From: Peter Kirk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jul 31 2003 - 06:43:55 EDT
On 30/07/2003 21:53, Jony Rosenne wrote:
>I have not seen an answer to my question: Is the distinction from the Masora
Several sources have told me that it dates back at least to the
Leningrad codex, dated 1008/9 CE. As I wanted to check for myself, I
found a facsimile page at
The resolution even of the enlarged image is barely sufficient to tell.
But, looking at the centred words in the second line of text, 'eyley
mo'av yo'xazemo ra`ad from Exodus 15:15, there are clearly two holams
each positioned between mem and vav, so definitely to the right side of
the vav, where modern spelling is with holam male. There are many more
examples on this page.
The holam before weak alef in yo'xazemo is also positioned above the
gap between the letters, but in bigdol in the centred section of the
fourth line of text it is shifted to the left, although this is not
normal in modern typography.
The second word on the first line of text and the second word on the
third line, both yoshvey from 15:14,15, show that holam was not merged
with shin dot.
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a case of vav followed by holam
on this one page. But I think I can safely say that it would not have
been written like the holam plus vav in mo'av, with the holam definitely
to the right of the right edge of the vav. I am sure it would be
positioned above and to the right of yod just like the holam in
yo'xazemo and yoshvey above and to the left of yod.
So the general picture I get here is of a clear distinction between
holam pronounced before or after a base letter, but that the rules are
less fixed than in modern typography. If holam is to be pronounced
between base letters A and B, it may be positioned between A and B,
above the left of A, or above the right of B, in fairly free variation.
But if it is to be pronounced after B, its position is distinct, above
the left of B or further left. I would suggest that holam male as a
distinct character is a later innovation, that at this stage it was
written simply as a regularly positioned holam, roughly above the base
character boundary, followed by a vav.
>The evidence you present supports a claim that some manuscripts and printers
>have been making the distinction for hundreds of years.
>However, the distinction is rare, and common use does not make it. This
>common use somewhat predates computers, and the disparaging remark is out of
Yes, it does predate computers. I apologise for any suggestion that it
doesn't. It may be common use now, though far from universal, but the
goal of Unicode is to encode Hebrew (and other languages) from all
periods, and not just current common practice.
-- Peter Kirk email@example.com http://web.onetel.net.uk/~peterkirk/
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