[b-hebrew] Sorting Hebrew

Bob MacDonald bobmacdonald at shaw.ca
Mon Nov 27 22:20:31 EST 2006

One of the technical things that makes life difficult for an English speaker
is the finding of words in a lexicon.  First, some of them are spelt
multiple ways - with and without mater; second, of course, the prefixes make
parsing mandatory before figuring out which initial letter to search under.
In this area Joel Hoffman's recent note on plurals and future and persons
was very helpful.

But the worst aspect of the BDB is that several words are not in what an
English speaker would consider a natural order at all - loads of them
beginning with Mi and variations appear in almost every section of the
alphabet, (one gets used to a large exception) but now - for Psalm 89, the
word TBL is listed for whatever reason under Yod!

What is going on in the minds of those who sort the fiery letters? Any
clues?  Of course I won't mention the ubiquitous Strong numbering system
that reduced many English clerics to lunacy when teaching what little they
learned in their three week mandatory Hebrew courses.

I wrote a quick and dirty algorithm to derive a root from a word in the
psalms. This combined with a random search mechanism helps me find what I
have already 'done'. What a magical forest! I doubt I will ever publish a
Hebrew sort algorithm - but someone must have this trouble today in the
Unicode world.

Did the ancients have a concept of sort? Or even dictionary lookup?


Bob MacDonald
Victoria BC

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