Musa Alphabet in PUA

SIL Corporate PUA is all in the Fxxx range, but I thought I would mention here that the Musa Alphabet uses E000-E1FF, in case (someday?) SIL might use Musa.

Welcome to our community. Can you tell me more about the “Musa” alphabet? Is it something SIL should be aware of?

The PUA (Private Use Area) was designed by Unicode for people to include as a temporary holding ground until things get in Unicode. Thus, it’s fine for others to use the PUA in other ways than SIL has. In fact, we have used the U+F100…U+F8FF range for characters we believe have worldwide value. We suggested the U+E000…U+EFFF range for regional needs (SIL Corporate PUA Assignments).

Hi there! I’d been corresponding with Mike Cahill since a couple of years ago, in case we could offer you guys anything useful.

The Musa Alphabet is a new, universal, featural, phonetic (or allophonic) alphabet. You can read more about it at It’s encoded at E000-E1FF. I posted in case you wanted to warn regional offices to avoid those codepoints, in case SIL one day uses Musa.

Unfortunately, Musa is only a technical solution, and I know that your work is really about the social side of literacy. But if the right combination of circumstances arise - perhaps a language community that wants to avoid a dominant writing system - then Musa might represent another arrow in your quiver.

Thanks for asking.

Peter Cyrus
The Musa Academy

Thanks Peter. It looks like we are both using the PUA appropriately and there is no reason to warn anyone from using them. The PUA is precisely for private use. If/when something needs encoding in Unicode it will be assigned official codepoints.

Hello Peter,

Private Use codepoints are not really for long term use. If Musa is an accepted standard that can demonstrate usage, I would suggest you follow the process with the Unicode Consortium to register the alphabet.

Using PUA characters for a permanent solution is highly discouraged due to data portability problems.

Best regards,
Paul Nelson

For the foreseeable future, we’re not interested in being part of Unicode. The PUA is fine for us.

For the foreseeable future, we’re not interested in being part of Unicode. The PUA is fine for us.

That is your choice of course. But, as Paul says, the best longterm solution is to get it in to Unicode (if it’s a stable encoding). Getting it in to Unicode means computer operating systems will support it and other fonts may be developed to support it, and data interchange becomes possible. Right now your data is only meaningful if it is not separated from the font.

If you are still developing this solution, then proposing to Unicode would not be appropriate yet.

Musa IS still evolving, so it wouldn’t be appropriate anytime soon. But even if it weren’t, Unicode wouldn’t bring us much, if anything. Operating systems still don’t support, for example, Odiya, which has been in the Unicode BMP since the beginning, and many other scripts are poorly supported or lack niceties like ligatures, conjunctions, or combined letters. Yoruba, a language with 50 million speakers, has been petitioning Unicode for its four missing letters for years, on deaf ears. Adlam was added to Unicode 5-6 years ago, but in the SMP, where Java can’t reach it. Meanwhile, a full sixth of the BMP is devoted to Korean syllables, even though the Jamo are also encoded.

I’m not criticising Unicode for being imperfect. I AM criticising Unicode for having decided never to correct anything - that policy is not a benefit to consumers. The Unicode Consortium is composed of manufacturers, and I understand they have a legitimate interest in minimizing maintenance. But fate has a tendency to punish those who don’t make frequent small corrections with the occasional drastic correction, and I suspect that will happen with Unicode, too.

Meanwhile, we have no trouble with data interchange: you can send Musa over messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp, you can read Musa on web pages, you can use it in word processors, and so on … sometimes with a little extra trouble, but not much. We have about 20 font families, with more on the way, and a dozen keyboards for 5 operating systems, including a dedicated physical keyboard ( Any app that wants to support Musa can include a Musa font without Unicode’s blessing. And time seems to be on our side: many of the emoticons and Taiwanese characters that used to be in “our” PUA have moved into Unicode elsewhere - perfect :slight_smile:

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Don’t get me wrong! I think a unified encoding is a great benefit to humanity (and I’m old enough to remember what preceded it). But for me, it’s more important that it be as good as possible rather than immutable.