meteg positioning problem

Peter Kirk Peter_R_Kirk at
Wed Dec 18 07:10:42 EST 2002

I have been asked by my former colleague Peter Constable to send this to
the b-hebrew list. To summarise, and for those who are not familiar with
some of the jargon, the question is whether there is an important
distinction, which should be preserved in computer texts, between three
possible positions of meteg; to the left of a vowel point (much the
commonest position); to the right; or in the middle of a hatef vowel.

Peter Kirk
peter.r.kirk at

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter_Constable at [mailto:Peter_Constable at] 
Sent: 14 December 2002 07:00
To: Biblical Languages
Subject: [biblical-languages] meteg positioning problem

Many of you will know that meteg can occur in different positions
to a vowel -- left, right or medial (with hataf vowels). In the BHK,
positioning meteg on the right was used as a text-critical convention. I
have no idea how all three positions arose in BHS, but they are
For instance:

hataph patah + medial meteg: Lev. 21:10.4
hataph patah + left meteg: Job 22:4.1
hataph patah + right meteg: Ps 85:7.1

Here's a count that was obtained from the Michigan-Clarmont text:

Vowel         Left  Right  Medial
sheva          615   11       0
hataf segol      2    0      28
hataf patah      4    2      50
hataf qamats     0    0       0
hiriq         7318   27     N/A
tsere         4377   38     N/A
segol         4741   59     N/A
patah         3933  412     N/A
qamats      11,427  184     N/A
holam         6581    9     N/A
qubuts         132    1     N/A

(No guarantee this is completely accurate; one of my co-workers produced
this for me, but I discovered a couple of errors. I checked the counts
hataf vowels manually.)

These distinctions are encoded in the Michigan-Claremont-Westminster

My question is this: do Biblical Hebrew experts want a way to encode
distinctions in Unicode? (It currently does not provide any means for

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485

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