Re: From [b-hebrew] Variant forms of vav with holem

From: Ted Hopp (
Date: Wed Jul 30 2003 - 16:22:28 EDT

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Hebrew Vav Holam"

    On Wednesday, July 30, 2003 2:13 PM, Peter Kirk wrote:
    > >... analogous to the the past tense, female, second person of
    > >borrow: <lamed-qamats-vav-vav-qamats-he>.).
    > >
    > To me as a reader of biblical Hebrew, this form looks like an error. I
    > would expect either sheva under the first vav, or the two vavs to be
    > combined into one with dagesh. Nowhere in the Bible do two consonantal
    > vavs occur together, without a full vowel between them.

    But this wasn't Biblical Hebrew, it was in a modern book for English
    speakers learning Hebrew. If by "error" you mean "non-standard," I'd agree.
    If you mean "unintended", however, then it is not an error. The author makes
    the point himself that using vowels on top of full spelling is
    "unauthentic." However, Unicode shouldn't disqualify the poor guy's usage!
    (Even if he is only the current president of the [U.S.] National Association
    of Professors of Hebrew.)

    Putting kholam before vav in order to represent kholam male is a fragile
    kludge. I can imagine breaking it with a sentence that starts, "Nowhere in
    the Hebrew Bible do the following character sequences occur: ...".
    Furthermore, the issue isn't whether the convention is internally
    consistent, it's that it violates Unicode rules about combining characters.
    At a minimum, this interpretation and algorithm would have to become
    normative parts of Unicode for it to be useful for data interchange.

    Every developer who cares about kholam male vs. vav-kholam khaser has had to
    invent some hack to get things to work for his or her needs, because Unicode
    doesn't support the distinction. Standardizing on one particular hack
    doesn't strike me as the way to go.

    I ought to be able to encode what I want and have it decoded at the other
    end the way I intended. On occassion, we intentionally mis-spell things in
    English; let's not rely on the assumption that Hebrew is exempt.

    As for proposing a new character to Unicode, it's an idea I'd strongly
    support. But my assessment is that making and following up with such a
    proposal is a quite sizeable project, and, frankly, we don't have the
    resources to pursue it. (Witness the effort put forth by the UYIP folks in
    getting HEBREW LETTER YOD WITH HIRIQ [FB1D] accepted.)


    Ted Hopp, Ph.D.
    ZigZag, Inc.

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