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

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Wed Jul 30 2003 - 20:31:06 EDT

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

    > But, as you, Ted, have said several times, we must
    > support irregular spellings as well as regular ones.

    Yes, of course, but there is a limit to how far this
    desideratum can be carried forward in plain text. And
    it tends to depend on the principles of the writing
    system itself.

    For an alphabet with no accents, it is easy. For English,
    for example, just rearrange the letters into any old
    irregular spelling you want: Leticia, Laticia, Latesha,
    Lateesha, Letiesha, ... just keep on going until you
    get tired.

    For an system like Han ideographs, we are mostly talking
    about a long history of accumulation of variant forms
    of the characters themselves, and the problem is an
    encoding conundrum that creates a problem of how many
    spurious or unusual forms do you encode separately
    as characters, which have come into the status of
    validly separate characters, and which should just be
    treated as glyphic variants of existing characters.

    For an abjad historically written without vowels, but
    with a long subsequent history of annotational
    placement of vowel points, we are walking a fine line
    here. One the one hand, you could take Jony's position,
    which can be summed up as encode enough distinctions
    to match current conventional usage, and use markup
    for further distinctions. Or you could take the position
    argued by Ted, Peter, and Joan, that the scholastic
    texts they are dealing with have their own conventions
    which make more distinctions required for *plain text*
    representation. I think that in general the case that
    Ted et al. are arguing makes sense for the Biblical
    Hebrew texts, but at some point, the fine detail in
    manuscript and typographical placement of annotational
    dots goes beyond what is reasonable to represent in
    a plain text encoding. As long as we are clear that there
    *is* a line to be drawn here, we can continue to argue
    just which side of the holam that line needs to be


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