Simon agreed that I’ll occasionally post reviews about Asia, India and devanagari, typography and some font & linguistic software related matters as well.
I’m a young man, born in Riga and spreading the Sanskrit message around the world. Working as a Sanskrit Reader in Russia, teaching at the Russian State University and writing a PhD about Sanskrit verbal roots. I’m planning to publish several Sanskrit manuals and reprints of old books in the near future. I’m an editor as well of the Sanskrit section of the Open Directory and http://nagari.southindia.ru. So you can download some dictionaries there, etc.
It is strange that 200 years after the first Nagari typefaces where cast in iron in India, we’ve got no fine Devanagari fonts at our disposal. Ok, we have quite a few Hindi fonts. But, hey, there are many differences. No Devanagari fonts at the moment supports the four variants of “la” or the northern (Varanasi) and southern (Mumbai) variant of the letter “a”. Ok, some may say that who cares about Nagari font, but you do know and notice the difference, if you’re a teacher – students get stuck seeing a letter they’ve never seen before and have no reference chart to look upon.
None of the True Type Unicode fonts have a precoded ligature for “sthva” (which means the “va” should be under the “sth” and not beside it) as it was in the good old times when Harvard Oriental Series was printed (even they have lost the type in the latest editions, e.g. the 50th edition was printed in transliteration only). All the letters in Windows fonts are written without even the slightest break, though it is well known that in the manuscripts and books printed before 1914 in Europe, Devanagari letters are separated buy 1-1.5 mm. Maybe it is not very good from the point of view of grammarians, but, sure, it looks much better. Devanagari font differences like these can be continued.
That’s it for today, next post will be in a while. Is there anybody who’s interested to hear about Unicode Devanagari font matters?