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Re: Tamil computing - what it is all about

----FORWARDED ----

Date:  Sat, 13 Sep 1997 09:15:23 -0800
From:  George Hart <ghart@socrates.berkeley.edu>
Reply-To:  George Hart <ghart@socrates.berkeley.edu>,
To:  "Dr.K. Kalyanasundaram" <kalyan@igcsun3.epfl.ch>,
References:    1

A sad commentary on the state of Tamil -- the speakers of the language
so little regard for their heritage that major works are not available.
The people who trumpet their love for Tamil will not give a pice to
purchase Tamil classics or support their publication.  Books which were
readily available 20 or 30 years ago are now totally unavailable.  I can
only repeat Mylai Cini Venkatasami's remark about the Tamil who dumped
thousands of Tamil manuscripts into the canal on Sarasvati Puja day:
kazutaikku teriyumaa karpuuravaacanai?  I'll say one thing: this devout
book-burner certainly had a sense of irony.

In any event, I do not understand Kalyan's insistence that works be
published with their original "glyphs."  Why in the world would we want
do that?  The original Tolkappiyam was probably written in a variant of
Brahmi -- only a handful of people could even decypher it!  The fact is,
do NOT need the old-style script or the numerals.  This is for a very
reason: as I have stated many times, a standard should be invariant. 
should not have 2 choices about how to encode the same text.  There is
absolutely no need for the old-style letters -- the new ones produce
exactly the same combination of signs.  I should note that if someone is
uncomfortable with the new writing system, there is nothing to prevent
or her from designing a font that has the old one and converting from
new to the old with a simple Word macro.

George Hart

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