Re: Hebrew hataf vowels (was: About CGJ)

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Thu Jul 24 2003 - 14:46:29 EDT

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    On 24/07/2003 11:17, John Hudson wrote:

    > The approach I've taken in the SBL Hebrew font is based on extensions
    > to the current Microsoft Hebrew OpenType spec that Ralph Hancock
    > worked out in his Unicode/OT versions of the SIL Biblical Hebrew
    > fonts. Ralph and I corresponded a lot and shared font sources along
    > the way, and are feeding our solutions back to Microsoft so that their
    > Hebrew spec can be updated.
    > John Hudson
    I'm glad to hear it. But such things need to be cross-platform. They
    should also be public*, because that is the only way to make them
    cross-platform and because that way we can all be sure that all expert
    opinions have been taken into account. So probably Unicode is the
    appropriate forum for discussions and for formalising these things. On
    this issue there seems to be a serious lack of input from Jewish and
    Israeli scholars. I just received a critique of Ezra SIL from an Israeli
    source which would probably not have been necessary if he and others
    like him had been consulted earlier.

    One of the specific issues he brought up was this one: how do you
    distinguish the holam-waw vowel combination from the consonant waw
    followed by the vowel holam? They are clearly visually distinct in BHS
    and other printed Hebrew Bibles, see Genesis 4:13, contrast words 4 and
    5 in BHS. And they are clearly semantically distinct. On a related
    issue, how do you encode holam above the right side of aleph, as in the
    very common Hebrew word for "head", see Genesis 3:15 12th word? This is
    another issue on which different texts differ, and in nearly every verse
    as holam-waw is very common. (Consonant waw with holam is not very
    common, but it is not rare either.)

    * I am aware that it is intended for the SBL Hebrew Font User Manual to
    be made public (and is indeed already publicly available at,
    and that this contains much of the material in question. This is
    certainly useful. But SBL is not a recognised standards body.

    Peter Kirk

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