Transliteration, fonts and modern Indian Languages

Harry Spier harryspier at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 29 21:52:23 EST 1999


Dear list members,

I have been asked to find a font to display some Indian chants on a video
screen. Some of these are in Sanskrit, some in Hindi and some in Marathi.
The chanting book from which these come follows the ISO draft standard for
the transliteration of Indian languages and they want to maintain this
standard. The video interface software requires TTF fonts. This is what
prompted my question about whether CSX+ is the only font that fully
implements this draft standard and whether Dr. John Smith's fonts were the
only CSX+ encoded fonts.  Some of the chants have long nasalized vowels
(such as long nasalized e which is represented by e-macron-tilde).  I found
many fonts that had short vowels with a tilde but the only ones I found that
had e-macron-tilde were Dr. Smith's CSX+ fonts.  However the people putting
on the chanting program want  to see other typefaces. Dr. Smith's program
mkt1font (written in PERL) appears to address this issue but it produces
Type 1 fonts and the documentation says it requires t1asm and t1disasm which
as far as I can see run under Unix or Linux.  My system is Windows 98 and
the video interface software requires True Type fonts.  There appears to
many font utilities that convert type 1 to True Type so theoretically this
shouldn't be a problem.  And since mkt1font is written in PERL it should run
under windows (or be modifiable to run under it. Dr. Smiths documentation
says its only been tested under Unix) but I don't know if t1asm and t1disasm
are available for windows.

1)Has anyone on the list made the necessary changes to get  mkt1font to run
under windows?  Or has a similar program that runs under windows?  Or has
another solution?

2)Also regarding the ISO draft transliteration standard I'm wondering about
the rational of having the three nasalization indicators (anusvara,
candrabindu and modern nasalization := tilde).

  Doctor Anthony P. Stone in his discussion of this standard at
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/stone_catend/trdis01.htm
in the section on "Treatment of Nasalization" says "In Hindi, nasalisation
of vowels is represented by candrabindu, but where a vowel matra has a
portion above the line, only the dot (anusvara) is written.  This is for
reasons of space. Hence there is a question as to the appropriate
transliteration of Devanagari candrabindu and anusvara.  In Hindi a
nasalised vowel is indicated by candrabindu unless the wovel extends above
the tope line, when a dot alone is used.  In this situation the two signs
are allographs."

The Indian Standard "Indian Script Code for Information Interchange - ISCII
UDC 681.3" in section 4 Nature of the Indian Alphabet says under 4.3
Nasalization Sign: Chandrabindu "The chandrabindu denotes nasalization of
the preceding vowel (can be implicit "a" vowel within a consonent).  In
Devanagari script it often gets substituted with Anuswar, as the latter is
more convenient for writing.  In some words, however, Anuswar and
Chandrabindu can give different meanings.  Hindi example ha&sa (laugh),
haMsa (Swan)." [& represents chandrabindu and M represents anusvara]

Would it be completely unambiguous to use chandrabindu for transliterated
vowel nasalization and anusvara for consonent nasalization and thus
eliminating the need for the third nasalization symbol the tilde? Isn't the
ISCII document indicating that the real symbol for vowel nasalization is
chandrabindu and that when anusvara is used for this it is a mere
convenience.  Also how long has the tilde been in use as a nasalization
symbol?

3) I've come across an explicit transliteration standard for mute "a" in
Hindi words.  In "Kabir Legends and Ananta-Das's Kabir Parachai, SUNY press
by David N. Lorenzen" in his notes on transliteration he has. "In the case
of Hindi words, a mute a at the end of a word or before a hyphen is usually
dropped.  A final a is usually kept when it is preceded by two consonents
(including nasals and semivowels)."

Can someone tell me what the reason is for keeping final "a" after two
consonents?

Many thanks,

Harry Spier
371 Brickman Rd.
Hurleyville, New York
USA 12747



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