Re: Compiling a list of Semitic transliteration characters

From: Naena Guru <>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 18:09:03 -0500

{Sorry for this delayed response. I had it in he drafts box]


Speculation is one, doing is another. I have *successfully* transliterated
Singhala. Devanagari is perhaps less complicated. I haven't had the time
and money to do it. The difference between the two is not even as much as
between common Latin and Cyrillic.

Statements like,

Using Unicode is recommended in preference to any code page because it has
better language support and is less ambiguous than any of the code pages.

are trying to assert untruths, that people tend to believe without concrete
reasons. 'better language support' and 'less ambiguous'?

That statement is by Microsoft right in the registration of Windows-1252
that plainly contravenes Unicode:

All languages in the Developed countries in the West including English, use
Windows-1252! And all others who use double-byte etc. use UTF-8 to
transport their codes across the web, because only Single-byte codes are
trustworthy. We used Base64 for the same end in the 90s.

I agree that following ISCII, whatever it is, might be the problem. Even
so, that is no excuse for not researching enough and fixing the problem.
After all, the claim is that Unicode provides BETTER LANGUAGE SUPPORT and
LESS AMBIGUITY -- both of them were happily presented with Unicode Sinhala.
But what happened? Why do we see constant questions regarding Unicode Indic?

I researched into how Sanskrit and Pali was transliterated during the
letterpress days and why they were so successful and without loss in
mapping. If that was not so, we wouldn't have such a comprehensive Sanskrit
dictionary like Monier-Williams available on the web. The transliteration
of Sanskrit is perfect whether ITRANS or Harvard-Kyoto.

The same is true about PTS Pali.Half a century ago, I worked with Ven.
Nyanaponika (the ultimate BuJu) when printing Pali, and I know the real
technicalities letterpress printers faced. I know why certain diacritics
were chosen and why some letters were chosen over others though they seem
more logical.

I have demonstrated in the following page how romanized Singhala, IAST and
HK match perfectly, and they are simple direct mappings (read the

It is presumptuous to say, "the rest of the post is irrelevant". It has the
same attitude as the statement I gave above said by Microsoft."We know
what's best for you (and remember that we hold all the strings). So do as
we say".

*halanta *means *hal anta*, ending consonant. (*hal *= consonant).
*virAma *means
closing and in grammar it means the last consonant without a vowel
following it. *mAtra *means a measure. It is an IE cognate of measure,
meter etc. In grammar it means the spoken length of a short vowel, same as
mora in Latin. All these three terms are used misleadingly in
Unicode documentation. Instead of 'language support', it mangles language.

I checked the Arabic alphabet in Wikipedia. It is similar to the older
Indic writing, Brahmi in particular, where there is no consonant sign, but
it is understood in the context (a, i etc).

On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 1:16 PM, Richard Wordingham <> wrote:

> On Fri, 7 Sep 2012 11:43:59 -0500
> Naena Guru <> wrote:
> > Transliteration or Romanizing
> >
> > My first advice is not to embark on making solutions for languages
> > that you do not know. Unicode ruined Indic and Singhala by making
> > 'solutions' for them by not doing any meaningful research and
> > ignoring well-known Sanskrit grammar and previous solutions for Indic.
> The problems, if any, are due to thinking that the Indians understood
> what they were doing when they developed ISCII. Such problems as
> there are appear to arise from a belief that all Indic scripts are like
> Devanagari.
> > I romanized Singhala, probably the most complex script among all
> > Indic, and made an orthographic font that in turn shows the
> > transliterated text in its native script.
> >
> >
> > Some reasons for romanizing:
> <snip>
> > 3. Make the language accessible to those who are not familiar with the
> > script
> The rest of the post is irrelevant. Transliterations from Semitic
> languages have been established for this reason, and possibly because
> of costs of making and setting type. One issue at hand is that there is
> not a *single* transliteration to hand, and certainly not a single
> pan-Semitic one. Therefore I strongly doubt that an 8-bit code would
> encompass everything that was needed.
> Richard.
Received on Thu Sep 20 2012 - 18:14:55 CDT

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