Re: Hebrew: glyphs vs. codepoints

From: Jonathan Rosenne (
Date: Wed Jun 02 1999 - 04:48:49 EDT

Dear Arno and Peter,

First, to substantiate my claim the appearance of the Holam is a matter of
taste, let me quote from Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, Edited by E. Kautzsch,
Revised by A. E. Cowley, Oxford 1910, Clause 8g: "In more exact printing, a
distinction is at least made between wo [Vav Holam] and [o, long Holam] ...".

Clause 8f is also relevant: "The [Holam] (without [Vav]) stands on the left
above the consonant ... If [Alef], as a vowel letter, follows a consonant
which is to be pronounced with [o], the point is placed over its right arm,
thus [Bo, Rosh]; but e.g. [Boam], since [Alef] here begins a syllable."

Of course, Gesenius and his followers were not concerned with encoding.
They were just interested in describing with the utmost precision what they

The placement of the Hebrew points is a complex matter, and the Holam is
part of this complexity. In addition to the placement on the right of the
following letter, it is also sometimes elided.

At 11:41 01/06/99 -0700, wrote:
>There is another question that needs to be asked in this discussion: how
>the "right holem" and "left holem" be encoded. I'd like to see both Jony and
>Arno answer this question for the set of examples Arno provided:

They are both encoded as Holam. This is just a placement issue, which is a
matter of typography and not of encoding. If you want, you can look at it
as an automatic shaping for Hebrew.

I wonder why, if you (Arno) believe so strongly that the finals should be
automatically shaped, you want shape variants encoded in this case.

>>The left holam is
>a) written on the left of the letter, and
>b) informs the reader that the letter _on which it sits_
> is spoken with /o/:
>Bo'i (here and always the capital letter has the holam)

The Holam is encoded after the Bet and is placed top left of it.

>Aoax ("A" stands for alef - here silent)

This seems to be Alef Vav Holam Het, the Holam is placed on the on the Vav,
this is called a Full Holam.

>Aotem ( " " " ; with tet)

This seems to be Alef Holam Tet Mem. The Holam is placed on the top left of
the Alef.

>caWon ("c" stands for ain)
>maAos (with samex)
>>The right holam is
>a) written on the right of the letter, and
>b) informs the reader that the _preceding_ letter
> is spoken with /o/:

This is Resh Holam Alef Shin, The Holam belongs to the Resh but is placed
on the right arm of the Alef.


The Holam and The Shin Dot are merged - only one dot is placed on the right
of the Shin.

>My question is this: I assume left holem is stored (in logical order)
after the
>character visually to the right; i.e. Aoax is stored as
>But what about the right holem? Which of the following is how roAsh would be
>Since Jony has said the choice of left or right side is "a matter of taste",
>that makes it sound to me like he would suggest the latter. Jony, is that
>I'm not sure how I think Arno might answer this.

This could be disputed. I think it is Resh Holam Alef Shin. When I learnt
Hebrew grammar I was taught that in these words the Alef is mute, as
opposed to the case of a Vav which together with the Holam constitutes a
Full Holam.



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