Re: 5 Hebrew Consonants Shaping

From: Arno Schmitt (
Date: Thu May 27 1999 - 17:04:55 EDT

Dear Jony,

you are not addressing any of my arguments.
You write:
> A script is a tradition for writing the language. ... I don't need to
> convince you or anyone else that our traditions are good
thus implying that I want to change the way Hebrew is written by
hand or appears on screen and in printed books.

All I say is: the shape of the 5 consonants in question does not
alter the meaning of words whereas "Conservatives" and
"conservatives", "Liebe" und "liebe", "Manche" et "manche",
"Scala" e "scala" are different words. All Hebrew words (leaving
abbreviations aside) ending in "m" are written with the final
shape of the ONE letter mem.

You write:
> Please let us see whether there are out there real users of the Hebrew script
> that use only the nominal form plus the invisible marks

Users of Gamma Unitype and Gamma Universe phonetical keyboards
type just the letter,
the program outputs (on the screen, in print) the correct shape of
the letter - depending on the sign following the letter in
question: when there is no letter following (including the
artificial letter ZWJ) the final shape is displayed. Whenever a
letter (includding the separator ZWNJ) follows the normal shape is

It is not a question of changing the script, but of the most
economical input method (for kids and Hebrew-typing neophytes --
that people who have mastered the objectively uneconomical method
find it easy, is an other matter), and the best storage method.
> Unicode is not about finding better ways to write various languages,
> it is about including them all in a single code.

But nobody has given a valid argument that mem and mem sofit are
different letters and not just different shapes of the same

Arno Schmitt

> > The Hebrew point Dagesh transforms a fe into a pe, and
> > since there is no final form of pe (only for FE -- the Unicode
> > name "final pe" is not correct), PE plus Dagesh should
> > be treated as PE plus ZWNJ => no final form even at the end of a
> > word.
> Wrong on several counts. There is no Hebrew letter fe, and the Dagesh does not
> transform the letter Pe to any other letter. It only specifies its pronunciation, stress and "weight". The Unicode name is correct - it is the final form of the Hebrew
> letter Pe. The Dagesh is not required, and whether the final form is to be used or
> not cannot be deduced solely from the presence or absence of the Dagesh. And the
> Dagesh "logic" cannot be applied to other final letters.
> Jony

Whatever you say,
1.) pe/fe is pronounced as fe without dagesh and as pe with
2.) because in the final position pe/fe NEVER takes a dagesh, the
    convention of written "Philip" with a canonical PE and not as
    a FINAL FE developed.
You are right, that the Dagesh is often omitted in writing (just
like some people do not dot their i and do not cross the t); in
proper spelling it is written, it in Hebrew "Philip" and Yiddish
"shlep" it is there even if you do not write it.
So, I just propose it as an alternative to ZWJ as a keyboard input
in this specific case; I not concerned whether you display it on
the screen.

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