[XeTeX] Combining consonant with elongated r vowel (ऋ) in Devanagari using Mac

Jonathan Kew jfkthame at googlemail.com
Sun Sep 13 21:45:58 CEST 2009

On 13 Sep 2009, at 16:07, Ravi Parimi wrote:

> I was indeed looking to type तॄ using qwerty keys but didn't know  
> how
> to. I find that the qwerty keyboard provided by mac is limited in many
> ways (e.g unable to type conjunct consonants, all combinations of
> consonants+vowels not available etc.).

It's true that not all the Devanagari characters are provided on the  
Devanagari-QWERTY keyboard. (Nor on the plain Devanagari layout,  
apparently.) I assume these are designed for "normal" modern Hindi  
use, and omit various rare or archaic characters. If you need one of  
the "missing" characters frequently, it would be worth creating a  
customized key layout using Ukelele (or another tool) to make it more  
convenient to type.

However, "unable to type conjunct consonants" sounds like it may be  
based on a misunderstanding. You should not expect to see individual  
keys for all the various possible conjunct forms. You won't find them  
in a Unicode character chart, either. A conjunct is formed  
automatically by the font, given a text sequence of <consonant,  
halant, consonant> (or potentially longer, of course, for more complex  
forms). So to type त्र, for example, there is no त्र key;  
you type <t, f, r> on the Devanagari-QWERTY layout (TA, HALANT, RA),  
and the form त्र is automatically created.

The exact set of conjuncts that are available will depend on the font.  
If the font does not provide a conjunct form for a particular  
sequence, you'll see a halant form instead; the meaning is the same,  
of course, though it may not be the preferred appearance. With the  
Devanagari MT font on OS X, you can enable an "Additional Conjuncts"  
feature (this came up recently on the mailing list) to cause more  
clusters to display with special conjunct glyphs; but this is still a  
function of the font, and not something that involves different  
keystrokes or encoded characters.

(Don't be misled by the presence of a few conjuncts such as क्ष,  
श्र and ज्ञ on the Devanagari-QWERTY layout. These  
keystrokes are presumably provided because users are accustomed --  
from old typewriter habits -- to finding them as distinct keystrokes,  
but they are in fact inserting sequences of characters: when you press  
the key for क्ष, the three characters क <halant> ष are  
actually generated. You can equally well type the sequence yourself --  
the keystrokes <k, f, x> -- and get exactly the same result.)

> I'd like to use xelatex for
> creating my document, but am stifled by the set of characters that are
> present in Mac. Do you have any other suggestions?

If you give specific examples of the characters (or combinations) you  
are looking for, perhaps someone will be able to either suggest  
alternative fonts (it may be that some of the available OpenType fonts  
implement a richer collection of conjunct forms, for example), or  
point out how you should be representing them in your text.

The basic issue is not what is "present in Mac", but what characters  
are available in Unicode -- and unless your needs are remarkably  
unusual, I'd expect Unicode to include everything you need, it may  
just be a question of understanding how to use the available characters.


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