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

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 19:57:56 EDT

  • Next message: Christopher John Fynn: "Re: Major Defect in Combining Classes of Tibetan Vowels"

    John Hudson wrote:

    > At 02:36 PM 6/25/2003, Michael Everson wrote:
    > >Write it up with glyphs and minimal pairs and people will see the problem,
    > >if any. Or propose some solution. (That isn't "add duplicate characters".)
    > Peter Constable has written this up and submitted a proposal to the UTC.

    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.

    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).

    The presence of a ZWJ (cc=0) in the sequence would block
    the canonical reordering of the sequence to hiriq before
    qamets. If that is the essence of the problem needing to
    be addressed, then this is a much simpler solution which would
    impact neither the stability of normalization nor require
    mass cloning of vowels in order to give them new combining

    Effectively what would be needed would be an agreement by
    Biblical Hebraicists on a text representational convention
    using existing characters. By doing so, they would gain both
    the required orderings and the ability to make the distinctions
    they want.

    If use of a ZWJ (or something similar) seems alien to
    Hebrew specialists, then, as always, the details can be
    hidden behind the details of input method and keyboard
    front ends. The use of a ZWJ should not impact searches
    on data (if the searches are properly implemented), unless
    the search is explicitly concerned about the distinctions --
    in which case there actually *is* a difference in the text
    representation which can be searched for.

    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.


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