Arun’s (mostly carnatic) World

February 25, 2008

Sa in Tamil – Grantha Sa character support

Both the Carnatic Music Notation Typesetter and the Carnatic Music Transliterator now provide a way to make Tamil text use the grantha Sa character i.e. Grantha Sa. This character, while not as widely accepted in Tamil, is nevertheless common in Tamil books (e.g. music books, religious books) that need to represent non-Tamil sources. It is a fairer representation of the Sa phoneme (as in Siva, Sakti) compared to suffixed Sa/Sa - no qualifiers, since the Sa - no qualifiers really represents the sa sound (as in samam).

Both applications now do support this character. However for reasons explained below, it is not enabled by default.

System support for Grantha Sa character – not ubiquitous
The Grantha Sa character was added to Unicode fairly recently(in 2006) and hence it is supported only in a few systems at this time. So the control for requesting the use of this character is left to the end-user (see below). You should request it only if your system supports this character. The current known configurations in which this character are as follows:

  • On Microsoft Vista, there is support at the system level for this character. The Latha font that is part of the OS supports this font. The system support is by the Unicode rendering engine called Uniscribe, which is in the dll usp10.dll. The version of the dll that ships with Vista has this support
  • On Microsoft XP, if Office 2007 is installed then the Unicode rendering engine that is part of the Office 2007 at this time. However, the rendering engine that is in use for the rest of the system is an older version and does not support it. To make e.g. the FireFox or the Opera browser to use the Office 2007’s rendering engine, find the usp10.dll under the Office 2007 installation directory tree, and copy the it into into the FireFox, Opera installation directory.
    • You would still need a Unicode font that supports the character. One such font is Code2000, which is a shareware font available for download at

Enabling support for Grantha Sa

  • Carnatic Music Notation Typesetter: Support can be enabled by specifying the new granthasa attribute in the Language directive. You can specify this by checking the Use Grantha Sa checkbox in the Assist dialog for the Language directive.
  • Carnatic Music Transliterator: Under the Tamil tab, there is now a checkbox for enabling use of Grantha sa

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