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The Rigveda

in the Unicode character set

Jonathan Slocum

This page discusses our Unicode® representations of characters. If characters in the Rigveda text are not being displayed properly, trouble manifests itself in various guises, depending on your operating system and browser and, especially, the font selected by your browser to display the text. While we cannot predict all possible manifestations of trouble, most often it seems that what should be special characters and/or diacritics will appear as empty rectangular boxes or unrecognizable "blobs" on-screen; in the worst case, characters may simply vanish without trace and you may have little or no clue to their absence (e.g., superscripted diacritics in versions of Mozilla Firefox). The only simple explanation we can offer is that your system software is inadequate to display the Rigveda text, and you must upgrade or change your software. For the details, read on.

Owing to the requirements of the extended Latin alphabet and other characters, we have adopted Unicode® to represent script other than simple Roman letters (specifically, other than US-ASCII), and for such script our HTML style sheet recommends that browsers use one or another of the following Unicode-compliant fonts (listed here in alphabetical order):

  • Alphabetum Unicode (6.5 or above);
  • Arial Unicode MS (Windows only?);
  • Code2000;
  • Everson Mono Unicode;
  • Gentium;
  • Lucida Grande (Macintosh only); or
  • TITUS Cyberbit Basic.

What this means is that in order to read Rigveda text, written in Unicode, you must employ Unicode-compliant software and it must have available a Unicode-compliant font -- such as one of those listed above -- with the requisite character glyphs, and your software must be able to display them all. (These requirements are generally met, on Macintosh, only by OS X 10.2 or later with a suitably advanced browser.) As we become aware of the existence and wide distribution of other large Unicode-compliant fonts having [typically] thousands of glyphs covering the languages we transcribe, we will add them to our style sheet. If your existing software (e.g. browser) cannot properly display Unicode characters, you must use software that does. If your browser is configured to ignore style sheet recommendations, you're on your own.

Anyone wishing to read online texts in their native scripts, or at least in a standard Latin-based script with compound or less-common diacritics, should acquire software fully supporting the Unicode standard; some resources are free, while others may require payment. The Linguistics Research Center and the University of Texas cannot, and do not, make vendor recommendations.

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