RE: Hebrew: glyphs vs. codepoints

From: Jonathan Rosenne (
Date: Sun May 30 1999 - 14:52:58 EDT

There aren't two Holams. These are glyphs, not characters. Whether they are distinguished or not is a matter of style and preference. In any case, the precise placement of the Hebrew points is a matter for typographers and font designers and is out of scope of Unicode/10646.

Arno, you insist on repeating yourself regarding the Hebrew final letters. This matter had been discussed several times before both Unicode and ISO accepted our position.

Arabic and Hebrew are not the same. In Arabic there are few exceptions, whereas in Hebrew there are many+ADs- In Arabic automatic shaping was the accepted and desirable practice, whereas in Hebrew it was tried a few times (by Microsoft and others) and was not accepted by the users.

I do not wish do discuss the merits and logic of your proposal, this is not the point, it is not the job of international standards to improve local traditions.


+AD4- -----Original Message-----
+AD4- From: Arno Schmitt
+AD4- Sent: Sunday, May 30, 1999 6:00 PM
+AD4- To: Unicode List
+AD4- Subject: Hebrew: glyphs vs. codepoints
+AD4- The five final forms of Hebrew consonants are just like the final
+AD4- forms of most Arabic letters. They made it to Unicode codepoints
+AD4- only because Hebrew has so few glyphs that the Israeli
+AD4- Standardization body could place them all on a 7-bit block.
+AD4- (For the exceptions ZWJ and ZWNJ were added. In Arabic there are
+AD4- headers in dictionaries where all the letters of the first and
+AD4- last word on the page are written in isolated form+ADs- other
+AD4- exceptions are abbreviations, loan and dialect word.)
+AD4- But better five redundant letters than a missing one+ACE-
+AD4- But, all +ACI-Unicode compiling+ACI- word processors mistake the block
+AD4- 0500 as a complete repertoire of Hebrew glyphs +AD0- the sign missing
+AD4- in the block is not printable+ACE-
+AD4- Hebrew has a holam to the right of a letter,
+AD4- and a holam to the left of letter.
+AD4- The difference between +ACI-(ma)tsot+ACI- (loafs of unleavened bread)
+AD4- and +ACI-(mi)tswot+ACI- (obligations)
+AD4- is the difference between right holam and left holam.
+AD4- This occurs not only with waw, but with alef too,
+AD4- cf. oax, otem, bo'i (with left holam)
+AD4- and bo, rosh (with right holam).
+AD4- I have no idea how many people have ever wondered why there is a
+AD4- single free space in the middle of the Hebrew block: 05BA
+AD4- There used to be both holams, 05B9 and 05BA.
+AD4- This was simplified to one holam, because if the program know the
+AD4- rules of Hebrew spelling well (rules like: sin, alef, waw
+AD4- +ACI-attract+ACI- the holam that phonologically +ACI-belongs+ACI- to the preceding
+AD4- consonant, shin +ACI-attracts+ACI- the holam that phonologically +ACI-belongs+ACI-
+AD4- to the following consonant), and knows what the preceding and
+AD4- following signs are, it finds the right form of (place for) holam.
+AD4- But this is true of the five final shape of the consonants in
+AD4- question as well.
+AD4- I think we have to live with this inconsistency.
+AD4- But there is no excuse for software developers,
+AD4- - not to give us proper placing of the holam,
+AD4- - not to provide us with proper shaping of Hebrew consonants (as
+AD4- is done for Arabic and Indic scripts) - for thus to lazy to type
+AD4- final forms where they regularly occur.
+AD4- Arno Schmitt

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:46 EDT