Re: [unicode] Re: vertical writing mode of modern Yi?

From: Andrew West <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 21:12:27 +0100

On 29 March 2012 02:28, <> wrote:
> My observation is only in imported bookstores in Japan,
> and some photos taken by the foreign visitors. I expected
> more living vertical texts of Yi may exist in China, but
> it might be too optimistic...

I wouldn't expect to see vertical modern standard Yi text in modern
publications, other than perhaps newspapers.

> Please let me ask a stupid question for confirmation; the top/
> bottom for Old Yi glyph cannot be defined without a specification
> the time & place that the script was used? In previous post, I
> wrote as if Yunnan Old Yi glyphs were not rotated from their
> original shapes, and Sichuan Old Yi glyphs were rotated (as modern
> Liangshan Yi) - it would be hasty observation, and I should not
> assume a history as if Sichuan Old Yi glyphs were rotated at some
> stage. It's right understanding?

I'm not sure. I have little experience with Old Yi texts, but my
understanding from secondary sources is that the orientation varied
considerably from place to place, and sometimes even from village to
village in the same area. But I suspect your observation may be a
correct generalization -- I think that you know more than me on the

> Indeed, Old Yi is not coded yet, I know (rather, no official
> proposal is submitted to WG2, I think).

There is N3288 "Preliminary Proposal to encode Classical Yi
characters" submitted by China in February 2007:

<> (134MB)

This proposes 88,613 Old Yi characters, but it is just a long list of
every glyph and glyph variant (many variants with almost imperceptible
differences) that the group responsible for the proposal had managed
to find in all Old Yi texts from different times and different places
that they examined. This glyph-based encoding proposal in not
actionable, and if Old Yi is to be encoded a new character-based
proposal needs to be produced (or perhaps a number of proposals for
separate Old Yi scripts based on different regional traditions would
be better). However, I think there are too few people with a good
knowledge of both Yi scripts and Unicode for this to become a reality
any time soon.

> And, I think your pointing
> is very important - "Modern (Liangshan syllabicalized) Yi and
> Old Yi should be regarded as different scripts and they could
> have different preferences about their text layouts" (it's right
> understanding?)


> I was assuming that modern Liangshan syllabicalized Yi and Old
> Yi materials may share same preferences about vertical writing
> mode, but it might be hasty assumption - I have to agree, the
> materials in my hands are too few to push my assumption.

I only have a couple of Old Yi books on my bookshelves, so I am no
expert on the subject, but I think that in a way UCS Yi and "modern
Old Yi" (Old Yi texts in modern publication) do share the same
vertical writing preferences -- that is to say, in both scripts glyphs
are written in the same orientation for both horizontal and vertical
layout (i.e. there is no glyph rotation when horizontal text is laid
out vertically). This can be seen in the scans from the two modern
editions of Old Yi texts from Guizhou below (ISBN 7-5412-0787-X and
7-5412-0659-8 respectively) where the book title is written
horizontally on the front cover and vertically on the title page, with
no change in glyph orientation:



The key difference between these Old Yi texts and UCS Yi is that the
glyphs are rotated 90 degrees clockwise in UCS Yi compared with Old Yi
*in both horizontal and vertical layout* (cf. the 3rd character of
Sujulimi with the corresponding Liangshan Yi character ꇖ), but they
both follow the Chinese model for vertical layout.

> Checking the latest draft of UTR#50, it seems that the vertical
> writing mode for UCS Yi is different from CJK Ideographs;
> 3400..4DBF ; U ; U ; U
> 4DC0..4DFF ; U ; U ; U
> 4E00..9FFF ; U ; U ; U
> A000..A48F ; S ; S ; S
> A490..A4CF ; S ; S ; S
> I guess that somebody found a vertical writing mode of UCS Yi
> with "rotated" (umm, I should say as "recovery-rotated?")
> glyphs, or, somebody guessed the vertical writing mode of UCS
> Yi by Old Yi materials. If the background is former, I want
> to see it.

From the discussion at
<> it seems to
have been the latter case.

> In Sichuan dialects, I could not find the orientation of the glyphs
> in Sichuan volumes of ISBN 7-5367-2637-6

The characters on this page are written in the same orientation as UCS
Yi (cf. the characters ꐑꅝꐒ on the 3rd column from the left).

> More investigation is needed.

I think that a lot more investigation is required to understand how
best to encode Old Yi, and I am very glad that you are interested in
this topic.

Received on Fri Mar 30 2012 - 15:12:27 CDT

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