-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Sinhala on the computer
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 11:46:16 +0600
From: Ruvan Weerasinghe
To: JC Ahangama
CC: Mr. Dulip Herath , Mr. Nishantha Medagoda , Viraj
Welgama , Asanka Wasala , Vincent Halahakone
, Premkumar , Dumith Eranga Jayatharachchi
, Anuradha Ratnaweera , Gihan Dias

References: <20060420021135.M5971@ucsc.cmb.ac.lk>
dear mr. ahangama,
thank you for your interest in our work - however 'doomed' you make it
out to be! back in sri lanka too we have no shortage of 'conspiracy
theories' surrounding almost every aspect of our lives. it makes me
wonder whether this (blaming everyone else for our woes) is at the heart
of our lack of progress as a nation...
anyway, to take your argument to its logical end, i suggest we also omit
all those accents of Latin-1 which is so alien to our people and just
stick to the main characters displayed on the 'standard keyboard' (i'm
sorry that most of those arriving in sri lanka are also american). just
to illustrate, you could send your rendering of 'ambalame pinaa pinaa'
to 10 sri lankan sinhala people and see how many object to the middle
two lines! by sticking to non-accented latin-1 characters we can not
only facilitate typing a romanized sinhala on various other devices such
as mobile phones, but we would also achieve the (no doubt) unintended
effect of killing the sinhala script (i know, i know you can always map
them to sinhala glyphs and do more messy post-processing to ensure that
sinhala is not natively supported on computers).
i am happy to assure you however that we (meaning not just the UCSC, but
the ICT Agency, Lanka Linux user group - in case you didn't know there
are several other OS's out there which are in fact free in more senses
than one) have gone through dozens of such proposals (some, not so
crackpot as others) as 'honestly as possible', and made some considered
'choices' which may not be perfect (will the perfect sri lankan among us
please raise their hand?), but which are neither haphazard.
btw, if your only objection to unicode is that it is controlled by
american big business, i am certainly puzzled to see that you are quite
happy to subscribe to the ultimate american big business domination in
the form of windows (from 3.1 onwards!). if you don't want to pay these
people what you'd need to be doing is to embrace open source technology
(something we in sri lanka are trying to promote amidst difficulties)
which also incidentally supports the unicode standard. you can also do
this and avoid fueling the american economy (i assume you are working
for a sri lankan company in texas, earning valuable foreign exchange for
us - not US) by installing one of the completely free Linux OS's with
sinhala unicode (unfortunately) support completely free from
if you are instead promoting piracy of ms-windows as a way of 'getting
back at the americans', then there is still a free sinhala solution (for
which you don't need to pay unicode or microsoft) at www.fonts.lk.
so, the good news is that sinhala support is available (for free)
irrespective of the OS (free linux or pirated windows or indeed soon on
mobile OS's); but the bad news i'm afraid is that a transliteration
solution (in case you were not aware, sinhala has many dozens of schemes
similar to that proposed by you, all different) will have to be left to
be pursued by individuals interested in esoteric pursuits.
thanking you again for your interest in this work and the sinhala
2 of 3 3/13/2007 9:44 AM
language as a whole.
ruvan (for ltrl).
LTRL wrote:
> Greetings from Texas!
> It is so wonderful that the Colombo University is working on Sinhala
> for the computer. Judging by the things done (not your web site but
> elsewhere. Did not read yours yet) by the Unicode enthusiasts and the
> interest the government is showing on it, I think we are doomed just
> as Unicode wishes. They want us to be their slaves. Please believe it.
> (I understand the American business ways because I too am a
> businessman here and lived here for 23 years).
> Unicode is a conspiracy by the Unicode Consortium to sell software and
> Operating Systems to the Third World countries. (In the electronic
> age, it is like conquering militarily). Ten years back they made a
> compact with ISO (which too is a private organization based in Europe)
> to give up the character coding schemes to Unicode. ISO agreed when
> the characters of the Western European countries were all added to
> Latin-1 Supplement code block. Both these organizations have only
> economic interests at heart. They do not make secret of it. Just go
> and read
> http://www.unicode.org/standard/WhatIsUnicode.html
> and
> http://www.iso.org/iso/en/aboutiso/isostructure/ahag.html (watch the
> ads flashing).
> The Directors of Unicode are employees of American Corporations:
> http://pipin.tmd.ns.ac.yu/unicode/www.unicode.org/unicode/consortium/directors.html
> See the invitation for membership:
> http://www.unicode.org/consortium/why_join.html
> Here's what will happen if we go wholesale to Sinhala Unicode:
> For you to be able to use Sinhala fonts you should buy the next
> version of Windows ($200?). Macintosh charges $50/60 for their Sinhala
> Kit. It does not matter to them that the people are poor here. They
> can ask the government to underwrite the cost and give them a loan.
> They already have our kids toiling to perfect Unicode Sinhala. So, the
> profit is 100% for the American Companies for the work we do! We fix
> it for them to charge us to perpetuity.
> Why should we place Sinhala in some other code block while the Western
> Indo-European languages have their characters on Basic Latin and
> Latin-1? They overlap each other. Nobody complains. Is it because we
> do not want to use roman characters? Why not? We can type Sinhala
> using a romanized alphabet such as at:
> www.lanandwan.com/sinhala/hoodiya.htm
> It is alright except for the four sanyaka akuru for which we can make
> ligatures inside the fonts according to Unicode specifications. It can
> be typed on computers starting from Windows version 3.1 (1993).
> If we still want the script to show, we can simply make TrueType fonts
> that map the code points of roman letters to Sinhala letters, such as:
> a => අ
> A => අ
> b => බ්
> B => බ්
> c => ච්
> C => ච්
> No keyboard definitions, No OS upgrades, just the extension of the
> keyboard layout to US-International!
> The advantage of doing this is that if you send me an email using a
> Sinhala font sitting over the Latin code block and if I do not have
> Sinhala fonts or Asian Language support enabled, I'd be able to see
> your message that has gracefully fallen back to romanized Sinhala. I
> am making such a font. However, it is not a job for a sixty year old
> man. The University should at least give this suggestion an honest
> try, I beg you.
3 of 3 3/13/2007 9:44 AM
> Thank you.
> ජයවේවා!
> ජයන්ත අහංගම
> JC Ahangama
> PS:
> Try to read the following that I typed using US-International keyboard
> on a Windows 98 computer:
> Sinhala alphabet is very close to Old English and Icelandic:
> _Ambalame Pina_
> (/A Buddhist riddle-poem/)
> ambalamee pinaa pinaa
> vaøá kaðak genaa genaa
> eeka binðapi gonaa gonaa
> eekata mata hinaa hinaa
> _Namo Namo Matha_
> (/National Anthem of Sri Lanka/)
> zrii lákaa maaþaa
> apa zrii lákaa namoo namoo namoo namoo maaþaa
> sunðara siri barinii surænði aþi soobha maana lákaa
> ðhaanya ðhanaya neka mal palaþuru piri jaya bhuumiya lákaa
> apa hata sæpa siri seþa saðanaa jiivanayee maaþaa
> piliganumæna apa bhakþi puujaa namoo namoo maaþaa
> apa zrii lákaa namoo namoo namoo namoo maaþaa
> obavee apa viðyaa
> obamaya apa saþyaa
> obavee apa zakþii
> apa haða þula bhakþii
> oba apa aalookee
> apagee anupraanee
> oba apa jiivanavee
> apa mukþiya obavee
> nava jiivana ðeminee niþina apa pubuðu karan maaþaa
> jçaana viirya vadavamina rægena yanu mæna jaya bhuumi karaa
> eka mavakage ðaru kæla bævinaa
> yamu yamu vii nopamaa
> preema vadaa sæma bheeðha ðuræralaa
> namoo namoo maaþaa
> apa zrii lákaa namoo namoo namoo namoo maaþaa