Re: Hebrew final letters

From: Jonathan Rosenne (
Date: Sun Oct 24 1999 - 17:58:37 EDT


So what?

your arguments are correct but are barely relevant and misleading.

"Almost no exceptions" is logically equivalent to "there are exceptions",
as opposed to "there are no exceptions". The actual percentage is not

Any list would be open ended - new words are constantly being added. As you
say, any foreign word ending with a hard Pe or Kaf is a candidate, and any
abbreviation ending with a final letter.

By the same logic, there is no need for distinct upper and lower case
letters in English. The rules are simple and the exceptions are rare.


At 14:29 24/10/99 -0700, arno wrote:
>Jonathan Rosenne wrote:
>> in Hebrew there are many exceptions to the rule
>> and it is quite complicated or even not possible
>> to decide algorithmically which letter to use.
>This is wrong.
>There are almost no exceptions to the rule in Hebrew.
>Although, in this day and age, there are huge computer data
>bases -- Bar Ilan University's Hebrew department's data base
>has 26 million entries --, Jonny never came up with a list,
>or an estimated percentage of exceptions.
>The rule is clear: final shape in final position,
>canonical shape in initial and middle position.
>The few exceptions are:
>1.) When peh is pronounced /p/ (as opposed to /f/), it is written
>as a non-final.
>Usually these are loan words and foreign proper nouns: 'pop', 'tip
>top', 'stop' 'filip', 'xrop'.
>2.) The name of the Egyptian president: Mubarak
><Both of these cases follow the logic of dagesh as a modifier of
>pronunciation: one letter is pronounced /b/ or /v/, an other
>/k/ or /kh/, a third /p/ or /f/ -- when it is written with
>dagesh or without. This dagesh normally occurs at the start
>of a syllable, not at the end. So peh with dagesh is normal for
>the initial position, it is pronounced as /p/. In the final
>one normally has final peh without dagesh, pronounced as /f/.
>So, in Modern (!!) Hebrew -- following Yiddish -- one occasionally
>uses the initial form at the end or the pronunciation that in
>Hebrew words NEVER occur at the end of a syllable let alone word.>
>3.) In advertisements of the MishkaN Bank "giving mortages" is
>written "mashkaNtaut" with final-nun so that the word looks like
>the banks name.
>4.) some abbreviations and Israeli voting symbols.
>All these case are clearly exceptions to the rule and very rare.
>Since Unicode is about scripts (not languages) and in Yiddish
>there are more cases with non-final peh (with dagesh) that ONE
>letter-shape might well deserve a code point of its own (??);
>the other four made it into Unicode only for compatability
>with earlier standards.
>So let me repeat Otfried Cheong's question:
>Is there a minimal pair in Hebrew word differentiated
>only by KAF/FINAL KAF?

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