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

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Wed Jul 30 2003 - 16:44:34 EDT

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    On 30/07/2003 13:22, Ted Hopp wrote:

    >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.)
    OK, I won't flunk him! :-) Of course we need to support modern Hebrew
    including every strange variant as well as biblical. And vice versa.

    >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: ...". ...
    Depends what you mean by "break". The renderer won't crash, but it won't
    render anything meaningful if what is put in is not meaningful. Just as
    putting "xzxzxzxzxz" after "Nowhere in the works of Shakespeare do the
    following character sequences occur: ..." turns "xzxzxzxzxz" into
    something meaningful.

    >...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.
    The encoding would have to become normative. The rendering algorithm
    wouldn't, though it would probably need to be outlined in a recommendation.

    >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.
    But surely standardising on one particular sensible interpretation is
    the way to go. And one person's hack is another person's sensible

    >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.)
    This depends on who you mean by "we". It's not just you and me, Ted. If
    in discussions on this list a consensus is reached that this is the best
    way to go, then we have the top people in Unicode behind us and
    convinced in advance. Someone needs to draw up a formal proposal, I
    suppose, but that's not a big job. SBL and SIL both have a stake here
    and experienced people who can help, if they agree. If we can't convince
    this list, then we are probably on a loser. But I already see several
    people starting to agree that a new character is the best way to deal
    with this issue.

    Peter Kirk

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