Re: Back to Hebrew -holem-waw vs waw-holem

From: Ted Hopp (
Date: Wed Jul 30 2003 - 19:12:25 EDT

  • Next message: Peter Kirk: "Re: Hebrew Vav Holam"

    On Wednesday, July 30, 2003 5:20 PM, wrote:
    > Ted Hopp wrote on 07/29/2003 01:20:08 PM:
    > > The two vowels kholam male and shuruq have nothing to do with the
    > consonant
    > > vav (HEBREW LETTER VAV) other than that they are written with the same
    > > glyph.
    > If they are written with the same glyph, then they are written with the
    > same character. Unicode encodes characters, not phonemes. There is
    > some language for which "x" is used to represent a vowel, or perhaps a
    > tone, but we don't need to encode two (or three) "x" characters. Sorry,
    > I think the reasoning here is wrong.

    Sorry, that was sloppy wording. What I meant (and tried to make it clear
    later in the message) was that they both involved the use of the vav glyph.
    But, obviously, neither kholam male nor shuruq are fully represented by a
    vav glyph alone (in pointed text).

    > > Hebrew characters are used for
    > > much more than spelling Hebrew words.
    > And, apparently, for more than one phoneme; but we still encode the
    > characters but once.
    > > These different uses for the same (or approximately same) glyphs
    > Well, are the glyphs the same, or only approximately the same?
    > > Other typographic curiosities: The HEBREW POINT QAMATS [05B8] is used
    > > two Hebrew vowels...
    > > The same comment goes for HEBREW POINT SHEVA...
    > Same response.

    I raised four cases that involve semantically distinct characters, but
    Unicode provides only a single (normalized) representation:

    kholam male vs. vav with kholam khaser
    shuruq vs. vav with dagesh
    sheva na vs. sheva nakh
    qamats katan vs. qamats gadol

    All four cases involve differences in phonemic value (usually; in some
    Hebrew accents, the fourth case has no phonemic difference, although I
    believe a difference in terminology is still maintained). In all four cases,
    there are documented instances of the differences being phonemic only (i.e.,
    identical rendering within each case). However, in three of the four cases
    (shuruq vs. vav with dagesh is the exception), there are documented
    instances of typographic as well as phonemic differences. These cases are
    most often found where precision of pronunciation is a priority: sacred and
    liturgical texts; poetry; educational materials.

    I hope this helps clarify what is admittedly a confusing situation.


    Ted Hopp, Ph.D.
    ZigZag, Inc.

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