ISSUE-407: Clarification of initial letter example

Clarification of initial letter example

Raised by:
Richard Ishida
Opened on:
5.1 First Letter

"Note how the vowel sign appears to the left of the first character, not the third. There are three grapheme clusters here. The first includes the SA+VIRAMA,THA+I and T+II. We see that the styling is done on the basis of the syllable, not the first character. A syllable includes a base consonant and any combination of the following characters in the text stream:"

This text is misleading when paired with figure 4 when it talks about 3 graphemes and there are 3 red circles. It also doesn't show first letter styling, as the text says, which is confusing. There is also an error in the romanization.

How about the following wording, based around the example at
I also suggest renaming the section to Initial Letter Styling, to match the CSS Inline spec
Indic script behavior in initial letter styling is based on syllables, rather than individual letter forms.

Figure 4 shows an example of a drop intial in Hindi. In the first word of the paragraph, स्कूल ('skūl'), the sequence of characters is stored in memory is as follows:


There are two syllables in this word: SA+VIRAMA+KA+UU and LA. Note, however, that there are three Unicode grapheme clusters here: SA+VIRAMA, KA+UU and LA.

Styling is done on the basis of the whole orthographic syllable, not the first character, nor even the first grapheme.

A syllable includes a base consonant and any combination of the following characters in the text stream:
- sequences of consonants preceded by virama (i.e. conjuncts).
- vowel signs
- visarga, anusvara or candrabindu.

NOTE: The detailed definition of Indic syllables is given in section 2.

Here are some further examples of initial letter styling based on the Indic syllable definition.


An alternative would be to take the above text and put it at the bottom of section 3 Text Segmentation, as an illustration of the point made in the last paragraph ("text segmentation should be done as Indic syllable"). This is useful because it clearly distinguishes between grapheme cluster and syllabic units, and could be referred to from other sections, too, such as the section on vertical text.

And then simply say, at the start of section 5.1 that selection of initial letters uses the orthographic syllable as the unit, as illustrated in section 2, and then simply give some examples. The majority of section 5.1 could then focus on more specific requirements, such as what styles of highlighting are common, and what the alignment points, etc, are.
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  1. Weekly github digest (I18n repos) (from on 2017-04-25)
  2. Daily github digest (I18n repos) (from on 2017-04-25)
  3. Daily github digest (w3c/ilreq) (from on 2017-04-25)
  4. [minutes] Internationalization telecon 2015-01-22 (from on 2015-01-22)
  5. I18N-ISSUE-407: Clarification of initial letter example [ilreq] (from on 2015-01-16)

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Addison Phillips <>, Chair, Richard Ishida <>, Fuqiao Xue <>, Atsushi Shimono <>, Staff Contacts
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