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

From: Jony Rosenne (
Date: Thu Jun 26 2003 - 01:16:22 EDT

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    When, in the Bible, one sees two vowels on a given consonant, it isn't so.
    There is one vowel for the consonant one sees, and another vowel for an
    invisible consonant. The proper way to encode it is to use some code to
    represent the invisible consonant. Then the problem mentioned below does not

    For example, the word Jerusalem is often spelled without the Yod, to which
    the Hiriq belongs.


    > -----Original Message-----
    > From:
    > [] On Behalf Of John Hudson
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 11:21 PM
    > To: John Cowan
    > Cc:;
    > Subject: SPAM: Re: Major Defect in Combining Classes of Tibetan Vowels
    > At 01:15 PM 6/25/2003, John Cowan wrote:
    > >I don't understand how the current implementation "breaks BH
    > text". At
    > >worst, normalization may put various combining marks in a
    > >non-traditional order, but all alternative orders are canonically
    > >equivalent anyway, and no (ordinary) Unicode process should
    > depend on
    > >any specific order.
    > In Biblical Hebrew, it is possible for more than one vowel to
    > be attached
    > to a single consonant. This means that is it very important
    > to maintain the
    > ordering of vowels applied to a single consonant. The Unicode
    > Standard
    > assigns an individual combining class to every vowel, meaning
    > that NFC
    > normalisation may re-order vowels on a consonant. This is not simply
    > 'non-traditional' but results in incorrect rendering and a different
    > vocalisation of the text. The point is that hiriq before
    > patah is *not*
    > canonically equivalent to patah before hiriq, except in the erroneous
    > assumption of the Unicode Standard: the order of vowels makes
    > words sound
    > different and mean different things.
    > In order to correctly encode and render the Biblical Hebrew
    > text, it is
    > necessary to either a) never use normalisation routines that
    > re-order marks
    > (which is beyond the control of document authors), or b)
    > re-classify the
    > existing Hebrew marks so that all vowels are in a single
    > class and will not
    > be re-ordered during normalisation, or c) encode new marks
    > for Biblical
    > Hebrew with all vowels in a single class.
    > There are a few other desirable changes to the combining
    > class assignments
    > for some Hebrew accents, which make rendering easier and are more
    > linguistically logical, but the vowels are the most problematic.
    > 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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