RE: Hebrew with Arabic-like pointing

From: Jonathan Rosenne <>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2012 23:43:36 +0300

It is the Arabic original of "The Guide for the Perplexed" of Maimonides, in Hebrew letters. The reference says "The Guide for the Perplexed : The Arabic original as published by Shelomo Ben-Eli'ezer Munk: with alternative versions, indexes and sections handwritten by the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon"





Writing the local languages with Hebrew letters was quite common, especially Arabic, German and Spanish (Castilian).


It seems that diacritic are used rather freely, both following Arabic practice (I guess in cases the author thought it was necessary to distinguish between similar words) and as the OP suggests to represent phonemes missing in Hebrew.




From: [] On Behalf Of Stephan Stiller
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 9:31 PM
To: Unicode
Subject: Hebrew with Arabic-like pointing


Hi folks,

I quite randomly encountered a book in my library with an orthography I can't make sense of. The book is titled {دلالة اﳊائـرين (= دلالة الحائرين)}/{דלאלה࣫ אלחאירין} and printed in Jerusalem ("ירושלים") and "Palestine" (so it says on an interior page). In our library this is call number B759 .M33 D35 1930 <> (I apologize if this is not helpful to everyone). So this seems to be Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed or a related work?

Opening random page 135, I see words like this:
(Here, I'm using U+08EA for one dot above and U+08EB for two horizontally arranged dots above.)

Basically, this is the Hebrew alphabet with the following Arabic diacritics or special characters: vowel marks (on the page I see at least: a, u, doubled a, sukūn), shaddah, hamza above, in-line/medial hamza, (the Hebrew) alef-lamed ligature, one dot above, two dots above (only above Hebrew letter he), maddah (only above Hebrew letter alef).

This looks to me like Arabic written with Hebrew base letters, with some obvious mappings:

* alef+maddah <- alif+maddah
* he with two dots above <- ة (tāʾ marbūṭah)
On the page I don't see candidates for doubled u or doubled i (two dots above appear only above Hebrew letter he). It is unclear what the one dot above stands for; I first thought kasrah (= vowel i) (because ḍammah (vowel u) does occur on the page, but I don't see kasrah), but then I see the "one dot above" diacritic only above gimel, dalet, kaf, tsadi, tav – so perhaps a better guess would be that it's to compensate for the Hebrew alphabet having 6 fewer letters than Arabic (counting hamza/alif only once here, as is customary – there seems incidentally to be disagreement on the cultural question of which of these two is considered a letter).

And I know for sure that this isn't the Babylonian, Palestinian, or Samaritan niqqud (system of pointing/vocalization).

Does anyone know what this is? One question is the language/"dialect" & choice of orthography, another is for which audience (linguistic group) this was written.

It seems like it's possible to represent this in Unicode, but it's a bit cumbersome with those script-external diacritics.


Received on Fri Sep 21 2012 - 15:47:07 CDT

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