suzmccarth wrote:
> John. I appreciate your detailed answers but wish to delve deeper if
> I may. Tamil also has an array, a matrix of syllables, a syllabary,
> so they call it. Tamil also has fewer phonemes than other Indic
> languages, both Indic and Dravidian. It has fewer syllables than
> Korean.

Have you tried recent Indic input methods on, e.g., Windows XP?

They work this way:

1) The matras (vowel signs) are input in "logical order". E.g., to
spell "ki" you hit key "<KA>" followed by key "<MATRA I>", not the other way
round; the vowel sign "i" automatically display on the left side, of course,
but the cursor remains on the right side of the CV cluster.

2) Once a CV cluster is formed on the screen, it is treated as a
single unit by all subsequent edits or mouse selections. E.g., a single hit
to an arrow key would move over the entire "ki" cluster, and a single hit of
the <DELETE> key would erase the whole "ki" cluster. It is never possible to
place the cursor "between" a consonant and its matra.

3) CCV and CCCV clusters are treated as a single units too, as in
(2) above, if they form a visual ligature (including ligatures formed with
"half consonants" or "subscribed consonants"). But if the C's preceding the
CV core are represented visually by C+virama (as is always the case for
Tamil), they are treated as separate units.

By the point of view of a user who doesn't know or care about what happens
behind the scenes with Unicode (i.e., an end user or an applicative
programmer), all this accounts to a sort of "syllabic editing", functionally
very similar to a Chinese input method.

By the point of view of a user who DOES know and care about what happens
behind the scenes with Unicode (i.e., a system-level programmer),
implementing the restrictions to cursor movement which produce the above
behavior is much simpler and performing that having to deal with the
troubles that a real "syllabic" encoding would cause.

I don't see how having precomposed syllable characters in the underlying
(and invisible) Unicode layer could help in making the editing behavior
"more syllabic" that that described above. OTOH, it would increase
considerably the complexity of things like sorting and searching text, not
to mention the troubles it would cause to font designers.

_ Marco