UNU-CS Researcher Discusses the Urgency and Challenges of Unicode Migration in Myanmar

September 21, 2016

Han-Teng Liao – a researcher from the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) – discussed the urgency and challenges of Unicode migration in Myanmar this month, with experts and practitioners such as Dr. Myint Myint Than, the Director of Myanmar Computer Federation (MCF), Ms. Saijai Liangpunsakul, the organizer of the ICT4D Working Group Meeting, Professor Justin Watkins from SOAS, University of London, etc.

Han-Teng Liao visited Dr. Myint Myint Than in her office at MCF, where they exchanged ideas on the sense of urgency and ongoing challenges of Unicode migration in Myanmar. Both agreed that the rapid mobile and Internet usage growth in Myanmar meant the migration to Unicode from Zawgyi should occur sooner in order to minimize the cost of migration late.

Also, as part of the “Unicode vs Zawgyi Discussion” organized by the ICT4D Working Group Meeting at Phandeeyar: Myanmar Innovation Lab, Han-Teng Liao presented his latest research outcomes regarding the language and font-encoding usage in the national web of Myanmar. In addition to the discussions of the various technological and social issues with the current wide adoption of Zawgyi (instead of Unicode) in Myanmar, many presenters and attendees believed that the Unicode adoption would avoid the *treading-each-other-toes* situation where Burmese and other languages in Myanmar cannot be rendered correctly using Zawgyi font when following the Unicode standard.

The table below shows how Zawgyi font disrupted the correct text rendering of Myanmar Shan digits (ethnic language Shan numbers 0 to 9): while both Zawgyi font and Unicode font can render (Arabic) digits and Myanmar digits correctly, only Unicode font correctly renders Myanmar Shan language because Zawgyi font uses those code resources for other Burmese language symbols that are not consistent with the international Unicode standard.

Unicode vs. Zawgyi

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