Malayalam MAL/MLR [was: Languages tags (Buruchaski & North Slavey)]

John Hudson john at
Tue May 24 22:40:16 CEST 2016

On 24/05/16 13:13, Peter Constable wrote:

> One ISO 639 ID to multiple OT is certainly conceivable, and there are some OT tags going back a long while that fall in this category:
> MAL, "Malayalam"
> MLR, "Malayalam Reformed"
> I'm pretty sure this was created with the intent of distinguishing "traditional" versus "reformed" Malayalam typography (the former using far more conjuncts than the latter).

Ah, yes. As I recall, Paul Nelson registered these, and I never fully 
understood how they were expected to be used. There are several Indic 
scripts that have traditional and modern forms — often distinguishable 
by the quantity and type of conjuncts used —, and in practice I've found 
it better to make the distinction at the font level rather than the 
language system level, i.e. to make separate fonts rather than relying 
on an uncertain mechanism to map from a default to an alternative layout 


PS. Of course, a third option is to shape particular conjunct 
conventions using control characters. Maybe the less said about that, 
the better.


John Hudson
Tiro Typeworks Ltd
Salish Sea, BC        tiro at

Getting Spiekermann to not like Helvetica is like training
a cat to stay out of water. But I'm impressed that people
know who to ask when they want to ask someone to not like
Helvetica. That's progress. -- David Berlow

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