[b-hebrew] question about Song of the Sea

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Mar 31 06:21:15 EST 2004

On 30/03/2004 17:29, Dora Smith wrote:

> Ah - OK.  THe only thing I now don't undrestand is what is the 
> difference between standard Hebrew fonts and nonstandard Hebrew fonts.  
> The two I have that come up in Outlook Express and WORD are WL 
> HebrewParsons, and WP Hebrew David, both of which are ones you guys 
> recommended.  I think it's using the WL HEbrew Parsons one. 
> <mailto:villandra at austin.rr.com>

I didn't recommend these fonts (at least within the last five years) and 
never would. They are non-standard fonts. I suspect that they are symbol 
encoded fonts. In any case, they put Hebrew letters in places where they 
should not be*, and by doing so bypass the mechanisms built into Windows 
and other OSs for displaying Hebrew right to left (which means that you 
have to type them in backwards). Five years ago this was a sensible 
thing to do, because only a few computers (mainly those with Middle 
Eastern versions of Windows) supported the right to left display 
methods. Now most computers are able to display Hebrew right to left - 
anything with Windows 2000 and XP, also Windows 95/98/ME with a Internet 
Explorer 5.5 or later installed, also recent versions of MacOS and Linux.

* Some further explanation of this: Originally these fonts were designed 
on a basis like replacing A with aleph, B with bet etc, and they still 
work like this on older systems. But they were also marked as symbol 
fonts to indicate that they were not useful for ordinary text. As a 
result, on newer Unicode compatible Windows systems, the codes used are 
a special block in the Unicode Private Use Area. These codes are 
displayed as question marks when a non-symbol font is selected, but the 
"symbols" reappear when the symbol font is selected. Try selecting the 
font called "Symbol"; probably your Hebrew will turn into Greek!

The fonts I recommended are SBL Hebrew and Ezra SIL. Try also the font 
David or Guttman David which may also be on your system. You can use the 
standard Microsoft fonts Times New Roman, Arial etc (recent versions of 
them), but these don't look so good and holam is misplaced. You can type 
these with the Hebrew keyboard built into Windows 2000/XP, or with the 
special methods which come with SBL Hebrew and with Ezra SIL.

This Unicode Hebrew is compatible with what is used in Israel, and you 
should be able to use it for e-mail with Israelis, although perhaps not 
with Israelis using old Unix systems (but they probably have to use 
English anyway).

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

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