ABF in Action : Updates

Inaugural Notice to Members
DATE: 22 June 2000

ActiveBengali Forum : Current Members

Encoding Methodology
Malik, Abdul  AbdulMalik@btinternet.com

Language History
Biswas, Sujoy  rt_kundli@rtpack.com
Cronk, Susan  rains4r2r4@yahoo.com
Mitra, Amalendu  amitra@ford.com
Rashid, Harun  harun10@hotmail.com
Rouf, Mohammad  please supply new address

Lexical Analysis & Grammar
DasGupta, Shubhrangshu  chandan@prl.ernet.in

Publicity & Relations
Dutta, Sonali  somsonali@yahoo.com

Research & Development
Chakraborty, Beethin  beethin@hotmail.com

System Analysis & Design
Dasgupta, Debobroto  debobro@hotmail.com

Other Members - Unclassified
Rudra, Neel  neel_rudra@yahoo.com

As At June 22, 2000

Dear Forum Members,

It is with a great pleasure that I write to you all. I must apologize to those members who joined a while earlier for not getting back to you long time ago. To be honest, it has been a hard slog to get sufficient members, considering the length and breadth of the subject matter we wish to cover.

You’ll notice that we still have not got anybody willing or able to liaise with standards organization like Indian/Bangladesh Standards Institutes or Unicode Consortium. Same with browser manufacturers (like Microsoft, Netscape or AOL). Considering that 34% of MS workforce is Indian (this figure doesn’t even include Bangladeshis), and it is natural to assume that there would be some Bengali souls among them, it’s surprising, and genuinely sad, that nobody came forward. In a manner of speaking, that spells disaster! For Bengali and Bengalees alike! Apathy, it seems though, abounds! We remain in hope that some people would volunteer in due course.

Meanwhile, I thought, we shouldn’t waste any more time to get started. To keep our focus sharply on the subject we must always keep our minds on the main purpose of this forum.


To modernize Bengali alphabet, spelling, typography and fontography so that a meaningful and sufficiently workable encoding standard can be developed for computerization considering:
  • the language history
  • grammatical usage
  • spelling
  • composite letters
  • ease of use and
  • space limitations on the Unicode and national encoding real estate.

I try to summarise in the following bullet points:
  • Can we get by with 128 characters as allocated in ISCII (Indian Standard Code for Information Interchange) and Unicode. Please note that the latter just incorporated ISCII in their encoding scheme? What are the options available to us?
    • Live with 128 character restriction – and if so how? Do we agree with what ISCII has as encoding scheme? If not why not?
    • Must we work to enlarge and enhance ISCII, if so how?
    • Remodel ISCII altogether
    • Devise new encoding and ask and persuade ISCII and Unicode standards to follow the new encoding
    • Get browser manufacturers to support what we come up with
  • Simplify Bengali typography
    • Reduce/eliminate composite letters from the alphabet
    • Reduce the number of letters in the alphabet – do we want or need all the letters we seem to have?
    • Simplify spelling without losing the rich grammatical heritage
    • Standardize spelling
    • Change glyphs where necessary
  • Do we rationalize or eliminate, if so how, the use of glyph variations of
    • Vowels and their vocalic versions (aa-kar, e-kar etc.)
    • Diacritics or fala symbols – do we want or need them?
    • Positional shape of the glyphs (or eliminate positional variations)
    • Arrange letters in logical or alphanumeric sequence
  • Do we use upper and lower case convention for variation of glyph forms
    • Which key to do which letter?
    • Alternative keyboard mapping for Bengali
    • Designing of keyboard driver software
    • Minimize variations from the Latin keyboard mapping using phonetic equivalent Latin keys
  • What standard punctuations and special symbols do we need
    • Currencies
    • Coma, semicolon, colon, dari, doubledari, single and double quote marks etc.
    • Archaic letters – not commonly used
    • Other symbols
  • What locale Id. must be assigned to Bengali given two countries are involved? We can always go for Bengali as a distinct locale and have both currency symbols

There are numerous other concerns that I haven’t listed or am not aware of. Please bring forth those concerns of yours. We are looking to all of you to please work in each of these areas, as you can. Learn and teach the other Forum members and community at large by putting your thoughts on paper so we can all share them. Members who have special knowledge in their field of specialization are encouraged to write monographs (thoughtful research papers) to highlight the issues involved and how to address them as they see. Lexical history and grammar cannot and should not be ignored. By the same token the historical parentage of Sanskrit need not restrict or constrain our thoughts totally. This is the only way that we will be able to come to grips with the problems raised.

These papers will be published in the Active Bengali Forum for wider publicity. Don’t be shy. Your articles will attract the publicity that we need to put Bengali on track. You may write in Bengali or English as you wish. (If in Bengali, please use our Joydurga font because that’s all we can support now. Download now if you haven’t already! Go to BanglaWriter to type Bengali or eBaarta to send Bengali email to me and others.)

Governments of both countries have failed to take leadership in this matter. Standards organizations are enjoying deep sleep therapy! You’re the only ones awake. It is your duty to arouse the rest! Don’t you think?

I would appreciate it very much to hear from each one of you. Please act urgently. We’ve really fallen behind! we don’t and can’t afford to lose more time.

You may wish to read some of my thoughts, very crude though, in GhareyBairey (you need Joydurga font installed on your computer). More importantly, please visit


to see how poorly Bengali has been served.

Thank you and keep well.

Warm regards,
Nikhil Das
Email: via feedback page of this site.