[INDOLOGY] Diacriticals in unicode, single or multiple glyphs

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 16:30:36 UTC 2016

On this issue of combining accents or single pre-combined glyphs, Andrew
Ollett has already stated the issues.  The Unicode Consortium's
documentation about this business is at

   - http://unicode.org/reports/tr15/

As Andrew said, the terminology is "Normalization Form," and there are
several of these, and quite a few points to consider when writing programs
to work with Unicode.  The Unicode consortium makes available algorithms
for dealing with all this, and modern text-processing software libraries
for Unicode are commonly aware of Normalization Forms and "do the right
thing," so the end-user doesn't have to worry.

This doesn't always work, though.  I find that when I cut-n-paste from
WorldCat, for example, into JabRef, all the accented letters are retained
in NFD format, and it's annoying.

Mostly, when we talk about typing IAST with pre-composed, single-glyph
characters like ā, we're doing what the Unicode people call "Normal Form
Composed" or NFC.  The files in SARIT and elsewhere are in this format.


Professor Dominik Wujastyk <http://ualberta.academia.edu/DominikWujastyk>

Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity

Department of History and Classics <http://historyandclassics.ualberta.ca/>
University of Alberta, Canada

South Asia at the U of A:


On 18 November 2016 at 05:58, Harry Spier <hspier.muktabodha at gmail.com>

> Dear list members,
> In unicode you can write characters with diacriticals with either a single
> glyph or you can combine the character with the diacritical writing it in
> two glyphs.
> This is a problem when one searchs sanskrit etexts.
> For example, the letters with diacriticals in the Muktabodha digital
> library are written with one glyph and as far as I can see GRETIL does the
> same thing.  But the transcoding utility at  "The Sanskrit Library"
> http://sanskritlibrary.org/transcodeText.html
> combines letters with their diacriticals in two glyphs.
>  So if you used the Sanskrit Library utility to create a transliterated
> word such as for example: *śākti* and then searched texts from either
> GRETIL or Muktabodha for that word your search wouldn't find anything.
> Thanks,
> Harry Spier
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