Re: Virama after vowel in Indic

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Sat Mar 01 2003 - 10:34:40 EST

  • Next message: Andy White: "RE: Virama after vowel in Indic"

    Anirban Mitra made some interesting points.

    At 07:17 +0000 2003-03-01, Anirban Mitra wrote:
    >It is difficult for non-indic thinking person to understand the
    >absurdity of the concept of virama sitting after a vowel.

    That might be true, based on what you learned about writing in
    school. But the plain fact of the matter is that -- with regard to
    ya-phalaa -- this is exactly what you do.

    >The virama is meant to strip a consonant of its inherent vowel "a".
    >As a side effect of this it combines two consonants when it sits
    >between then. It is not an exclusive combining mark so that it can
    >combine a vowel (how can you strip a vowel of its inherent
    >vowel?)and a consonsnt as unicode FAQ asks its to be.

    It may not strip an inherent vowel, but it does attach itself to an
    independent vowel.

    >As per history of the letter A_YAPAHALAA_AA, there is no mention of
    >this composite in original "Varna Parichay- Part 2" by Iswarchandra
    >Vidyasagar, -unanimously considered by bengalies the original
    >alphabet of modern Bengali. This was probably added later to
    >tranliterrate words like Academic from English.

    This is not correct. For example, in Sanskrit and Bengali, we have
    the word pratyeka 'each, every'. This is derived from the Sanskrit
    root prati (expressing likeness or comparison) plus eka 'one'. In
    Sanskrit orthography i + e becomes ye and is so written. Now in
    Bengali this word also exists and in both languages what is written
    is PA + VIRAMA + RA + TA + VIRAMA + YA + E + KA. In Bengali, however,
    it is not pronounced [pratje:ka] as it is in Sanskrit; it is
    pronounced [prottek]. Nevertheless, the orthographic syllable is tya,
    and is so written. It is also the case that in initial syllables,
    when this ya is used, the sound formed is [ę]; cf. byaakaran.a
    'grammar', pronounced [bękOron].

    Although you may think it illogical, the fact of the matter is that
    at some stage in Bengali written history, noticing that byaa was
    pronounced [bę] encouraged an extension of this, so that by applying
    it to an independent vowel an initial [ę] could be pronounced in
    initial position. It is Bengalis who invented this practice, not us.
    We just encoded it.

    This kind of innovation is not really all that unusual in Brahmic
    scripts. In the Cham script of Vietnam, for instance, vowel matras
    can be applied to both consonants and independent vowels. In Khmer,
    independent vowels can follow the coeng (virama) and be subscripted.

    >It should not be coded as a_virama-aakaar as for reasons mentioned above.

    Your argument does not convince, and does not take the historic fact
    into account.

    >Even ileap - the iscii word processor considered it to be a separate
    >moderen vowel and placed it corrosponding to the chandra_a in

    I am sure that Unicode and ISCII data can be exchanged with regard to
    this matter.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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