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It is unfortunate to know that Malayalam Unicode still continues to be a mystery! Every now and then, I am consulted by various agencies/vendors on how to resolve rendering issues with Malayalam Unicode text.
I am fed up of sending explanatory mails to many. A ‘Post DTP ’task which should ideally take one hour is extended till 10 hours due to misunderstanding of Malayalam Unicode.
Please read the following. It will help vendors to reduce the time spend of resolving rendering issues related to Malayalam. It will help localizers and translators to avoid supplying non-compatible text to their agencies.
Old Malayalam Unicode fonts which we used were depending on joiners heavily. Major role of these joiners were to render chillaksharas properly. Unfortunately, joiners are considered to be ‘format control characters’ by majority of the applications.
At the time of processing (for example, cleaning of files from Wordfast or Trados), these joiners will be stripped by the application and chillakshara will not be chillakshara no longer.
Due to this situation, Malayalam community (mainly Cibu, Kevin and all) pushed for separate code points for chillakshara so that dependency on joiners can be removed. This was allowed by Unicode Consortium with their 5.1 standard release.
Based on this standard, many fonts were developed. Even Microsoft also released a new Kartika (Malayalam default Unicode font in Windows Operating systems) font as per 5.1 standards.
Without knowing these developments, vendors continue to ask translators and localizers to supply the content in ‘Arial Unicode MS’ (a font which was abandoned by Microsoft) which does not have Malayalam support.
Without knowing the existence of input tools and fonts which support latest Unicode standards, translators and localizers still continue to supply the content in old standard which depends on joiners heavily.
Solution is only this – Vendors, translators and localizers should upgrade themselves to use input tools and fonts which employ latest Unicode standards.
What I do – I use Mozhi transliteration input tool and AnjaliNewLipi Unicode font. The result is wonderful. No more complaints from vendors and my reviewers.
I highly recommend everybody in the industry to try the same and see the result.