Mangal mangle?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/10/18 04:07 -04:00, original URI:

The question from Adolf went something like this (in the middle of an unrelated question):

Another request, please: I wrote you all about two years ago concerning using a different system font when typing the north Indian languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit etc. The current WinXP and Vista font is called Mangal; it is ugly; those of us in South Asian studies avoid it because it is very confusing for our beginning students. The fonts in their textbooks (standard Devanagari fonts approved by the Indian government) are different enough from Mangal to cause them problems.

There is already a beautiful “standard” Devanagari font as part of Arial Unicode MS already built into WinXP and Vista. Could you substitute those Devanagari characters instead? Please do anything to get rid of Mangal before Vista goes RTM. Those of us in South Asian studies will thank you for that change.

P.S. I posted the question of how to change this system font to the MS Office forum and received the following answer:

       The default font for each complex script is built-into the uniscribe rendering engine (usp10.dll file). There is no way user can edit it. 

I had some vague recollections about the issue but Simon gave the genuine answer:

Mangal has to pull double duty as our only Hindi UI font and document font. Therefore its design is somewhat compromised for UI use where it has to work as small as 8pt, and removing it from the product is not an option.

Ok, so I took some Hindi text from my site, a translation a friend did of the following text:

Perhaps most difficult is that you cannot leverage any of your existing knowledge of forms and
reports in the above list of things to do; heck, you can't even leverage all of the existing forms
and reports you have already!

And I tried it out at 18pt and 8pt with Mangal, Arial Unicode MS, and three document fonts that ship with Office (Aparajita, Kokila, and Utsaah):


 Now all things considered, I think Adolf's point about the style of Mangal leaving something to be desired is a valid one, even to my untrained eye (though they all look pretty bad at 8pt, including Mangal!).

As Simon mentioned, changing Mangal is probably out of the question. And I can only imagine the complexities involved with creating a UI font as opposed to a document font for a script like Devanagari.

One unfortunate thing I noticed was that even though Office ships these three document fonts plus Arial Unicode MS, and even though Office has its own layer that runs on top of Uniscribe to modify its behavior, that the default Devanagari script font used in Word and the rest of Office is still Mangal. I  would have been happier if they were overriding the choice in this case (especially since they ship the fonts!), though of course there are risks with such a strategy since not having the font would lead to such a huge difference -- notice how the same size ends up so different between the fonts.

I'll be digging into UI vs. document font issues a bit more in future posts; it is a fascinating area, especially considering the interesting aspects of language that come up....


This post brought to you by (U+0908, a.k.a. DEVANAGARI LETTER II)

Chak on 26 Sep 2008 7:15 PM:

Why am I unable to convert Arial Unicode MS (hindi characters) into Mangal? I am able to do it the other way around: Mangal to Arial Unicode MS..

Michael S. Kaplan on 26 Sep 2008 8:00 PM:

Hey Chak --

Context? Are you in Notepad, in Wordpad, in Word, somewhere else entirely? And what text are we talking about?

purushothaman on 27 Jan 2010 10:50 PM:

i need the mangal software immediately.

Michael S. Kaplan on 29 Jan 2010 10:43 AM:

You have to have Windows 2000 or later, and you get it.

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referenced by

2008/05/18 The song[ and the answer] remains the same

2008/01/15 If complex script fonts are going to exist in Windows, then one thing they cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion

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