[INDOLOGY] ISO15919 and case insensitivity

Tyler Williams tylerwwilliams at gmail.com
Thu Jun 20 15:49:52 UTC 2019

Dear Dániel (and Arlo),

While I'm afraid that I cannot contribute any answers to your questions, I
do want to express support for your effort of finding ways to modify
ISO15919 for epigraphical and codicological material. In addition to the
issue of initial/full vowels and missing consonant glyphs in manuscripts, I
frequently run into problems with transliterating manuscript material
(usually vernacular but sometimes Sanskrit) that 1) uses multiple glyphs
for the what is ostensibly the same consonant (perhaps the result of
unstated phonological rules), or 2) in which vowel matras are used appended
to full vowel glyphs to indicate certain sounds (e.g. dipthongs). This is
in addition to the numerous challenges posed by transliterating texts
copied in the Arabic script, which represents morphological distinctions
orthographically through the use of word breaks, diacritical marks, etc.

All this to say that, should there be a discussion on proposed changes, I
would be happy to contribute (and learn from others).


On Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 6:54 PM Arlo Griffiths via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> It is possible to obtain some responses to the questions that Dániel asked
> on our joint behalf? It would be greatly appreciated.
> Many thanks, and best wishes,
> Arlo Griffiths
> ------------------------------
> *From:* INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of
> Dániel Balogh via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
> *Sent:* Monday, June 10, 2019 10:52 AM
> *To:* indology
> *Subject:* [INDOLOGY] ISO15919 and case insensitivity
> Dear All,
> I believe some members of the esteemed community reading this were
> involved in drawing up the ISO15919 transliteration standard. I would be
> very happy to correspond with someone, here or off-list, about some generic
> issues and at the moment one particular question.
> The generic issues would pertain to using a modified ISO standard in web
> and hardcopy publications, including some modifications that prevent us
> from making a "claim of conformance" as per section 2 of the standard.
> Beyond the practical issue of having to explain to our readers where we
> deviate from the standard, I see no problem associated with this, but I may
> be missing something. At any rate, a proliferation of idiosyncratic
> transliteration systems is not desirable, which leads to the second set of
> generic issues: by whom and how is the ISO standard maintained at present,
> and is there any chance of proposing slight modifications/addenda/special
> cases to it?
> The particular question right now is this. The standard explicitly says
> that all transliterations must be case insensitive (Section 8.1 Rule 1).
> Some of us, however, are thinking of using uppercase Roman characters to
> transliterate 1. final consonants represented in historic scripts by
> special "halanta" character forms (instead of the addition of a virāma
> sign), and 2. initial/full vowels.
> The latter could be made clear using the disambiguation sign already
> codified in the standard (e.g. transliterating प्रउग as pra:uga), but we
> feel that using Roman uppercase for both these phenomena is intuitively
> similar to the practice of the original script. [Not directly relevant to
> the question at hand is that we would also introduce an additional symbol
> for transliterating the explicit virāma sign to handle final or conjunct
> consonants created with such a sign.]
> We would use this notation for epigraphic material, but as far as I can
> see it would be equally advantageous in codicology where a diplomatic
> transliteration is desirable. Unambiguously (and in some cases redundantly)
> differentiating final vowel forms is useful not only in cases where these
> are used as a means of text segmentation (e.g. the final consonant of a
> verse quarter is inscribed using a special form, followed by the initial
> consonant of the next quarter, without an intervening punctuation sign but
> with the clear intent of representing the yati in writing), but also where
> partially legible text precedes or follows a lacuna (e.g. occasionally a
> legible vowel mātrā is attached to a lost/illegible consonant, and it is
> desirable to make it clear in the transliteration that the vowel read is
> not a full vowel akṣara).
> Many thanks in advance for any enlightening comments, and my apologies for
> going into possibly unnecessary detail on the why and how.
> Daniel
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