bugFree UCS Outline Fonts - Bugs: bug #52393, Malayalam low-slung post-base -ya


bug #52393: Malayalam low-slung post-base -ya

Submitted by:  Steve White <Stevan_White>
Submitted on:  Sat 11 Nov 2017 01:46:38 PM UTC  
Category:  individual character(s) Severity:  1 - Wish
Item Group:  character substitution issue Status:  Postponed
Privacy:  Public Assigned to:  Steve White <Stevan_White>
Open/Closed:  Open Release:  development

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Sun 12 Nov 2017 10:33:30 AM UTC, comment #2:

Here are some examples found on archive.org.

1930 Thiruvithamkoor_Charithram
-ya (4th letter) strongly underslung, wide loop.

1940 Mahakavi_Ulloor
-ya strongly underslung, wide loop.

1950 Aarogya vidya (a book on hygiene)
-ya (4th letter) is a loop with a stick below.
Note the type is widely spaced and not kerned at all --
the high vowel matras don't extend over their consonants).

1966 Mahabharatam Ezhuthachhan
-ya (middle of word) is underslung, but not as wide as in
other examples.

(file #42371, file #42372, file #42373, file #42374)

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Sun 12 Nov 2017 10:24:15 AM UTC, comment #1:

To investigate the progression of typography, there is an on-line resource: the Internet Archive <archive.org>. You can search it like this "Malayalam 1930", and get a list of materials from that year, some of them nice PDFs of printed books.

I was interested in what happened to the -ya, so I looked at a few dozen printed materials from the 1920s through the 1970s. Here is how it looks to me.

From early on, there are multiple styles and qualities of type, of course.

The type used in the better earlier works used a rather close-set, kerned (particularly, the i-matra goes over the preceding consonant) type. In this, the -ya usually has a loop that slings beneath the preceding consonant. There are different styles of this too. But the underslung -ya only makes typographic sense if the letters are closely spaced.

Titles of books and chapters is often in a wider-spaced face, not kerned, in which the -ya is a stick with a small curl below, as in the SMC fonts. Likewise, cheap pamphlets and children's books are often printed in wider-set type, and also use the stick-with-curl -ya.

In later publications, starting in the 1940s, I start seeing bigger materials printed in wider type, perhaps simplified a bit, without -ya. But up through the `60s the bigger, better typeset works are close-set and use the underslung -ya. The archive contains few bigger items from the '70s (partly because it only accepts material in the public domain), but by '75 everything I saw was in the reformed orthography.

Now, some people have argued that the reformed orthography was motivated by the limited machine-typesetting technology of the '60s and '70s, more than by what is best for reading and writing. I don't know, but it is a thought -- similar things have happened. And there are currently font projects who aim to show how easy it is for people to do "better" (old-fashioned) typesetting with modern technologies.

Given that 1) FreeSerif is intended for high-density type, such as in newsprint 2) until 50 years ago, dense type usually used the underslung -ya, 3) the stick-and-loop -ya always looked visually out of place to me 4) it is now pretty easy to implement this letter, I think it is something to consider in a future release.

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.
Sat 11 Nov 2017 01:46:38 PM UTC, original submission:

Today I'm deleting the tables for a version of the post-base ya which curls under a proceding consonant, unless the consonant already has some descender or other attachment. There were two lookup tables that ensure that it is formed in appropriate circumstances.

I never liked the ya with the curl below the stick -- it causes horizontal spacing issues, besides looking somehow clunky -- like it was really meant to be something else. Indeed, earlier it curled beneath the proceding consonant, almost to connect with the vertical stem on the right.

I have seen this style in Gundert's Grammar, but I am told by a native speaker that the form is not attractive to the modern eye.

So out it goes, for now.

Steve White <Stevan_White>
Project AdministratorIn charge of this item.


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    Follow 4 latest changes.

    Date Changed by Updated Field Previous Value => Replaced by
    2017-11-12 Stevan_White Attached File- => Added 1930_Thiruvithamkoor_Charithram.png, #42371
        Attached File- => Added 1950_Aarogya_vidya.png, #42372
        Attached File- => Added 1940-Mahakavi_Ulloor.png, #42373
        Attached File- => Added 1966-Mahabharatam_Ezhuthachhan.png, #42374

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