvruli has been presented since early versions of Unicode in
    10A0–10C5 range as unicameral script. Asomtavruli was indeed
    unicameral (though capital) and used as the only alphabet for writing
    Georgian before the second Georgian alphabet, Nuskhuri (Khutshuri) was
    introduced for wide use in about 9th Cent. A.D. During the period of
    9th–11th Cent. A.D., both scripts were used, Asomtavruli as capitals
    and Nuskhuri (Khutsuri) as lowercase.

    Nuskhuri (Khutsuri) was added to Unicode in version 5 (Georgian
    Supplement. Range: 2D00–2D2F), as lowercase to Asomtavruli range
    (10A0–10C5). In version 5 also, Asomtavruli was changed from caseless
    state to uppercase script for Nuskhuri (Khutsuri).

    The contemporary Georgian (third) alphabet, called Mkhedruli, has been
    widely used since 11 Cent A.D. and is used today. It has been a
    unicameral script, though today's use has raised discussions among
    linguists and experts.

    Mkedruli has been presented in Unicode since early versions, in
    10D0–10FF range as unicameral script.

    In 18 Cent. A.D. famous Georgian scientist and public figure Nikoloz
    Tbileli created Mtavruli style of Mkdedruli alphabet. The style has
    been used for headings, titles etc., and for short time, it was used
    the same way uppercase is used in English, for geographical names,
    beginning of sentence etc. though this did not last long and its use
    remained for headings and titles.

    At present, the use of Mtavruli style is increasing. Nearly all
    titles, headings, subtitles are written with Mtavruli stye. Comparing
    an English-language newspaper with Georgian one reveals that English
    language newspaper includes only one headline in uppercase, out of ten
    headlines on front page. Georgian newspaper uses Mtavruli style on all
    ten headlines as well as all titles in ads placed on newspapers,
    billboards etc.

    The crawling news ticker on BBC News is written in lowercase, whereas
    crawling news text on Georgian TV stations in written with Mtavruli
    style. Also, any title, credits text or caption on Georgian TV is
    written with Mtavruli.

    As a result, language experts are considering creating a language
    norm, limiting the use of Mtavruli style to only headings, to make
    sure Mtavruli style does not replace Mkhedruli alphabet.

    BTW, some linguists report France facing similar danger, as using all
    caps in formal correspondence is becoming more and more frequent,
    abolishing French accents from texts that are not used when text is
    written in uppercase.

    So, to sum up my long text,

    1. Mtavruli style is different in shape from Mkhedruli and thus
    comparing it to Small Caps style is incorrect. Also, small caps text
    can be created from any latin font, using uppercase characters,
    whereas Georgian Mtavruli style would require special font which would
    put mtavruli style glyphs instead of Mkhedruli.

    2. Mtavruli style's use is increasing rapidly and is presently used on
    virtually all headings, ad texts, captions, titles and texts on TV

    3. There is no language norm or style guide yet requiring or limiting
    the use of Mtavruli style or Mkhedruli style in certain cases. No
    language norm differentiates Mkhedruli from Mtavruli style.

    4. Georgia still has not decided about the norm or style guide of
    using Mtavruli style.

    5. User's requirement to be able to write texts in mkhedruli with
    Mtavrili style has resulted in creating number of Georgian unicode
    typefaces [1] incompatible to Unicode, since they correctly place
    Georgian Mkhedruli characters in 10D0–10FF range, but also incorrectly
    place Mtavruli style characters in 10A0–10C5 range (which is intended
    for ancient Georgian Asomtavruli characters in Unicode). Fonts like
    that are very commonly used on all operating systems and webpages and
    default for Georgian font on almost any Linux distribution. A good
    example is site of Georgian Parliament [2], which tries to use
    Mtavruli style for navigation menu and has to load Georgian font
    dynamically (which only works on Internet Explorer) and this font is
    incompatible to Unicode in the same manner I described.

    As a result, if someone visits Parliament of Georgia website from any
    other browser or operating system and does not happen to have
    installed the same incompatible Georgian font on the system, he/she
    sees Georgian Asomtavruli (obsolete) characters in site navigation
    menu and headings :)

    So the issue is a bit complicated.

    I will write to you as soon as there is some progress in this regard.

    I am sorry for the long mail.

    Kind regards,
    Noshre Chkhaidze (Aiet Kolkhi)
    Georgian Localizations

    [1] Fonts encoded in this incorrect manner include BPG Glaho, Ingiri,
    BPG Couerier, Zuzumbo etc. and nearly all typefaces from leading
    Georgian font vendor BPG Info-Tech - and


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