Re: Yerushala(y)im - or Biblical Hebrew

From: Ted Hopp (
Date: Fri Jul 25 2003 - 10:06:24 EDT

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Kent Karlsson" <>

    > I find the entire idea with CGJ (for any use) a kludge...
    > A possible solution to the particular problem at hand that
    > hasn't yet been mentioned (that I've noticed), is to use the
    > already encoded vowel characters for the most part (also
    > for biblical texts), but use new "biblical" vowels only for the
    > occurrences where they occur as *second* vowel (with an
    > implied invisible consonant): HEBREW SECOND VOWEL HIRIQ,
    > etc. (Strikes me as rather elegant, though it requires the
    > addition of new characters.)

    This would make editing somewhat interesting. How would a consonant followed
    by a solitary "second vowel" be handled? (Say, I enter yerushala(y)im and
    then delete the patah.) As if the "second vowel" were a "first vowel", I

    So let's assume these "second vowel" code points had the combining classes
    that have been proposed for the "bibilical vowels". It seems to me, as a
    software developer, that using the new code points exclusively will fix all
    my problems with the current vowels. Why wouldn't I do that? Frankly, having
    to mix new and old Hebrew vowel code points is quite scary to me. I see all
    sorts of potential for problems, spanning the spectrum from legacy data to
    quirky new behavior that has to be explained to our users.

    It may not say so on anyone's proposal, but introducing new code points for
    Hebrew vowels is tantamount to moving the Hebrew vowels to new code points.
    After all, if given a choice of supporting a mix of two vowel systems or of
    just ignoring (or silently converting from) the current vowels in favor of
    new ones (whatever they're called) that do all that is needed, the choice
    seems obvious. Switching to a new, corrected vowel system would save us
    (and, I would think, all developers) time and coding; such a system, far
    from affecting a small group of Biblical Hebrew specialists (as claimed by
    the proposers), is likely to affect nearly all those who work with Unicode
    Hebrew. Tell me if I'm wrong please, but isn't moving characters (however
    it's disguised) as much of a violation of the stability policy as is
    changing combining classes of the existing vowels?

    And we're all absolutely sure that no one will ever have a legitimate reason
    to put three Hebrew vowels on a consonant. Ever. Right?

    The Hebrew vowels interact typographically and the combining classes should
    have been assigned accordingly originally. That's what should be fixed now.
    I recognize the powerful political issues involved, and that these are
    barriers to this happening. But trying to find technical solutions to
    political problems is extremely short-sighted. I would urge that all
    technical efforts be directed away from solving the politicians' problems
    and focus on how to minimize whatever damage may be caused by changing the
    combining classes.

    From my company's perspective, all other proposals I've seen would be more
    damaging to us than doing the right thing. It would be beneficial to hear
    from others on this list about what the specific technical (not political)
    impacts would be (both positive and negative) on their work and their
    products that would come from fixing the combining classes of the existing

    Ted Hopp, Ph.D.
    ZigZag, Inc.

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