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Virama (was: New and Improved Script....)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Thursday, March 16, 2000, 19:46
Sally Caves wrote:

> > virama (vowel killer)
> How does that work?
A standard feature of Indic scripts is that each consonant letter contains an inherent vowel, typically whatever the local representative of Middle Indic short /a/ is: Hindi /@/, Bengali /O/, and so on. If you write the "k" consonant letter by itself it means not /k/ but /ka/. If you write it with an "a:" diacritic it means /ka:/, with an "i" diacritic it means /ki/, and so on. These diacritics can appear above, below, before, or after the consonant letter, or even in two pieces before and after, depending on the vowel and the individual script. There are also stand-alone vowel letters, used for vowels that are not preceded by consonants. The virama is a diacritic which when attached to a consonant "kills" the vowel, so that the consonant letter "k" now represents simply /k/. Explicit viramas usually appear on a final consonant. In the case of a consonant cluster, all but the last letter of the cluster typically appear in a "half-consonant" form, graphically reduced by omitting the stem. This is equivalent to the use of a virama, and in ISCII (Indian character code) and Unicode, half-consonants are represented internally to the computer by using the regular consonant plus a virama code. -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)