Re: Sanskrit nasalized L

From: Shriramana Sharma <>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 07:21:20 +0530

On 08/15/2011 01:48 AM, Richard Wordingham wrote:
>>>> <la, virama, candrabindu, la>
>>>> is strictly speaking *the* sequence recommended *across* Indic
>>>> scripts for representation of Sanskrit clusters involving a nasal
>>>> and non-nasal "semivowel".
>> However, people working with Indic rendering in a major operating
>> system support the concept (see
> Thanks, that's useful as a reference - it helps me find it later.

You should also see Peter Constable's mail to me (and the list):

"""As you and I independently commented, it makes sense to see the
virama as being in a distribution class together with matras and,
therefore, for the virama to precede candrabindu."""

> The issues is on the relative ordering of candrabindu and virama. For
> a C1-conjoining form (i.e. C2 relatively unmodified),<la virama
> candrabindu la> is easier to handle. For a C2-conjoining form,<la
> candrabindu virama la> is easier to work with.

Hmm -- perhaps you mean this is so because it would be possible to
easily map Virama + LA to the C2-conjoining form? This is true enough,
but it is advisable to have a single uniform representation across Indic
scripts and that is LA + Virama + Candrabindu + LA (because of the
reasons outlined by Peter and me in the previous mails I have linked to
from the archives).

Further, the situation, especially with C2-conjoining scripts, is not
all that simple. See the attachment: the underlying phonetic consonant
cluster is nasal-V + V + LA. It would be represented in encoded form as:
VA + Virama + Candrabindu + VA + Virama + LA. As you say it would indeed
be *easier* (in some way) if the Candrabindu were to precede the virama
but I am not sure that is *advisable*.

> Vowels and the like already occur within Tai Tham and Khmer consonant
> clusters with C2-conjoining forms.

I know that and that is why I distinguish "Indian" Indic scripts and
"non-Indian" (i.e. South East Asian [SEA]) Indic (i.e. Brahmic) scripts,
especially in Unicode. It seems that at least in Khmer (I didn't check
the other charts/chapters) one vocalic R/L vowel is represented by the
independent vowel presented as a sub-base (which you call C2, but as it
is not a consonant it is not actually a "C"-2) form, but haven't you
noticed that it is true of all Indic scripts so far encoded that the
vowel sign for vocalic L/LL is the same as the independent vowel placed
(albeit in a somewhat smaller size) below the base? It is simply a
choice of encoding model -- in Indic (I'll stop calling it "Indian"
Indic as I feel "Brahmic" is the coverall term and Indic is a specific
term) all these vowel signs are encoded as separate characters whereas
in SEA they are handled by a virama-like character like sub-base consonants.

> Normally the virama equivalent (CCC
> 9) occurs immediately before C2, but that can already be displaced in
> normalised text, e.g. the Northern Thai loan word ᩈᩮᩥᩁ᩠᩺ᨷ (from English
> 'serve') normalised to ᩈᩮᩥᩁ᩠᩺ᨷ<U+1A48 TAI THAM LETTER HIGH SA, U+1A6E
> U+1A37 TAI THAM LETTER BA>. The rendering on p155 of Bunkhit
> Watcharasat's 'Northern Thai Teach-Yourself Book' (Siamese:
> ภาษาเมืองล้านนา ฉบับเรียนด้วยตนเอง) makes it clear that the ra haam
> (vowel killer, here acting as a consonant killer) acts on the letter ra.

Hmmm -- I'm not sure I entirely grok the SEA situation with Thai/Tai
Tham/Khmer etc, but I'm sure the handling of vowelless consonants and
conjoining forms in those scripts does deviate from the *Indic* model.
For example, see that stuff about the Balinese Surang and how it is

> I've seen a claim that vowels within Tibetan consonant stacks can be
> handled sensibly within the confines of Unicode - I didn't investigate
> it.

I don't understand what you mean by "vowels within Tibetan consonant
stacks". I also don't know whether Tibetan language written in Tibetan
script requires the conjoining forms of vowels but I do know (to an
extent) that Sanskrit written in Tibetan doesn't require "conjoining"
forms of vowels per se generated by a virama-like character.

> I think an official ruling should cover all Indic scripts,
> ideally even those encoded in writing order, such as Thai. (I'm
> presuming the Thai script's subscript consonants will be supported one
> day, and Lao already has one unambiguously subscript consonant.)

I would prefer for a ruling to first focus on the (Indian) Indic scripts
and its extension to SEA scripts be done on a script-by-script basis
after examination of the existing model for those scripts. It would not
be appropriate IMHO to hastily apply the (Indian) Indic model to SEA

Shriramana Sharma

Received on Sun Aug 14 2011 - 20:54:15 CDT

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