Burmese vowels

From: Michael Forgey (forgey@bigfoot.com)
Date: Wed Oct 14 1998 - 01:53:05 EDT

I've been reviewing the Burmese Unicode proposal and have a couple of
questions regarding Burmese vowels.

1. 'ui' vowel

In comparing the proposal from M. Everson's web page dated 1997-01-22 with
the "PDAM for ISO/IEC 10646-1: 1993/Amd.26: 1998 (E)", the characters for
'ui' in Everson, 14E4 and 14E5, are dropped in the PDAM. Should they be

Just in observing it, I would guess that 'ui' developed as a combination of
the distinct vowels 'u' and 'i'. Is this a diphthong? Is 'ui' now also a
distinct vowel?

If 'ui' is not included as a single code, then is it expected that it
should be represented in the data stream with the two codes 'u' + 'i'? This
would be quite exceptional for a viramic language, wouldn't it? In five
years I don't think I have ever seen a case where two dependant vowels are
"attached" to a single consonant in a Brahmic language.

2. independent/initial vowels

According to "The World's Writing Systems", Daniels/Bright, pg. 453, item
(d); in Burmese ("native words") initial vowels are represented by applying
the dependent vowel diacritics to "the vowel support sign" which is the
same glyph as that for independent 'a'. This is illustrated quite a bit in
that volume, as well as in the Nakanishi book.

Does this mean that it is expected that in the Unicode data stream these
initial vowels would be represented by 1721+172C or 1721+172D (using the
PDAM codes)? This also seems quite exceptional for a Brahmic language;
attaching dependent vowels onto an independent vowel. Is that even allowed
in Unicode?

Or is it expected that an initial vowel Unicode such as 1723 can be
rendered either with the glyph used in the PDAM chart or with the glyph for
independent 'a' ,1721, with the appropriate diacritic glyph? From an
implementation point of view I think that would be difficult to deal with,
especially if both of these alternate presentations would be frequently
occurring within a single document.

In Gurmukhi there are two special characters which are described as "base
for vowels", U+0A72 and U+0A73. Should something like that be included in

thanks for any response,
mike forgey
Michael Forgey
2201 W. William Cannon Dr. #224
Austin, TX 78745 USA
tel: (512) 441-7390 fax: (512) 441-7742

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