Re: Biblical Hebrew (Was: Major Defect in Combining Classes of Tibetan Vowels)

From: John Hudson (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 20:20:38 EDT

  • Next message: Kenneth Whistler: "Re: Biblical Hebrew (Was: Major Defect in Combining Classes of Tibetan Vowels)"

    At 04:57 PM 6/25/2003, Kenneth Whistler wrote:

    >And I hate to have to continue being Mr. Negativity on this
    >list, but I remain unconvinced that the proposed solution
    >(of cloning 14 Hebrew points and vowels) just to fix an
    >unpreferred canonical reordering result represents the
    >sole remaining alternative. In this case, I believe the
    >side-effects of the proposed medicine are worse than the
    >disease itself.

    I didn't say I like the proposed solution, only that I've not heard of
    another one that works and is acceptable to the UTC.

    >For example, the alleged problem of the vocalization order of
    >the Masoretes might be amenable to a much less drastic
    >solution. People could consider, for example, representation
    >of the required sequence:
    > <lamed, qamets, hiriq, final mem>
    > <lamed, qamets, ZWJ, hiriq, final mem>
    >and then map <qamets, ZWJ, hiriq> to the required glyph
    >to get the hiriq to display to the left (and
    >partly under the following final mem).

    There are a few problems with this scenario. One is that control characters
    are unreliable agents in glyph-level processing. Most applications do not
    paint control character glyphs, which means that they do not appear in
    glyph strings so cannot used in glyph substitution lookups. This seems to
    be a pretty much universal assumption about control characters. MS Word
    offers the option of turning on display of control characters, but then the
    purpose is to be able to see them in text, not to affect the text by
    toggling the display option. Arguably, there are implementation options
    that would overcome this problem, but they are complicated and the present
    assumption seems pretty universal.

    That said, I would be willing to explore this idea further, since I don't
    think it is necessary to get into glyph substitution involving ZWJ if the
    presence of ZWJ in the character string always blocks canonical reordering.
    In the example I gave, simply preventing, e.g. the hiriq from being
    re-ordered should be enough to make it correctly render under the right
    side of the final mem. However, this example is something of an exceptional
    rendering, currently involving a special /HiriqFinalMem/ glyph. I would
    need to check all the other affected sequences to confirm whether inserting
    ZWJ causes mark positioning problems (I know it will in some applications,
    simply because support for ZWJ isn't always very good). The frustration is
    that although ZWJ cannot be reliably used in glyph substitution lookups,
    its presence can break glyph positioning lookups.

    Thanks for the idea, though. I think it is worth exploring.

    >The problem of combinations of vowels with meteg could be
    >amenable to a similar approach. OR, one could propose just
    >one additional meteq/silluq character, to make it possible
    >to distinguish (in plain text) instances of left-side and
    >right-side meteq placement, for example.

    Yes, that is an option for the meteg/silluq regardless of how the vowel
    ordering problem is addressed.

    John Hudson

    Tiro Typeworks
    Vancouver, BC

    If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores,
    are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine,
    who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint
    Augustine and Stonehenge -- that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.
                                                                 - Umberto Eco

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