RE: Virama after vowel in Indic

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Sat Mar 01 2003 - 17:45:47 EST

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

    At 22:19 +0000 2003-03-01, Andy White wrote:
    >Michael Everson tries hard to understand my point of view, but really he
    >does not :-(

    Actually I try to get you to understand our point of view.

    >And Michael Everson said:
    >> This isn't the same. YA is a consonant, not a vowel sign,
    >Actually Ya is a semi-vowel. That is why it behaves like a vowel

    Irrelevant to the question at hand. It is classed among the
    consonants, as opposed to the independent vowels or the vowel signs.
    Of course, its semivocalic nature is why original [bja:] came to be
    pronounced [b].

    Where we differ is in understanding that what is in question here is
    not the intrinsic encoding, but rather the READING RULES. We write
    B-Y-AA and A-Y-AA and we say [b] and []. The B is consonant BA,
    killed by virama but not changing its shape. The A is independent
    vowel, not really "killed" by virama but serving as a non-consonantal
    placeholder so that [] can be written in word-initial position. The
    Y is consonant YA, taking a squiggly form as a conjunct with the
    previous letter. VIRAMA produces that conjunct. The AA is a vowel
    sign, which needs no further explanation.

    > > and it is affected by the preceding VIRAMA.
    >Well, thats where people with an in-depth understanding of the script
    >do not agree.

    Well, golly, I just have a historical understanding of the history of
    the vertical squiggle. It is a presentation form of the consonant YA.

    Bengalis innovated from the original Brahmic model by making a
    conjunct between an initial vowel and a following consonant. This was
    an excellent and creative solution to the problem of representing []
    in initial position.

    >1. When Yaphalaa occurs after a consonant it is semantically
    >equivalent to a dead consonant plus the letter Ya. Therefore in such
    >cases Yaphalaa can be encoded as Consonant+Virama+Ya. This is
    >correct because a dead consonant is semantically equivalent to
    >'Consonant+Virama' and 'Japhalaa' is semantically equivalent to 'Ya'
    >when it occurs after a dead consonant. I reiterate, 'Japhalaa' is
    >equivalent to 'Ya'. *Not 'Virama Ya'*.

    No. Yes. What I see is an extension of an existing system, and YES
    the virama does more than just kill the vowel. It creates conjuncts.
    It acts like a ZWJ. How the cluster is pronounced is a matter of the
    reading rules.

    >2. When Yaphalaa occurs after a vowel, it is *not* is semantically
    >equivalent to the vowel plus a Virama plus the letter Ya. Such a
    >sequence (with a Virama) is illogical to scholars of Indic languages.

    A number of languages using Brahmic script do things which you
    wouldn't find in Classical Sanskrit in Devanagari, such as applying
    vowel signs to independent vowels (Cham), or making conjuncts of
    consonants and independent vowels (Khmer), and, as we have seen,
    making conjuncts of independent vowels and consonants (Bengali).

    >Therefore in such cases Yaphalaa can *not* be encoded as Vowel+Virama+Ya.
    >(I agree with this, but you do not seem to)

    Certainly not. B-Y-AA and A-Y-AA are both structurally identical, and
    indeed, are glyphically identical except for switching out the first
    glyph. There is NO disadvantage whatsoever to this encoding model,
    AND it is historically correct.

    If you think otherwise, please come up with an actual instance of disadvantage.

    >3. Because of some seemingly logical reason not stated above, when Yaphalaa
    >occurs after a vowel, it can be encoded as Virama+Ya, despite the
    >reasons given in 1 & 2.

    I think I have demonstrated the logic, if not in previous e-mails,
    then in this one.

    >4. Because you agree with 3, TUS 4.0 is also going to state 3 in its text,

    The FAQ text has been rewritten and TUS 4.0 will specifically address
    this question, yes.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

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