typing Sanskrit

Leslaw Borowski tantrapl at hektor.umcs.lublin.pl
Sun Sep 8 08:46:08 EDT 1996

This is an answer to G. Huet who is a lexicographer and definitely
a man of wast experience in rendering Sanskrit. I would not like 
to deny any of his statements. In fact, I lack knowledge on many issues
G. Huet et other list members are aquainted with by daily practice. What I
would like to suggest is not to lose of our sight the fact 1) there exist an
international transcription of Sanskrit in Roman script and 2) net users
which are not expert philologist and computer wizzard but would like to 
discuss Indian problems while using some system of transcription which is
easy to learn, convenient to type, and close to the international
> First of all, let us not confuse 3 completely different views of
> computerized sanskrit:
> 1. What actual keys you type on your keybord when inputing
> 2. What ASCII characters get entered in the computer text file
> 3. What printing characters you get when you process this file with
> a text processing system, either on paper or on your computer screen.
> What happens at 1 is basically your own problem: no two keyboards are the same,
> different operating systems interpret keys differently, you may customize your
> favorite text editor with macro-characters, etc etc 
> No need of standardisation here, everyone manages his own input convention.
	I am glad to get support for my distinction between production and
presentation and I think it is important to further distinguish between 1
and 2.

I think many keyboards are very similar and the number of popular text editors
is limited but principally it is true that one can customize this or that to
get an expected result on a screen or paper. However customization requires
some effort to choose, find and apply the right scheme. I would suspect not 
so many people would like to spend time for looking for it. A group of
scholars would do it but not many others. Therefore for highly specific
tasks it may be right to devote some time for convenient and high output
means which have little to do with learned and intuitive practice of typing
Sanskrit etc. However, for people who would not like to use customised but
often inconvenient procedures while typing say a text in German or Polish 
about Indian words for this discussion list or "usenet news" it could be 
good to have a possibility of typing without using keys like ctrl and alt 
(I imagine in German you would have to use some of the keys very often).  

> 2 is important, because it is computer files which are shipped around and
> processed by computer tools on which we must agree. But, as Dominik said
> many times, it does not really matter what is the convention as long as it
> is unambiguous, since these conventions are parseable with easy grammars
> amenable to tools such as oak/sed/lex/yacc/perl etc to translate into each
> other. 

> The second mode permits the TeX processing convention for diacritics,
> so that my romanized transliteration at level 3 will be with standard
> REAL diacritics (i.e. not prefix or infix, but two-dimensional with a nice
> dot below the "s"). 
However, people don't use much TeX for less specific tasks. I am not sure it
it ever will be as popular as Word or WordPerfect and I am not sure if it
can be easily applied for post editor.
I would like to thank for the explanation of point 2. It helped to realise
the problems which are important. However, I don't quite know if it could
be possible to accept a convention of write eg s_  instead of .s. Judgeing
by D. Wujastyk and G. Huet words it could be possible. 
> I hope I did not add to the confusion...
No, definitely not. You simply helped to realize the complexity of the
problem. While my preocupation were points 3) and (a little) 1)
G. Huet seems to concentrate on 2).

I have to say I cannot give definitive answers on how one should render
Hindi words. My general idea is the rendition should not be essentialy
different from the proposed scheme for Sanskrit and it should take into
account the existing patterns of romaniseing Hindi and other Indian
languages. I don't feel I have enough of competence for it. I read Hindi
only in commentaries to Sanskrit texts and they are in Indian scripts so
I may not realise problems of transcription. I guess some list members 
felt I was to bold in proposing to render kh with a dot as x. I would like
to adhere to the accepted scheme of transcription of Hindi but I did not
have any contact with it so far.
If somebody would like to develop BO beyond Sanskrit accepting the general
lines of it please do. I am not sure if this could be a subject of general
discussion on the list. Maybe it is better to shift it to private post.
 Thank you,
		Leslaw Borowski


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