RE: Virama after vowel in Indic

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Sat Mar 01 2003 - 16:06:14 EST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "RE: Virama after vowel in Indic"

    At 18:05 +0000 2003-03-01, Andy White wrote:

    >No one has ever written a Virama after a vowel, never ever. You will
    >not find it in any printed matter, except in the Indic FAQ, and in
    >articles discussing the FAQ.
    >*You will however find a Ya-phalaa after a vowel*.

    Ya-phalaa can be found after a vowel, and after a consonant. It is a
    conjunct form of YA, and is produced by the sequence VIRAMA + YA.

    > > >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.
    >You are muddled here. Dr Mitra is talking about 'Virama'. You seem to be
    >talking about Ya-phalaa.

    No, I said what I meant. I will say it again. The virama when
    attached to a consonant kills the inherent vowel. It is also used to
    alter the glyph shape of the preceding consonant, or the following
    consonant, or both. In the case of TA + VIRAMA + YA, the YA takes the
    squiggly ya-phalaa form. Unusually, the VIRAMA + YA can follow an
    independent vowel, in which case there is no "vowel killing" per se,
    but in which the the YA takes the squiggly ya-phalaa form. Same
    behaviour, same encoding.

    >I must cut in here. I am concerned that you seem to think that Bengalis
    >write 'pratyeka' as PA + VIRAMA + RA + TA + VIRAMA + YA + E + KA.
    >It was not until the advent of ISCII and Unicode that anyone thought of
    >japhalaa as being the same as VIRAMA + YA. Ask a Bengali teacher what
    >the equivalent to 'Virama-Ya' is, and you will most likely get a blank
    >or puzzled face.

    Fine. So give them a single key on their input methods if they cannot
    abide typing VIRAMA + YA, so that when they press the key the
    sequence VIRAMA+YA is entered. Hide the encoding from them if you
    must. But don't ask us to change the encoding, which is historically
    accurate and works just fine.

    > > 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 notion is wrong. Bengalis invented the placing of 'Yaphalaa' after
    >'A' not 'virama'. And you are proposing to encode it in an semantically
    >incorrect way.

    And Ya-phalaa is encoded as VIRAMA + YA.

    Look, this is pretty simple. BYAA (BA + VIRAMA + YA + AA) is
    pronounced [bę]. AYAA (A + VIRAMA + YA + AA) is pronounced [ę]. We
    encode both in the same way.

    >Viramas and vowels should mix in the Unicode encoding scheme. That is
    >why we have Vowel Signs.
    >E.g. The syllable 'KU' is a combination of 'Ka' and 'Full Vowel U'. It
    >is encoded as 'Ka' + 'VowelSignU' is Unicode. It could also be said that
    >'KU' can be encoded as 'Ka'+'Virama'+'Full_Vowel_U' - but that is in
    >line with the Unicode Indic encoding scheme.

    This isn't the same. YA is a consonant, not a vowel sign, and it is
    affected by the preceding VIRAMA. As it happens, the special shape
    that consonant gets affects the pronunciation in a peculiar way (so
    that the sound [ja] isn't heard) but that is incidental.

    >(Incidentally that is also why the example in TUS3.0, Chapter 9, page
    >214, Figure 9-3 ("Conjunct Formations"), example (4) is also wrong as
    >previously discussed. That example 'conjunct' is correctly encoded as
    >Ra+'VowelSignVocalicR' in Unicode and not as shown.

    Yes, we know that that figure is an error, and have verified it with
    Monier-Williams' Sanskrit dictionary, and it will be corrected.

    > > I am sure that Unicode and ISCII data can be exchanged with regard to
    >> this matter.
    >Not very easily, the exchange of data will require a 'four-character
    >ahead lookup'

    One understands that this is not all that difficult.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Mar 01 2003 - 16:34:03 EST