[b-hebrew] A threat to the integrity of the Hebrew language?

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Jul 18 13:47:45 EDT 2003

On Friday 18 July 2003 09:49, Peter Kirk wrote:
> No, I am not making allegations of another anti-Semitic or anti-Israel
> plot. There are no Hamans to be unmasked and hanged. The people involved
> have the best of intentions, to provide proper computer support for
> biblical Hebrew. But what they propose has the effect of requiring
> biblical Hebrew to be encoded on computers in a different and
> incompatible way from modern Hebrew. That is, they are proposing to
> erect an artificial barrier between biblical and modern Hebrew. The
> proposal will also disable existing Hebrew software from handling the
> biblical text.

The problem passages you mentioned strike me as not only trivial, but the kind 
that should be encoded differently in the first place (with the possible 
exception of yerushalaim and perhaps a couple of others).  Most of the 
instances of varied metheg placement, for example, look a lot like scribal 
errors to me.  Perhaps the proposers should keep in mind that BHS is based on 
a single medieval manuscript and includes all of that manuscript's freckles 
and warts.  If we airbrush those blemishes away, most of the basis for this 
suggestion vanishes with them.  Since BH, MishH and ModH all use the same 
script, it's counterproductive to encode them differently, not to say silly.

When it comes to words like yerushalaim, I have typed this word dozens of 
times in a regular TTF simply by a little creative use of the furtive patah.  
Most fonts that I know of include variations on the vowel points in order to 
align with narrow letters and such, and I would hope that Unicode fonts do 
something similar.  So I suspect that the means to resolve these minor issues 
already exists without creating a whole new set.

Somehow it doesn't surprise me that Microsoft supports further proprietary 

Dave Washburn
"God does a lot of things in the Psalms
that He can't get away with in systematic theology."

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