Re: Hebrew script in IDN

From: Cary Karp (
Date: Fri Nov 18 2005 - 02:38:59 CST

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    This question of need for GERESH and GERSHAYIM has been buffeted
    around in a number of venues, not least at my instigation. I brought
    it up this time with the intention of considering the needs of
    languages written using Hebrew script, other than Hebrew itself.

    Ladino, for example, uses GERESH to indicate semantically essential
    distinctions in the way a single base character is pronounced (as
    illustrated at
    Precisely the same type of phonetic transformation is also required
    in Yiddish, but is indicated by combining punctuation marks that are
    permitted without question in IDN. (In fact, GERESH and GERSHAYIM
    are currently legal in that context, and the present discussion is
    focused on the appropriateness of having that changed.) At least on
    first consideration, it seems reasonable to provide similar
    facilities in the IDN support of both of those languages. If we
    can't, there needs to be a cogent and compelling statement of
    justification for it.

    Finding an authoritative source of information about Ladino
    orthography is, however, not quite as straightforward a matter as it
    was to consult with the Academy of the Hebrew Language about the
    specific case described in a message posted to the present list in a
    previous iteration of this discussion
    The advice received from the Academy was that they regarded the
    inclusion of GERSHAYIM in the ICOM acronym as absolutely essential,
    were resolutely in favor of it being retained in the IDN, but if the
    only alternatives were either forgoing the GERSHAYIM or abstaining
    from participation in the IDN-space, the appearance of Hebrew in IDN
    was more important.

    Although what I have been saying here probably suggests the
    opposite, my personal feeling is that there is good reason to be
    extremely restrictive about permitting auxiliary marks in IDNs.
    There is, however, also good reason *not* to implement such
    restrictions without the most careful possible consideration of the
    needs of the community in which the language under consideration is
    used, as seen directly from that community's own perspective. I'll
    report back on the situation with Ladino once I've followed the
    leads I've been given. If anyone else on this list has something to
    contribute in that regard, I would be truly grateful to learn about

    There is an extensive literature about Yiddish orthography and on
    its basis a prototypal document about policies for its appearance in
    IDN in .museum has been posted at
    I will gladly discuss this either on-list or off with anyone who is
    interested. The Ladino counterpart to that document is in abeyance
    pending the resolution of the GERESH question.


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