RE: question re: Hebrew accents

From: Jonathan Rosenne (
Date: Sat Jan 30 1999 - 02:44:56 EST

At 15:07 29/01/99 -0800, Scobie Smith wrote:
>I have to agree with Peter. I think something is amiss or just not

See below.

>If the position over the base is not important, then why have both zarqa and
>tsinnor in Unicode (0598, 05AE). The glyph shape is all that matters then.
>Note that tsinnor is also used only in the 3 books, so it could also be
>distinguished from zarqa (only in the 21 books) -- just as you point out
>tsinnorit and zarqa could be distinguished. So, why two glyphs in Unicode?

The positioning in Unicode and all other the character properties are defined
by the database, not by the glyph which is just for illustration.

You may find it at:

See also

For these two characters, UnicodeData contains:

   0598;HEBREW ACCENT ZARQA;Mn;230;ON;;;;;N;;;;;

   05AE;HEBREW ACCENT ZINOR;Mn;230;ON;;;;;N;;;;;

The code 230 means (as per ReadMe):
   230: Above

For ZINOR it is wrong and should be:
   228: Above left

>In the 3 books, there are two functionally distinct accents, tsinnor and
>tsinnorit, and they are placed differently over their resp. bases. Here, the
>placement is graphemic; it does distinguish the two accents. There would be
>no other way to distinguish them, unless one applies phonologically complex
>parsing rules. Based on this observation, I think Unicode needs two glyphs,
>namely to distinguish tsinnorit from tsinnor/zarqa. Tsinor and zarqa look
>the same and are placed the same over the base (upper left). Tsinnorit is
>the centered glyph.

Tsinor and Tsinorit need to be distinct, and they are: Tsinorit is 0598 and
Tsinor is 05AE. Zarqa and Tsinorit need not be distinguished, and share the
code 0598.

No, Zarqa and Tsinorit are "Above", Tsinor (mistakenly named Zinor) is "Above

>That the accent applies to the word or syllable (is suprasegmental) isn't
>relevant, because we are dealing with the graphemic problem that the accents
>are placed over particular base letters, not the phonological level. Also,
>we are already assuming that exact placement of the glyph depends on the
>width of the base letter (a subgraphemic variation). Rather, we are arguing
>that there is a graphemic distinction between tsinnor and tsinnorit, both
>used in the 3 books. No graphemic distinction exists between tsinnor and

Nor between Tsinorit and Zarqa.

>So, we do need two glyphs, but tsinnorit needs to be one. The other can be
>for tsinnor and zarqa.
>I believe 0598 = tsinnorit, not zarqa (unless you interpret "zarqa" as the
>generic, place-it-where-you-will glyph shape -- ok); and 05AE =
>Note on spelling: Unicode spells tsinnor "zinor". I'm now taking my
>spellings from the Tabula Accentuum that comes with the Biblica Hebraica
>Stuttgartensia, which provides exacts transliterations.

"Z" in commonly used to transliterate "Tsadi", corresponding to the way Z is
pronounced in German and other European languages. Since the Unicode and 10646
names are based on English, it should be "TS". This one, "Zinor", fell through
the cracks and wasn't noticed.

>Sorry to belabor such a seemingly minor issue...
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Jonathan Rosenne
>Sent: Friday, January 29, 1999 9:57 AM
>To: Unicode List
>Cc: Unicode List
>Subject: Re: question re: Hebrew accents
>There are indeed two characters, Zarqa and Tsinor, 0598 and 05AE.
>Zarqa and Tsinorit look the same and have similar meaning, but cannot be
>confused because Zarqa is used only with the 21 books of the Old Testament
>and Tsinorit only with the 3 EMET books (Job, Proverbs, Psalms).
>The placement of accents depends on the shape of the letter and the points
>it carries. They actually belong to the word, not to a specific letter of
>it, and are normally placed on the consonant of the syllable that has the
>The placement of the accents depends on the
>At 07:52 29/01/99 -0800, wrote:
>>       J>Zarqa is basically "above". The detailed positioning rules of
>>       Hebrew points and accents are too complex and imprecise and are
>>       of no interest to character standards. Unicode provides just a
>>       general indication of the placement.
>>       J>For example, the placement of Dagesh, basically a dot in the
>>       center of the letter, is affected by aesthetic considerations
>>       and conventions such that most font makes prefer to have the
>>       each letter with Dagesh a separate font. Or Sheva, basically
>>       "below", is moved to the right on some letters.
>>       I don't think a single character zarqa really is adequate.
>>       Consider dagesh: as you've indicated, aesthetic considerations
>>       can require a slightly different position for nearly every
>>       consonant that it occurs with. Yet, for a given consonant it
>>       would only ever occur in a single position. The is different
>>       from the situation with the zarqa/zinor/zinnorit glyph, which
>>       can appear over a given consonant in more than one position
>>       with the different positions having different significance. So,
>>       there are two distinct characters needed, whatever it seems
>>       best to call them. Indeed, in each case aesthetics require
>>       careful positioning on a consonant by consonant basis.
>>       Nevertheless, it is my understanding that two distinct
>>       characters are needed here.
>>       Peter Constable
>>       Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL

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