A decision taken by Unicode Consortium to include two Tamil letters in Telugu script has sparked a row, with Telugu lovers taking to Twitter to oppose the move. They said the two similar-sounding letters already exist in Telugu and there is absolutely no need to import them from Tamil.

Interestingly, a few Tamil tweeple too lent their voice in support of their Telugu peers and objected to the new additions.

Unicode, a global consortium that develops fonts for all languages and scripts that can be easily used across all digital platforms, has decided to add two Tamil consonants — LLLA ழḻ and RRA றṟ — to the Telugu Unicode stable in a decision it took on May 2.

“As a liturgical language, Tamil texts are frequently expressed in scripts other than Tamil for reading and recitation by non-Tamil speakers. This served as an impetus to evolve unique orthographies that attempted to preserve the phonological aspects of the Tamil script/language in other scripts,” Unicode said after its May 2 meeting, where it announced some other additions as well.

“This document presents a hybrid Telugu orthography that is used for representing Tamil religious texts and proposes the encoding of two additional consonants to the Telugu block,’’ it said.

The Unicode Consortium said the addition would help appropriately preserve the original Tamil phonetic realisation of the source text without any loss (of sound).


Consult stakeholders

This decision has made Telugu lovers angry. Pavan Santosh, who promotes Telugu content on the web, asked Unicode to explain the procedure it followed in arriving at this decision.

“Have you consulted any Telugu, Dravidian linguists before making this decision? There are already letters equivalent to these Tamil letters in Telugu Unicode and this is uncalled for,” he pointed out.

Telugu Kutami, an organisation of Telugu lovers, has strongly condemned the decision. “How can one add letters to a language without consulting the stakeholders? It is highly condemnable,” it said in a statement.