[b-hebrew] Hebrew transliteration

Trevor Peterson 06peterson at cua.edu
Mon Jan 19 09:04:18 EST 2004

Peter wrote:

> And so for the Masoretic 
> pronunciation 
> perhaps we have some kind of perpetual Qere, with the 
> pronunciation as 
> if there is one lengthened lamed; so we would have unchanged 
> Ketiv HLLW 
> YH but Qere HAL.W. YAH.

This seems like a stretch to me. Wouldn't we expect rather to see no
nikkud on one or the other lamed? I seem to remember seeing this in
comparable situations, and it also happens in the Qur'an whenever a
consonant assimilates but remains in the writing. Since we know that
dagesh has a tendency to drop before a shva (see discussion of
semi-gemination in Jouon), it makes good sense that it would have done
so here (especially since the dagesh is otherwise present in the
inflectional forms of this verb).

> I don't like this because one object of any transliteration scheme I 
> might use would be to use plain text - although I know this 
> was not one 
> of your aims. A capital letter might be an alternative, especially as 
> many people are used to entering Hebrew text by using shift 
> for dagesh.

I'm also not crazy about using boldface to indicate consonantal
lengthening. The problem is that I can't think of an attractive
alternative. I did consider using caps, but I hate to do that, both for
the ugly appearance and for the possible confusion with other systems
that use caps to indicate emphatic consonants (a system that I like,
BTW, for ASCII environments). If anyone has any suggestions, I'd
appreciate it. Basically, I'd like a fairly intuitive and visually
pleasing way to indicate the presence of a dagesh forte (or even the
presence of any dagesh, which would save me the trouble of using lines
to indicate spirantization), without writing the consonant doubled.
Boldface would be one option, but it doesn't work in handwritten form
and could create problems if you have another reason to boldface the
whole word. A macron could work, especially if you used it for all
instances of dagesh, since there would be no occasion to use a similar
feature for spirantization, The problem is that it's already a
well-known convention for indicating spirantization, not to mention it
looks weird on tall consonants and combined with other diacritics. I
know MCW uses . (appealing for its graphical similarity to dagesh), but
besides being ugly, it conflicts with the usual convention for
indicating a word divider. I've thought about writing the extra
consonant as a subscript or superscript, but neither one seems terribly
intuitive; not to mention, it seems like too many subscripts and
superscripts could make the output too busy.

Trevor Peterson

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list