--- suzmccarth <suzmccarth@...
> wrote: > --- In
, Andrew Dunbar
> <hippietrail@...> wrote:
> > > 3. Then I have to explain what "complex" means.
> > > I must make this meaningful... so I could say
> > > that (besides the bidi scripts, we understand
> > > those) there are writing systems that are
> > > linear but not sequenced by sound production.
I agree with the other poster that this is just an
engineering term and there should be no need to
explain it to the kids. All you need talk about is
"type the letters" or "type the sounds". The latter in
the case of current Tamil input.
> > > These systems are normally arranged into
> > > syllable blocks when they are taught to
> > > children on paper but on the computer they are
> > > not composed in syllable blocks.
> > I'm not sure about "normally". If you say it's
> > the case with Tamil I believe you, but Tamil is
> > quite a bit different to its related writing
> > systems and I don't know if they have a pedagogic
> > syllabic model.
> They do, I have seen it in the children's hands, on
> my bulletin board, seen it in books and on the
> interent and read about it but I have never been in
> a Tamil elementary school classroom so I have to be
Perhaps you've misunderstood me. I wasn't questioning
this case with Tamil but your words "these systems
normally" which makes it sound like you are saying
this is also the case with Devanagari, Bengali,
Punjabi, Malayalam, Sinhala, etc.
If it is "normal" across all "these systems" then we
need a general solution and shouldn't focus purely on
If these other languages and their writing systems are
not taught in this way, then a solution aimed purely
at Tamil is what we seek.
> > I understand what you are saying. But it seems you
> > don't know how such a system would work yourself.
> Okay, I have tried 5 Tamil keyboards. The
> Tamilword98 keyboards, 3 different layouts, were
> truetype, I think, nothing changes shape or order.
> The one that was mapped closely to the sounds of the
> English alphabet was the easiest because we didn't
> have a keyboard map.
You are confusing your technologies again. Truetype
relates only to fonts and therefore to output.
Keyboards relate purely to input. There is no such
thing as a Truetype input or keyboard. If we want to
design the perfect Tamil input system we do not need
to concern ourselves with Truetype.
It is probably the case that some of these Tamil
keyboards are designed specifically to work with a
specific non-Unicode font. To create the perfect Tamil
input system we need to break such dependencies.
If a system is found which is tied to one such font,
we need to duplicate this system and to make it work
The reason keyboards and fonts have been tied in the
past (and caused the confusion in which you seem to be
stuck) is that people have tried to encode Tamil
visually. While this may well make good sense at the
keyboard it makes terrible sense for the text.
> Then, because we wanted to do internet searches I
> bought a windows XP laptop. I had to be compatible
> with my PC classroom for reports, website, etc. I
> installed the Tamil language support and keyboard.
> I could use it with the student and we did some
> simple searches. However, he could not use it
> himself. Since then I have tried the
> transliteration unicode system that I saw in an
> email site.
I do not understand what you mean by "transliteration
Unicode system". Unicode has nothing to do with
transliteration. Perhaps you have some input system
which takes tamil transliterated into English letters.
Since the rest of us are not familiar with this system
it's probably better if you name it or describe it so
we can know what you are talking about.
> It seemed to be fairly easy.
> So in order of ease for a somewhat bilingual child -
> the romanized truetype keyboard, then the
> transliteration split-screen system, then the
I don't think you've mentioned a split-screen system
before either. Can you explain this one?
> The Chinese students use several of the Chinese
> IME's and work on the laptop everyday. Or in
> njstar98. A couple of students have come very
> recently from Central China and they love to
> write their story in Chinese then get a classmate
> to translate it then I post the stories in both
> languages and they read each others stories or email
> or google funny and interesting sites, comics,
> anime, neopets, etc.
I'm thinking that the reason it's easy for the Chinese
and Korean kids is because in their countries there
have been standard working computer input systems for
some years. They are already widespread and
This is not the case with Tamil where the problems are
still being tackled right now. So the Chinese and
Korean kids are used to similar systems at home. The
Tamil kids have never before typed Tamil. Is this in
> > It seems you are trying to convince us of the
> > need - which is probably true - but if you want a
> > better input system, just come up with one then
> > present it.
> > Uniscribe has nothing at all to do with input -
> > for input you need either a keyboard layout, or
> > an input method.
> So, I think that the keyboard layout is difficult,
> but also the rendering is a little tricky because
> kids don't like letters that change shape, but i
> guess they could learn.
You'll notice that for Arabic and Korean, the letters
also change shpape as you type yet these systems have
become standard in their native countries.
> Then the fact that the syllables can never be
> displayed or chosen as syllables, precomposed
> blocks, all that , I am not sure what is most
For Japanese, Korean, and many of the Chinese input
systems, the kids type in the syllables (or the words)
in English letters and the computer then chooses or
lets the user choose the appropriate character(s).
There's no reason I can see that this shouldn't work
for Tamil also. Except that I suspect the CJK kids
have done it before and the Tamil kids have not.
For Korean, choosing the sounds and choosing the
graphical parts of the characters amounts to the same
thing. For some of the Chinese systems, you basically
type the visual parts of the character. Now such a
system may not have yet been devised for Tamil but
it's certainly possible. And it certainly will work
with all the existing Unicode/Uniscribe/OpenType etc
> So I bought winXP, thinking that because the IME's
> in CKJ offered a good choice, the Tamil should be
> okay too.
> Is there a different Unicode Tamil keyboard?
Probably not. But don't blame Microsoft or the evil
ignorant western computer people for this. Chinese,
Japanese, and Koreans developed their own input
systems quite a few years ago and they are now
Due to Unicode not having existing in the past, and
computers not supporting it in the past, Tamils have
not had an environment in which to develop their own
systems yet. I'm sure Microsoft are doing the best
they can - but the field is much younger. I'm sure CJK
input was considered unusable by many in its infancy
> > > If there is no argument with this kind of
> > > vocabulay I will go with it. I must add that we
> > > have technology curriculum goals that start in
> > > grade 1. This is not a hypothetical discussion
> > > for me.
> > Worry less about the vocabulary
> since I dropped the 'alphabet', 'syllabary' words it
> is easier to communicate
> > but do learn the difference between input,
> > rendering, fonts, encodings, etc. Interact with
> > the kids and try to visualize an input system.
> i know the difference when I see it happen on the
> screen but it is hard to disentangle the effects at
> I think, somehow that coordination between visual
> image and order of sound production (and keyboard
> input) is fundamental in learning literacy. That
> is one of the ways a child learns to be literate.
> The image of the sound in the mind has to match the
> visual image somehow. If these are out-of-sequnce
> then the syllables are presented to a child
> precomposed in a chart.
Well it probably is possible to devise an input method
where the marks on the keys represent the visual parts
of the "syllables" or whatever as written, and when an
entire word (or syllable) is typed visually, the input
system then works out the logically encoded sequence
and passes that to the system. This is basically what
CJK input systems do. If the user types a graphical
sequence that is meaningless - say three vowels in a
row that should actually be dran to the left of a
consonant, the computer would beep or highlight the
error in red etc. I believe there are Thai input
systems which work this way though they are usually
Otherwise, it's likely that the number of syllable
shapes exceeds the number of keys on the keyboard. Or
do you invisage "precomposed syllable input" working
in some other way?
> Then the child goes through the process of becoming
> literate. In a tranliteration program English
> displays so that is okay - not so confusing and
> Tamil becomes a script that is recognized but
> not produced.
> > Don't think about the rendering system
> > for now. Then tell us about your proposed input
> > system.
> This is an interesting problem and originally I
> thought that I could
> just choose something that already exists somewhere.
> Maybe it still does.
Or maybe the Chinese and Korean kids were taught in
their old countries how to use the existing systems
and the Tamil kids just need to be taught how to use
their system now. Once the first lot really get a hold
of it they'll pass it on to the other kids and you
won't have to strain so hard to teach it to them.
> There are several sites in India and experiments - I
> know Multilingual System in Madras is not Unicode
> but what does their system look like? Who in the
> Tamil community has something they use with children
> that isinternet enabled? i don't know - I am just
> beginning the search.
> Thanks very much for asking.
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