Re: Hebrew Vav Holam

From: Ted Hopp (
Date: Thu Jul 31 2003 - 15:39:10 EDT

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

    On Thursday, July 31, 2003 2:31 PM, Jony Rosenne wrote:
    > This argumentation applies equally well to th (which should be at least
    > Unicodes in English), gh (how many?), etc.
    > Jony

    How so? Holam male has different semantics, different pronunciation, and
    different typography from consonantal vav with holam haser. The distinctions
    cannot be maintained in text encoded with Unicode. The same arguments
    (especially the point about Unicode erasing distinctions) do not apply to th
    and gh. Nobody (at least, no native English speaker) thinks of th or gh as
    single characters, either. (You might have a little more luck if you tried
    ch, ll, and rr in Spanish. But then, of course, your argument would be
    weaker because the devil's advocate position wouldn't be as silly.) The full
    argument also does not apply to the case of shuruq vs. vav with dagesh
    (semantics and pronunciation yes, typography no). Notice that nobody's
    making a lot of noise about shuruq.

    So we can just shrug our shoulders and say that nobody should care and so be
    it. Or we can look to a solution. The cleanest one (to my way of thinking)
    is to add a character to Unicode. I strongly prefer adding a holam male
    (base) character as opposed to adding a new combining mark.

    The only alternative proposal that seems to make some sense is to leave the
    Unicode characters as they are and adopt the usage convention that a Hebrew
    consonant combined with a holam haser (and possibly other marks, but not
    other vowels) followed by a vav with no combining marks (including no
    teamim, except maybe 05C4, if anyone can say what that's for) should be
    interpreted as the consonant followed by a holam male. However, this has its
    own problems, such as requiring extended contextual analysis (possibly
    including a look-ahead to the end of a word) to resolve the meaning of an
    encoding. We'd also need to figure out how to handle creating a holam male
    at the start of a line, surrounded by spaces, etc. We'd have to give up on
    the possibility of writing one holam male after another in any simple way.
    If it can be made to work under those conditions, it may be a viable


    Ted Hopp, Ph.D.
    ZigZag, Inc.

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