Dochula Pass, Bhutan

>> Read it !

Picture of the page in action.

I finally got to the point, after many long early morning hours, where I felt I could remove the ‘Draft’ from the heading of my Myanmar (Burmese) script notes.

This page is the result of my explorations into how the Myanmar script is used for the Burmese language in the context of the Unicode Myanmar block. It takes into account the significant changes introduced in Unicode version 5.1 in April of this year.

Btw, if you have JavaScript running you can get a list of characters in the examples by mousing over them. If you don’t have JS, you can link to the same information.

There’s also a PDF version, if you don’t want to install the (free) fonts pointed to for the examples.

Here is a summary of the script:

Myanmar is a tonal language and is syllable-based. The script is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden using vowel signs.

Spaces are used to separate phrases, rather than words. Words can be separated with ZWSP to allow for easy wrapping of text.

Words are composed of syllables. These start with an consonant or initial vowel. An initial consonant may be followed by a medial consonant, which adds the sound j or w. After the vowel, a syllable may end with a nasalisation of the vowel or an unreleased glottal stop, though these final sounds can be represented by various different consonant symbols.

At the end of a syllable a final consonant usually has an ‘asat’ sign above it, to show that there is no inherent vowel.

In multisyllabic words derived from an Indian language such as Pali, where two consonants occur internally with no intervening vowel, the consonants tend to be stacked vertically, and the asat sign is not used.

Text runs from left to right.

There are a set of Myanmar numerals, which are used just like Latin digits.

So, what next. I’m quite keen to get to Mongolian. That looks really complicated. But I’ve been telling myself for a while that I ought to look at Malayalam or Tamil, so I think I’ll try Malayalam.

>> Use it !

Picture of the page in action.

I have just upgraded the Burmese picker as follows:

Rearranged characters The Myanmar3 font expects multiple combining characters to be entered in the order described in the Unicode 5.1 Standard for correct display. The panel of combining characters has been arranged so that you can easily remember what that order was. Characters to the left precede those to the right, characters higher up precede those lower down.

In addition to that, I have rearranged all the character positions so that it is easier to locate the various parts of a syllable as you type.

I also added some combinations of characters that make up multi-part vowels and the kinzi with a single click.

I have also moved some of the less common characters to an ‘advanced’ area to the right which can be opened and closed by clicking on the arrow-head icon.

New highlighting As you mouse over a character the picker will show you other characters that are visually similar (particularly useful for those not very familiar with the script). This new version shows the more likely confusable characters with a blue outline, and other similar characters with orange. This is useful given that many Myanmar characters look quite similar.

As always, you can turn off this feature or disable it in the URI you use to call the picker.

Font grid view Shows characters in Unicode order, using whatever font is specified in the Font list or Custom font input fields. This allows comparison of fonts (especially useful in IE, which shows if a glyph is missing from a font).

You can start up directly in either of the available views by appending the following to your URI: ?view=, followed by one of, respectively, alphabet or fontgrid.

Enjoy.