Writing Unicode Hebrew

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Mon Dec 4 03:12:06 EST 2000

Good question. In principle this is easy enough in Unicode compatible
applications like Word 2000 (with Hebrew support installed), and most
programs in Windows 2000: you simply select the Hebrew keyboard and type
away. But in practice all you get (as far as I can tell) is unpointed text,
the consonants only, including final forms. This is simply a matter of how
the keyboard is set up; the Microsoft standard keyboard is designed for
unpointed modern Hebrew only.

In principle it should be possible to set up a keyboard to input vowel
points, dagesh etc as well, using a keyboard manager such as Keyman 3.2
(from www.tavultesoft.com, version 4 is not recommended). The vowel points
and dagesh are available in the standard MS Hebrew code page (for reference:
sheva=192, hatafsegol=193, hatafpatah=194, hatafqamats=195, hiriq=196,
tsere=197, segol=198, patah=199, qamats=200, holam=201, qubuts=203,
dagesh=204, meteg=205, maqaf=206, rafe=207, paseq=208, shindot=209,
sindot=210, sofpasuq=211, names as spelled in the Times New Roman font), and
so these characters can in principle be entered into Unicode compatible
applications e.g. Word 2000 on Windows 95/98/ME as well as NT/2000. But I'm
not quite sure if this can be made to work with Keyman 3.2 (it will
certainly be possible with Keyman 5, available as a beta). I am copying this
to an SIL expert who might be able to enlighten us on that question (i.e.
can we get Keyman 3.2 to work with the Hebrew code page on western Windows
9x?) The cantillations are not in the code page and so cannot be entered
directly from a keyboard in Windows 95/98/ME, but can in principle be
entered on Windows NT/2000.

One work round which you can certainly use in Word 2000, for any character
supported by Unicode, is to set up the points and cantillation your require
as control and alt key combinations, via the Insert Symbol dialog.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: John Richards [mailto:jhr at universalist.worldonline.co.uk]
Sent: 03 December 2000 23:09
To: Peter Kirk; Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Writing Unicode Hebrew

From: "Peter Kirk" <Peter_Kirk at sil.org>

> Meanwhile you can and should already use Unicode Hebrew for your web
> which is what sites in Israel already do. At least all IE5 users will be
> able to view them, and the standard should soon be supported by all
> browsers.

This is good advice, but while I can see it is easy enough to DISPLAY text
in Unicode Hebrew, what I do not understand at present is how one can WRITE
it with any sort of speed, in a word processor, for example. I presume it
does not entail typing in the full Unicode code for every character or
diacritical point. - ?

John Richards

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