Proposal to add small Kana characters to Unicode

  1. 11 months ago

    Zachary

    Nov 2016 Administrator

    Proposal to add Kana small letters
    Author: Ryusei Yamaguchi <mandel59@gmail.com>

    Extract:

    Introduction

    Small letters of Kana (a general term for Hiragana and Katakana scripts) are often used to extend the syllabic system to denote exotic or corrupted sounds, such as gemination, diphthong, contraction, and closed syllables. Although Unicode already has 12 Hiragana small letters and 28 Katakana small letters, the following small letters not collected yet remain:

    • The Hiragana counterparts of the 16 Katakana phonetic extensions
    • Historic letters for labialization
    • A letter for nasalization
    • Letters for palatalized consonants

    PDF: http://www.unicode.org/L2/L2016/16354-kana-small-ltr.pdf
    Google Docs: https://goo.gl/r41w2S

  2. 9 months ago

    Zachary

    Dec 2016 Administrator

    It appears that the following seven small kana were accepted in UTC-149:

    HIRAGANA LETTER SMALL WI
    HIRAGANA LETTER SMALL WE
    HIRAGANA LETTER SMALL WO
    KATAKANA LETTER SMALL WI
    KATAKANA LETTER SMALL WE
    KATAKANA LETTER SMALL WO
    KATAKANA LETTER SMALL N

    Essentially, the small forms of the following characters will eventually become available: ゐゑをヰヱヲン. Strangely, small ん was not accepted, further reinforcing the gap between the katakana and hiragana writing systems.

    All things considered, I think this is a good step forward, but at the same time, it's hugely disappointing that no further consideration was given to the other characters proposed and that zero consideration was ever given to the Ryukyuan languages. Several of the characters in the L2/16-354 proposal (linked in my first post) would have been beneficial to transcribe the Amami and Miyako languages and their dialects, especially small む to mark an /m/ sound and small す to mark an /s/ sound (personally, I would have also added small ず and maybe small ふ to cover additional characters that are often used in transcriptions of Miyako, but that's an aside).

    The extremely slow adoption of small kana reminds me of Unicode's decision to incompletely implement Latin superscript and subscript symbols (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicode_subscripts_and_superscripts#Latin_and_Greek_tables ). Maybe, just maybe one day we'll get them all.

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