Re: Yerushala(y)im - or Biblical Hebrew

From: Ted Hopp (
Date: Tue Jul 08 2003 - 12:26:14 EDT

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    On 08/07/2003 3:19, Jony Rosenne wrote:

    > Just a reminder that the statement of the problem has not been agreed to.
    > don't see a vowel sequence in Yerushala(y)im.

    Jony, even if you don't accept the problem as regards Yerushala(y)im, you
    must accept that modern Hebrew typography can use more than one vowel
    attached to a consonant. Just take a look at the pronunciation guide of
    foreign words in some dictionaries (e.g., Dagut, "Milon
    Angli-Ivri/Hebrew-English Dictionary of Contemporary Israeli Hebrew", Kiryat
    Sefer, Jerusalem, 1998). Granted that in this particular case, the two
    vowels are not both combining characters, the point is that two vowels CAN
    attach to a single consonant in valid, modern Hebrew usage.

    But regarding Biblical text, the issue is not what's right or wrong,
    acceptable or unacceptable, in Hebrew. The issue is to use Unicode to
    transmit faithfully the Hebrew texts created long before the development of
    typography or computers. We don't have the right to change the
    representation that was handed down to us.

    Also, there are missing letters and there are missing letters. There are
    cases of a single text (e.g., Holzhausen Bible of 1889, Lowe and Brydone
    Bible of 1948, as documented by Yannis Haralambous) where the "missing
    letters" in some words are simply not present in the representation and the
    vowels are placed on the consonants that do appear (not only Yerushala(y)im,
    but also "ke(ch)o(l )asher" in Ezekiel 9:11, for instance, where the kaf is
    combined with a dagesh, sheva, holam, and tipcha), while the missing letters
    in other words are denoted by an asterisk, space, or other visible device
    (in one, case, an isolated dagesh with a tsere and mapach in BHS, Isaiah

    The point is, whether or not there is a missing letter in Yerushala(y)im,
    the Masoretic (and most common) orthography is to write the word AS IF the
    lamed had two vowels (and maybe a cantillation mark as well). This should be
    encoded differently than the cases where the orthography is to attach vowels
    to visual indicators of missing letters. So even if Unicode had a code point
    for "MISSING LETTER", it wouldn't be usable for both Yerushala(y)im and for
    the 30 or so cases of visual indications of missing letter in Tanakh that
    are documented by Haralambous.


    Ted Hopp, Ph.D.
    ZigZag, Inc.

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