[b-hebrew] Draft proposal for Unicode encoding of holam male

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Apr 8 19:05:17 EDT 2004

I have drafted a proposal for encoding holam male (full holam) in 
Unicode. This is for cases when it needs to be distinguished from 
consonantal vav with holam, especially with the biblical text. The draft 
is at
http://qaya.org/academic/hebrew/Holam%20Male.html. (This will be 
converted to PDF for the final proposal.)

Your comments are welcome. They should be directed either to me 
personally (peterkirk at qaya.org) or to the Unicode Hebrew list, 
hebrew at unicode.org; I don't want parallel discussions on several lists. 
My conclusion remains tentative, so you are welcome to try to change my 
mind. If anyone would like to join me as a joint proposer, please let me 

I hope to submit this proposal to the Unicode Technical Committee in 
time for their June 2004 meeting, for it to be considered alongside some 
other proposals to improve Unicode Hebrew, including 
http://www.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n2692.pdf and 
http://www.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n2714.pdf. I intend also to draft 
proposals for distinguishing medial and right meteg from the regular 
left meteg, and for clarifying the encoding of the accents zarqa/tsinor 
and tsinorit.

(Apologies to anyone who receives multiple copies of this. I am sending 
blind copies to some individuals and private lists.)

Here is my summary of my current draft proposal:

> The Hebrew point HOLAM combines in two different ways with the Hebrew 
> letter VAV. When HOLAM appears above the top right of VAV, the 
> combination is known as holam male and is pronounced as a vowel. In 
> modern typography holam male is not always distinguished from 
> consonantal VAV followed by the vowel HOLAM, written with HOLAM above 
> the top left of VAV, but the distinction is clear and significant in 
> some texts, especially older texts. Holam male is very common in 
> pointed Hebrew texts; consonantal VAV with HOLAM is less common but 
> not extremely rare.

> Unicode does not currently specify how to distinguish between these 
> two sequences. Several different ways have been used in existing 
> texts, or recommended for use with Unicode Hebrew fonts. To avoid 
> proliferation of ad hoc solutions, it is proposed here that the UTC 
> specify an encoding for holam male.

> Four possible solutions are outlined below. The (tentatively) 
> preferred solution is to encode holam male, when distinguished from 
> consonantal VAV with HOLAM, as the sequence <VAV, ZWJ, HOLAM>.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list