OTA BHS Conversion

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Mon Oct 16 11:34:30 EDT 2000

(Copied from the Biblical Hebrew list to some SIL font and encoding experts,
who may be able to comment further, and might even be persuaded to make the
changes necessary.)

Dear John,

I'm sorry that you are having this trouble. The frustrating thing is that
this process should be totally unnecessary as I have a near enough 100%
correct text. But for copyright reasons I cannot give it to you, as it was
derived from the CCAT copy of the BHS text which is protected by copyright.
The OTA (Oxford Text Archive) text, which seems to be freely available, is
almost the same as the CCAT text but differs in its verse number encodings.
The CCT conversion files in the SIL Hebrew Font Package were designed for
the CCAT text and so need to be modified for the slightly different OTA
encoding. If you have the full CCW (Consistent Changes for Windows) package
from SIL, I think it's available from www.sil.org, you should have enough
documentation to make these changes for yourself.

Try running first the following CCT file (BHS-CV.cct) which adds chapter and
verse numbering (following the CCAT format) to the OTA text. This should
make the OTA text much more like the CCAT one. You will still need to make
some changes to the other tables, but they should be obvious. I also have a
version of bhs2se.cct which I slightly modified to avoid extra spaces when
working with the OTA text, I can send you this is you like (as an attached
file, 8KB).

c CC table to add chapter and verse numbers to Oxford BHS
c Peter Kirk, December 1998

"~c" > '~a"c' store(chapter) '0' endstore c start of file only

"~x" > dup incr(chapter) store(verse) '1' endstore c new chapter

"~y" > incr(verse) do(outcv) c new verse

define(outcv) > nl '~x' outs(chapter) 'y' outs(verse)

Meanwhile, there is an alternative way ahead which I wish I could recommend,
at least for Windows users, but I don't think I can yet because I don't know
of a font which supports it. There is an international standard, Unicode,
which defines the encoding for Biblical Hebrew including all the
cantillation marks. It would be very easy to convert the OTA text into this
encoding, for one thing there would be no need for the tricky line reversal.
And Microsoft now has full support for display of right-to-left text
according to Unicode, which is included with Internet Explorer 5 (free! -
so, John, you already have it as your message was sent by Outlook Express 5)
and with Office 2000 for Windows 95/98/NT (western versions) users, also
included in Windows 2000. (Though you may need to download an additional
free support package for IE5.) The problem is that the standard Microsoft
Hebrew fonts, although they support vowel points (though holem not very
well) and dagesh, do not support cantillation marks. The free font Arial
Unicode MS supports the cantillation marks but unfortunately does not place
them properly above and below the characters.

Now I know that there are tools available to develop a Hebrew font with full
support for placing the vowels and cantillation marks according to context.
The technology is called OpenType and Microsoft's implementation of it is
called Uniscribe (Details from www.microsoft.com/typography - I haven't
visited there myself.), and there is a tool for font developers called
Visual OpenType Layout Tool (VOLT) at least in beta test. But what I don't
know is, has anyone made a Hebrew font which follows these definitions and
supports full cantillation? Or does anyone know of one which is available?
If not, there is an important task which can now be done, which will allow
full support of the Biblical Hebrew text according to international
standards, at least on the Microsoft platform and in principle also on other

Peter Kirk
  -----Original Message-----
  From: John Richards [mailto:jhr at universalist.worldonline.co.uk]
  Sent: 15 October 2000 11:35
  To: Biblical Hebrew
  Subject: OTA BHS Conversion

  May I enquire whether anyone on the list has managed to convert the Oxford
Text Archive (OTA) BHS text using
  the SIL CC packages so as to end up with a full BHS text in SIL Ezra TTF
  font on a PC?

  The CCT conversion files seem to be faulty to me. After systematically
  trying all the possible permutations described in their Convert2.PDF file,
  the best I have been able to achieve is an ALMOST perfect text (99% or
  but with serious shortcomings. The conversion table to insert chapter and
  verse numbering seems to corrupt the BHS file irretrievably, but by
  that stage, one can arrive at a text which with a little obvious minor
  editing is very nearly perfect, except that it has lost the first 2 or 3
  words of every chapter - and of course has no verse numbering. These are
  serious blemishes. However, the fact that 99% of the text is perfect
  (including all the vowel pointing and cantillation) proves, I think, that
  the correct PROCEDURE has been followed.

  If anyone has succeeded here, where I have failed, I would greatly
  appreciate it if I could benefit by their experience.

  Best wishes to all

  John Richards

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