South Asian transliteration standards (fwd)

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Thu Feb 6 06:24:08 EST 1997

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 1997 16:08:13 GMT
From: John Clews <Converse at>
To: d.wujastyk at
Subject: South Asian transliteration standards

South Asian transliteration standards

I am the chair of the International Organization for Standardization
subcommittee responsible for transliteration (ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of
Written Languages).

Despite all the work on ISO/IEC 10646 and Unicode, there will always be a
need for transliteration as long as people do not have the same level of
competence in all scripts besides the script used in their mother-tongue,
and may have a need to deal with these languages, or when they have to
deal with mechanical or computerised equipment which does not provide all
the scripts of characters that they need.

Dominik Wujastyk had intended to cover both transliteration and character set
issues as a preliminary to other ISO work in this area, in workshops at
the recent World Sanskrit Congress in Bangalore (January 1997) but due to
the large and rather unwieldy size of that Congress, these plans were

Dominik, Tony Stone and I discussed these issues further at a meeting at
the Wellcome Institute for the History iof Medicine in London on 29
January 1997. It is hoped to get a working group of ISO/TC46/SC2
(Conversion of Written Languages) established which can work on one or
more standards to cover transliteration of Indic scripts.

This would work on developing a model ISO draft standard into a full ISO
standard in due course, following normal ISO procedures. A meeting of
ISO/TC46/SC2 and several of its working groups will take place at the
British Standards Institution in London from May 12-14. Dominik Wujastyk
originally offered to act as Project Editor for this, but due to
other commitments has had to withdraw. Tony Stone has agreed to step in as
Project Editor until this is confirmed in May, and beyond May 1997 unless
any other experts are nominated.

It is also intended to attract various other experts, besides those
nominated by national member bodies, who could contribute by email in
developing drafts and providing comments. Gaining international consensus
is a major aim of ISO. For this reason the conv-dev at list on
transliteration of Indic scripts has recently been set up, to complement
the tc46sc2 at list on transliteration in general.

For those of you not already on tc46sc2 at list on transliteration,
and who are interested in transliteration, I would suggest that you join
that first, as the conv-dev at list on Indic transliteration is not
yet fully operational.

The tc46sc2 at list on transliteration

People are now begining to realise that transliteration may have more
indirect impact on other aspects of multilingual computing than they had
previously realised.

The secretary (Evangelos Melagrakis from Greece) and I now intend to make
transliteration and ISO/TC46/SC2 far more visible and far more relevant to
end users than it has been in the past.

To enable this, an electronic mailing list for ISO/TC46/SC2 (tc46sc2 at
has now been set up by ELOT (the Greek national standards body). We hope this
list will attract researchers and scientists who can add useful information
which might assist in developing standards on the Conversion of Written

We also hope to have an emphasis on issues of using computers to do
appropriate transformations necessary in automated transliteration, and also
look forward to having regular contact with those on this list who are
interested in such issues.

There are quite a few with an interest in transliteration of South Asian
langauges in library catalogues on the list, and many other potential
users of transliteration too.

There are now over 240 subscribers to tc46sc2 at, from 41 countries
and territories - one of the most international lists around. However, we
would still appreciate more input and participation from Asian countries.

One major advantage of email is the ability to involve far more people in
the development of a common purpose than were involved before, to get user
feedback, and expert opinion from various sources.

Subscribing to the mailing list for ISO/TC46/SC2

In order to join the list you should be actively involved in using
transliteration systems, or in developing transliteration systems, and should
be prepared to contribute to the list from time to time.

If you wish to join the list, send an email to

        majordomo at

with this message in the body of the text:

        subscribe tc46sc2 your at email.address

(but with your real email address replacing the string your at email.address).

To find out further commands you can use, send the command "help" as the text
of an email either to tc46sc2-request at or to: majordomo at
To unsubscribe, send the command "unsubscribe" instead, omitting the "quotes"
marks in both cases. This will tell you how to obtain copies of past
messages etc., and other useful features.

Once you are subscribed, you can send messages to tc46sc2 at and receive
messages from other members of the list. Please reply where possible to the
list as a whole, so that all can benefit: using the Group Reply function
(pressing G on some email software) is the simplest way to achieve this.

Other members will also be interested to see who else is joining the list, so
it is useful to send a brief introduction (say, one or two short paragraphs)
to tc46sc2 at at the outset, saying what languages, scripts and other
things you are involved in. That is the most likely way to stimulate others
to write on the subjects you are interested in!

You should also inform your national standards body to express your interest
in participating in this list. I can provide some information on details of
your national member body of ISO, if you send me an email requesting this.

I look forward to seeing new participants on this list. Please feel free to
forward this to anyone else who may be interested in transliteration
standardisation issues, and to send any queries about the list to me.

                                   Yours sincerely

                                     John Clews
   John Clews (Chairman of ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of Written Languages)

SESAME Computer Projects, 8 Avenue Rd.  *  email: Converse at
Harrogate, HG2 7PG, United Kingdom      *     telephone: +44 (0) 1423 888 432

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