Position of Upper Taamei Mikrah

gohebrew's picture

I am creating a set of OpenType fonts for professionally typesetting Biblical Hebrew.

Unlike previous generations of computer-based typeface software, placement of upper taamei mikrah (or taamei mikrah positioned above the Hebrew aleph-beis characters) is no longer determined by the user of the left-to-right typesetting program. Even is cold-type, hot-type, or even computer-based film-type, placement was determined by the operator annd/or the typesetting program. The actual typeface was passive, and did not determine the exact positioning of the various diacritic markings, such as the nikkud, the taamim (trop), the meteg, or the shva-nah, etc.

However, in the newest generation of Biblical Hebrew typesetting, the operator/typesetter and/or the typesetting program does not determine the placement of the diacritic markings. The actual well-crafted OpenType Biblical Hebrew font determines the placement of the diacritic markings.

Since that is the case, I seek to know if there is a rule or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah.

I have noticed in pre-computer age Biblical Hebrew books of the Hebrew Bible, the placement of upper taamei mikrah were often determined by where they would fit best. In most post-computer age Biblical Hebrew books of the Hebrew Bible, many recent books have made the placement of upper taamei mikrah on the far left hand side of Hebrew aleph-beis characters, in order to allow certain symbols to be placed above the Hebrew aleph-beis characters in the center.

It seems then that there are no hard rules or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah. Or, the earlier typesetters or typeface creators/programmers simply were unaware of any hard rules or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah.

Does anybody know if there are rules or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah? Pease share them with me, or inform me of the contacts with the appropriate scholars who do know.

Similar, I am interested in the various rules for shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, hataf komatz gadol, and any other grammaticalrules governing Hebrew.

david h's picture

> It seems then that there are no hard rules or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah.

Where did you get that?

> Similar, I am interested in the various rules for shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, hataf komatz gadol, and any other grammaticalrules governing Hebrew.

There are a lot of books about grammar. But how & when to use/apply the rules -- that's another story.
What do you know?

gohebrew's picture

>> > It seems then that there are no hard rules or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah.

>> Where did you get that?

Actually, I do not know if there are no hard rules, or there are in fact hard rules, but earlier typesetters were simply unaware of them.

When it comes to the subtleties of Hebrew glyph placement, Hebrew grammar rules and their use/application, these are subjects generally out of the realm of graphic art and typesetting.

Furthermore, about one hundred years ago, mainstream Judaism preferred to discourage widespread knowledge of these topics, as they were areas of knowledge known best to maskilim (opponents of mainstream Judaism). In this way, people who were maskilim could be easily identified (by their knowledge of these topics), as theor outward appearance was similar.

As a ressult, unfortunately, most people, including great scholars, no longer are familiar with these topics.

gohebrew's picture

>> > Similar, I am interested in the various rules for shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, hataf komatz gadol, and any other grammatical rules governing Hebrew.

>> There are a lot of books about grammar. But how & when to use/apply the rules — that’s another story. What do you know?

There are many books on the basics of Hebrew grammar. What I seek is not basic. I don't seek the definitions of these forms, such as, shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, hataf komatz gadol, etc.

As you write, I seek "how & when to use/apply the rules".

I seek to better understand these rules, the conditions of their use and application, in order to incorporate them into the OpenType Hebrew fonts I am creating.

For example, John Hudson created the excellent SBL-Hebrew OpenType Biblical Hebrew typeface, and incorporated the Hebrew grammatical rule of the furtive patach into the font.

One vowel in Hebrew is the patach, pronounced AFTER the Hebrew letter positioned above it with an "ah" sound. However, if the patach is position above the final Hebrew letter of the word, and that final Hebrew letter is either a Ches or an Ayin, then its positioning in under the extreme left side of the Hebrew letter. This indicated to the reader that the patach is not pronounced AFTER the Hebrew letter, but instead BEFORE the Hebrew letter.

Tis kind of patach is called the furtive patach. Whether the typesetter or user knows this Hebrew grammar rule of not, the furtive patach automatically appears of the condition arises. I seek to do the same thing regarding other Hebrew grammar rules, wherever possible.

david h's picture

> Whether the typesetter or user knows this Hebrew grammar rule of not, the furtive patach automatically appears of the condition arises.

Well, let's see several examples.

Furtive Patach is relatively simple since we know that there are 3 gutturals.
The Rule:
Furtive patach is an a vowel that is added to the 3 gutturals: het, he & ayin only when it's preceded by a vowel other than a — you don't want to apply the rule to any word-final het, he & ayin.
Now, you want to read the Bible; find the words; apply the rules ; build an OT feature — how many substitution? 100? 200? 1000?

Meteg
There are 10!!! different kinds of metegs!!! You want to read the whole bible;find the words with meteg;apply the rules, build an OT feature — how many substitution? 500? 1000? 2000? Just for one mark!?!?

Dagesh:
Let's see the next sample — Genesis 1: 11. The word peri (fruit; mentioned 200 times, more or less) + dagesh. One of them is
punctuated with dagesh hazak. So, just for one word! + one mark you want to have 200 substitutions?

I don't think so. This is a HUGE task!!!!

gohebrew's picture

I don't believe it is necessary for an OpenType Biblical Hebrew font to have contextual processing look-ups for every use of dagesh.

It would be great for an OpenType Biblical Hebrew font to have contextual processing look-ups for every use of meteg, but I believe that the current version of OpenType, MS VOLT 1.3, and Adobe InDesign CS3 ME could handle that much processing.

A huge data base has already been created with every occurance cited. So, that aspect is not the hurdle.

Perhaps, instead of character placement, ligature replacement could occur instead, causing metegs to be added to the text that doesn't have it. I think it would reduce the processing workload. But again I think this is beyond the limits of the software involved.

Where it could be implemented is by shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, and hataf komatz gadol, because their occurances are much fewer than meteg.

david h's picture

Israel, you need to read between the lines. I'm talking about efficiently!!!

> Perhaps, instead of character placement, ligature replacement could occur instead, causing metegs to be added to the text that doesn’t have it

Sorry. But you can't hijack registered features (ligature) to do this; Since when alef (or any letter) + meteg = ligature?

> Where it could be implemented is by shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, and hataf komatz gadol, because their occurances are much fewer than meteg.

Well, let's see. There are...something around, or over 2,000!!!! words with kamats katan. Sheva — I don't want to think about the number.

> I seek to know if there is a rule or wisdom governing the correct positioning of the placement of upper taamei mikrah.

And what about the lower marks?

gohebrew's picture

> And what about the lower marks?

Traditionally, they have been placed like graphic symbols aligned to the nikkud on the right side, with a slight space to separate them, and a meteg (if necessary) on the left side, with a slight space to separate them.

Regarding the upper taamei mikrah, traditionally they have been centered above the Hebrew letters.

This poses a problem regarding the shvah-nah, as two graphic symbols can not take up a single space. Plus, with variable character widths, this was too difficult to program in a font in the pre-OpenType days. So, the upper taamei mikrah were simply placed on the extreme left.

However, if the upper taamei mikrah are placed according to the way they are chanted, perhaps their placement varies.

Perhaps, similar rules apply to lower taamei mikrah, as you half seriously imply.

Btw, David, I think shva-nah, komatz katan, and hataf komatz katan, is doable through font-based ligatures, not through OT/VOLT replacements, although I agree that its not practical or efficient as you describe it for meteg.

Anyway, I will know OpenType and MS VOLT's limitations better by next month.

In the Talmud we learn that when one knows well the limitations that one deals with, then the fun begins, creative work arounds, etc. I don't give up easily.

david h's picture

Israel,

I didn't say to give up, or don't be creative. It's just way way way too much.

JCSalomon's picture

 Some years ago, Yannis Haralambous created a Biblical Hebrew typesetting package called Tiqwah and Alan Hoenig created Makor, both based on TeX. The papers I linked to have discussion of font design and niqud/ta'am placement.
 John Hudson's Hebrew font he designed for the SBL also shows the results of research in this direction; you might ask him for pointers.
—Joel

gohebrew's picture

I am working together with John Hudson, who I respect very highly for both his excellent Hebrew type design and well thought out nikkud/taam placement knowledge.

The issue we are groping in the sequences when narrow Hebrew letters like vohv or yuhd appear before left aligned Hebrew letters daled or reish, and sets of taam/nikkud/meteg appear under them.

As you can picture, very little space exists, and bumping or overlapping occurs, if we apply the same default nikkud/taam placement rules as in other combinations.

If course, as the professional Hebrew typesetter knows, this can be addressed and corrected through kerning, where the bumping or overlapping is removed by nudging different elements.

The question is how to best incorporate these personalized tweakings into the OpenType Biblical Hebrew font as a sub-set of instructions, so that the inexperienced user will enjoy this knowledgeable result automatically.

Like including a furtive patach-like instruction for shvah-nah, or for komatz katan, I believe this too can be incoporated into the well-made OpenType Biblical Hebrew font.

david h's picture

> so that the inexperienced user will enjoy this knowledgeable result automatically.

So, let's say I'm the inexperienced user; don't have any knowledge about nikkud + cantillation — what exactly I'm going to enjoy? Why do I need an automatic font? Why do I care about what is kamats katan or gadol?

david h's picture

> Like including a furtive patach-like instruction

As I said before. The furtive patach isn't an automatic, unless you are going to "feed" the font with 2,000 !!! words, or more with the furtive patach + the exceptional. The same thing with kamats katan — more than 2,000!!! words + the exceptional. The same thing with shava — 5,000, 6,000...who knows the number.

gohebrew's picture

> Why do I need an automatic font?

Everybody wants to what's right. Nobody likes to do something incorrect, and have others say that there is mud on my face.

As users of Biblical Hebrew, be it the well read Reform Jew, the yeshiva bachur/student, or the Catholic Bible student, learn that that there is a correct way to display Biblical Hebrew text, and there is an incorrect or sloppy was to display Biblical Hebrew text, they will of course desire to correctly Biblical Hebrew text.

If this can be done automatically because the OpenType Biblical Hebrew font thoughtfully and carefully made, the user will want such an automatic font.

gohebrew's picture

> Why do I care about what is kamats katan or gadol?

Again, I truly believe that as people, particularly children, become increasingly knowledgeable about rules of Biblical Hebrew grammar, then these issues will become increasingly important. As a result, we will care a lot about displaying Biblical Hebrew text with a kamats katan or gadol.

It is because we don't know these Biblical Hebrew grammar rules well that we don't care so much about displaying Biblical Hebrew text with a kamats katan or gadol.

gohebrew's picture

> As I said before. The furtive patach isn’t an automatic, unless you are going to “feed” the font with 2,000 !!! words, or more with the furtive patach + the exceptional. The same thing with kamats katan — more than 2,000!!! words + the exceptional. The same thing with shava — 5,000, 6,000...who knows the number.

You are speaking about the vocabulary, and see therefore it as an impossible hurdle to overcome.

I understand that there are basic Biblical Hebrew grammar rules which cause a kamats to be kotan or gadol, or a shah to be nach or nah. Hence, it doesn't have to be impossible to hurdle.

You might be right, but I think it's worth the effort to explore. Don't you agree?

gohebrew's picture

A shvah nah is usually depicted by a small asterisk floating above the Hebrew character, somewhat like one of the upper taamei mikra.

If so, then when we apply the rule of shvah nah to Biblical Hebrew, how can one of the upper taamei mikra be positioned in the same space as the shvah nah?

I spent quite awile and researched each time shvah nah appeared in the Five Books of Moses, in the fantastic work of the modern day Jerusalem publisher Rabbi Winefeld. Each time, shvah nah appeared, there never was one of the upper taamei mikra. Rather, each time shvah nah appeared, there was only one of the lower taamei mikra.

This is not only good news from a typesetting placement point of view, but seemingly teells us aldo that there is a logical relationship in the Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules for shvah nah and the taamei mikra.

JCSalomon's picture

 I notice that the most recent Unicode standard includes distinct “qamats" & “qamats qatan" characters. I've also seen a larger sheva used for sheva nah in a recently-published Tikkun Korim; perhaps this can be an alternate representation of <hebrew letter>+<sheva>+<rafe>.
 The automatic recognition of kamats katon & sheva nah is enticing, but I believe grammarians disagree on some of the finer points (pun intended).
 As far as your observation that sheva nah & upper taamim do not coincide, did you notice if perhaps the word has a different niqquda used if it's in a position within a sentence requiring an upper taam? (Similar to the way the word "מִצְרַיִם" Mitsrayim (Egypt) becomes "מִצְרָיִם" Mitsroyim at the end of a sentence.)

—Joel

david h's picture

Let me address this issue one more time. And this is my last word.

Let's keep in mind that you're talking about an automatic font, and not just diacritic positioning, right?

1. My bad. I didn't ask you for a sample (or two, or three) with the incorrect way to display Biblical Hebrew text, as you wrote. Do you have it?
Here, to my left, I have a Huge selection of the Hebrew Bibles. Well, I don't see any sloppy way, or something so awful. Of course, If we are talking about Bibles from the 1930s, 1940s etc etc — there're things to improve. But again there's nothing so so awful. The master work is — without doubt — the bible Jerusalem Crown.
Even Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) is fine — and this bible is fully loaded with errors all the way from here to Australia.
Prayer books — I don't see the sloppy way. Of course, there are good publishers, and there are good "publishers".

2. > particularly children, become increasingly knowledgeable about rules of Biblical Hebrew grammar

Next to the Bibles I have the tons books, textbooks about grammar, cantillation etc etc. I'm looking at one of them. This is a textbook + cd (junior high). I don't see any sloppy way. This book is really & truly great; from a to z, or alef to tav. No sloppy, or shompy. The important aspect of this book is the approval!!!
The book is approved by the most important figures in the religious world: Rabbi Sraya Devlitzky (Bnei Brak) & Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Jerusalem). I don't know if you're familiar with Rabbi Devlitzky, or Rabbi Yosef . But when the say it's OK, it isn't just OK — it's perfect OK! So, don't worry too much about the education!!! You need to be around those kids and see how they read/chant, and what they know about grammar. Moreover, there are tons of CDs/DVDs/softwares with voice + color. I don't see why they need any automatic thing.

3.. > You are speaking about the vocabulary

Again, you need to read between the lines Israel :^)
This is not just a matter of vocabulary. Any automatic thing needs to address the differences between The Leningrad Codex & The Aleppo Codex. Do you understand the scope of that?

4. > A shvah nah is usually depicted by a small asterisk floating above the Hebrew character, somewhat like one of the upper taamei mikra... is a logical relationship in the Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules for shvah nah and the taamei mikra.

Truly & honest — I don't have a clue what are you talking about. What is exactly the essence of this latest discovery?

Good luck.

gohebrew's picture

David,

When I bemoan the incomplete knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules as a insulting comment that there is a widespread lack of knowledge. Thank G-d, many of those who love the study of the Bible in its original know many Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules.

Yet, as in kabballistic literature there is a discussion that the truly wise person realizes that as he or she knows more and more, in truth they know less and less in relationship to how much knowledge there is to know. There is no limit of how much infinite wisdom one can optain; the more you know, the more you realize that there is so much more to know.

Reb Ovadiah Yosef Shlita will be the first to say this. The other great scholar and leader I di no know. As you remember, Reb Ovadiah was a past Chief Rabbi (Sephardic) of Israel in the late '70s. He has a huge following in Israel today.

Regarding the sleuth of Hebrew Bibles that are seemingly incomplete, with the exception of Rabbi Winefield's Shai L'Morah series of books, including the Tanach, the shvah-nah (and usually the komatz katan and hataf komatz katan) does not appear.

This is clearly a lacking, as a few books of the Rishonim (early rabbinic authorities, like Rashi and Maimonides) document these Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules, and preceded the invention of the printing press by over a hundred years.

JC,

I agree there are different definitions of the rules for shvah nah. (The solution is to have different fonts for different folks; just like some like chocolate, and others like vanilla.)

I think either definition is doable. Hopefully. It's certainly worth a good college try.

I think that David thinks it impossible, so it's not worth trying.

gohebrew's picture

When I bemoan the incomplete knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules as a insulting comment that there is a widespread lack of knowledge.

============== should read ============

When I bemoan the incomplete knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules, IT IS NOT as a insulting comment that there is a widespread lack of knowledge.

gohebrew's picture

> I don’t see why they need any automatic thing.

No one explains on any product not only the various views of shvah-nah or even a single view of shvah-nah. All I have heard is how a set of Hebrew letters are pronounced with shvah-nah and with an ordinary shvah.

We may have tools to help us chant the taamei mikra, for ones bar mitzvah for example, but the correct typographical placement is not taught.

Just because chanting is being addressed even creatively does not excuse the fact we are ignorant of this aspect of Jewish tradition. The way we address an aspect of ignorance regarding an important part of Biblical Hebrew is not with making excuses and pointing to other great achievements; The way we address an aspect of ignorance regarding an important part of Biblical Hebrew is by replacing the ignorance with knowledge experience.

gohebrew's picture

> This is not just a matter of vocabulary. Any automatic thing needs to address the differences between The Leningrad Codex & The Aleppo Codex. Do you understand the scope of that?

I don't get how slight differences in the Biblical Hebrew, about 10 to 15 Hebrew characters has to do with the creation and inclusion of automatic Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules for (two or three kinds of) shvah-nah, and komatz katan (and hataf komatz katan), like SBL-Hebrew's automatic Biblical Hebrew grammatical rule for furtive patach.

gohebrew's picture

>>> A shvah nah is usually depicted by a small asterisk floating above the Hebrew character, somewhat like one of the upper taamei mikra...

> Truly & honest — I don’t have a clue what are you talking about.

The shvah-nah is graphically represented in many books which feature nikkud, such as the siddur or Jewish prayerbook, or hagada (Passover seder text), by a small asterisk over Hebrew letters that have a shvah (such as the books published by Kehos, the Chabad-Lubavitch publisher), or a straight thin horizontal line over Hebrew letters that have a shvah (such as the books published by ArtScroll, the world's largest Jewish commercial publisher). I am unsure what JPS does. Rabbi Winefield's Shai L'Morah publishing house uses a circle around a small asterisk (to draw greater asttention to the symbol for shvah-nah.

gohebrew's picture

> As far as your observation that sheva nah & upper taamim do not coincide, did you notice if perhaps the word has a different niqquda used if it’s in a position within a sentence requiring an upper taam?

Your questions get me to think, what are the different functions of upper taamei mikra and lower taamei mikra. I am certain there is an explanation which sheds light on all these questions and observations.

gohebrew's picture

To John Hudson,

Unlike the furtive patach, or the folded ayin or lamed, or the truncated final chof or truncated final chof, which are mainly typographical issues (although thefirtive parach does limited grammatical impact), the shvah-nah, or or the hataf komatz kayan, are in deed full Hebrew grammatical symbols based upon Hebrew grammatical rules.

As such, they should have their own Unicode values, like the komatz katan, shnah, or any nikkud or taamei mikra.

True, there are different graphic symbols which Hebrew publishers have depicted the shvah-nah (at least four kinds of glyphs), bit all agree that a shvah-nach and shvah-nah are distict elements in Hebrew grammar.

I have chosen to make this a public record to encourage your respected status among the Unicode Consortium to do the right thing asap, so that my OpenType Biblical Hebrew fonts may incorporate the entire body of Hebrew glyphs, and that Unicode support Hebrew completely.

david h's picture

I think that my point is clear. So the automatic font vs. regular font — that's was my final word. Other things, subjects you're most welcome!

--------------

I don't understand the nature of that defensive mood? (When I bemoan the incomplete knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules..... ). Why did you say that?

You said:
I spent quite awile and researched each time shvah nah appeared in the Five Books of Moses, in the fantastic work of the modern day Jerusalem publisher Rabbi Winefeld. Each time, shvah nah appeared, there never was one of the upper taamei mikra. Rather, each time shvah nah appeared, there was only one of the lower taamei mikra.
This is not only good news from a typesetting placement point of view, but seemingly teells us aldo that there is a logical relationship in the Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules for shvah nah and the taamei mikra.

And I said:
Truly & honest — I don’t have a clue what are you talking about. What is exactly the essence of this latest discovery?

Why I said that?
Let's have an example, explore your source: Shay La'Morah . BTW, which one do you have -- Shay La'Morah with Keter Torah, or Shay La'Morah with Rashi commentary?

Exodus 17: 12.
Word # 1: indeed there's a circle around a small asterisk + shva na + lower cantillation mark.
Word # 2: the word is punctuated with shva na! + upper cantillation mark!
Word # 3: the word is punctuated with shva na! + upper cantillation mark!


And this is only one little sample. There are more words. Tons!

I didn't say " Each time, shvah nah appeared, there never was one of the upper taamei mikra". We need to have some responsibility, right?

david h's picture

Edit:
sorry. my bad. and without the Edit feature..... This is the right one:

Exodus 17: 12.
Word # 1: indeed there's a circle around a small asterisk + shva na + lower cantillation mark.
Word # 2: the word is punctuated with shva na! + upper cantillation mark! Without the custom mark (a circle around a small asterisk).
Word # 3: the word is punctuated with shva na! + upper cantillation mark! Without the custom mark (a circle around a small asterisk).

gohebrew's picture

> I think that my point is clear. So the automatic font vs. regular font — that’s was my final word. Other things, subjects you’re most welcome!

"You say 'toe-may-toe' and I say 'toe-mah-toe'" - Billie Holiday song

I'm a Lubavitcher Chassidic Jew. People often accuse us of attributing messianic status to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, even after his demise. They often ask, "If somebody else declares himself the long awaited messiah, could you accept him?" I say, "Gladly."

If the kind of OpenType Biblical Font which you call 'regular', I can make 'automatic', could you, David, accept it?

gohebrew's picture

> I don’t understand the nature of that defensive mood? (When I bemoan the incomplete knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules..... ). Why did you say that?

I am not being defensive.

I am trying to very carefully show that utmost respect for great leaders and everyday folks who do have a knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules.

Yet, there is so much more to know, so much so, that this that we do know now is insignificant by comparison with how much we don't know yet, and have still to uncover and know.

By having this honest attitude and realistic realization about what is still lacking, then we are capable of learning more.

But if we feel about ourselves and others, that we know it all, then we are not capable if learning more, because we won't even try, as we think that we know it all.

Do you understand me now?

William Berkson's picture

So what's true:

"Each time, shvah nah appeared, there never was one of the upper taamei mikra" or not?

Kibbitzing minds want to know :)

gohebrew's picture

> Why I said that?
> Let’s have an example, explore your source: Shay La’Morah.
> BTW, which one do you have — Shay La’Morah with Keter Torah, or Shay La’Morah with Rashi commentary? etc.

One of my sons learn at a high school/yeshiva where Rabbi Winefield's (the author and publisher of the Shay La'Morah series)son is the administrator. When his son was born, Rabbi Winefield flew in for the brit-milah celebration from Jerusalem. In honor of the event, he gave all the participants a set of the 5 Books of Moses with Rashi. I don't know what is the Keter Torah edition.

Rabbi Winefield is not only a very learned writer, but a great scholar and well versed in the Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules. He applied one kind of rules for shvah-nah rules, which are usually applied for post-Biblical rules, to the text of the Bible.

I believe no one has done this before. Are you aware of this being done in any other Bible?

gohebrew's picture

> Exodus 17: 12.
Word # 1: indeed there’s a circle around a small asterisk + shva na + lower cantillation mark.
Word # 2: the word is punctuated with shva na! + upper cantillation mark! Without the custom mark (a circle around a small asterisk).
Word # 3: the word is punctuated with shva na! + upper cantillation mark! Without the custom mark (a circle around a small asterisk).

You can certainly find examples that I overlooked. More power to you. However, here was not the case (G-d does not want to fling mud in my face!)

In the two examples that you cite, there is no shvah-nah.

According to the Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules for shvah-nah employed by Rabbi Winefield, Kehot (the huge Chabad/Lubavitch publishing house), and ArtScroll (the evedn huger and largesy Jewish publisher in the world), there is NEVER EVER a shvah-nah under the first letter of a Hebrew word.

I believe you are confusing an ordinary shvah (which inmdicates to the reader ti make a very short sound of the consonant above it), and a true shvah-nah ( is a series of two sounds, a continuation of the consonant/vowel combination of the set in the Hebrew letter BEFORE the Hebrew letter with a shvah under it, AND ALSO the short sound of the Hebrew letter with a shvah under it.

In your example from Exodus 17:12, the word with a shvah-nah is pronounced "tam-meh-chu". If it were only an ordinary shvah, it would be pronounced "tah-meh-chu".

The reason why the latter two examples did not have a graphic symbol indicating a shvah-nah, a circle around a small asterisk, is because the shvah is an ordinary one, and not a shvah-nah.

gohebrew's picture

Wllliam,

In my limited experience, I still have not discovered a shvah-nah in a place belonging to an upper taamei mikra.

This makes me suspect that there is a relationship between the appearance of a lower taamei mikra and the appearance of a shvah-nah, making the rule in Hebrew grammar even tighter, and hence easily to implement as an automatic feature in carefully crafted OpenType Biblical Hebrew font.

This is unlike David's assumption, that because the shvah-nah will appear a lot, it can not be incorporated as a rule in an OpenType table in an OpenType Biblical Hebrew font.

John, what do you think?

JCSalomon's picture

 My $0.02: An initial sheva is always¹ nah, so it is simply not indicated.
 Also, Israel: I think you might be confusing the effect of sheva nah with that of the strong dagesh=mapiq (or weak dagesh; I can't recall which). To abuse the word, Example 1 as written “תָּֽמְכ֣וּ” would be pronounced "tam-chu"; if written “תָּֽמְֿכ֣וּ”, "ta-mə-chu"; if written “תָּֽמְּֿכ֣וּ”, "tam-mə-chu". (Of course there are grammatical rules that say which pronounciation to apply to the unpunctuated word “תמכו”, and not every version is possible.) Also, the sign above the sheva in the printed version is not what I'm used to seeing to indicate sheva nah: usually I see “מְֿ” (mem+sheva+rafe) rather than what looks like “מְ֯” (mem+sheva+masora-circle).
 At any rate, I think a font is the wrong place for sheva nah/nach detection. An external program can me much more intelligent & customizable to different rule-sets, while leaving the correct layout to the font.
 (Furtive patah might be an exception: I believe the word “נֹחַ” (Noah) is supposed to be encoded nun+holam+het+patah rather than “נַֹח” (nun+holam+patah+het); but detecting {ayin, het, heh+mapiq}+patah+word-end is relatively simple. John's font does something like that, I believe.)
Shabbat Shalom/Gut Shabbos and fast easy on Sunday,
—Joel

1. Almost always; I’ve heard a theory that the sheva at the begining of the word “שְׁנַיִם” should be nach, but I don't know how much credence to give it.

david h's picture

Israel,

What is your aim with this thread? A week ago, more or less, you said that you don't know grammar. Now you are an expert?

Here's your list, if you don't remember:
"Similar, I am interested in the various rules for shva-nah, shva-nach, komatz katan, komatz gadol, hataf komatz katan, hataf komatz gadol, and any other grammatical rules governing Hebrew."

> According to the Biblical Hebrew grammatical rules for shvah-nah employed.....there is NEVER EVER a shvah-nah under the first letter of a Hebrew word.

Here's the deal — otherwise don't waste my time. Please. OK?

whenever you are going to talk/post/state anything and everything about grammar, rules etc etc — post a proof; source; link; an image.
Let's start with the new "rule":
"there is NEVER EVER a shvah-nah [ nah=nun, ayin] under the first letter of a Hebrew word."
Please post the name of the book. Grammar book!!!

> According to the Biblical Hebrew grammatical....
Where? Who? When? What? Why?

Please: to the point. No stories.

And please read the classic work (part of it). Otherwise don't waste my time. Really.

1. Aharon Ben Asher — Diqduqe Hate'amim (Dotan Edition, 1967, 3 vol. about the shva start with pages: 29, 31-37, 76, 114, 126, 127, 189-191, 251-253).

2. Judeo-Arabic treatise Hidayat al-Qari.

3. David Kimhi (RaDaK) — Michlol , Sefer Hashorashim

4. Norzi

5. Ibn Janah -- Sefer Ha-Riqmah.

gohebrew's picture

JCSalomon,

Thank you for your two cents... I have change of a nickel, if you want. I love to get rid of my pennies, those wretched useless things.

Well, you say with absolute certainty that an ordinary shvah at the beginning of every word is always nah (nuhn + ayin). I say with absolute certainty that an ordinary shvah at the beginning of every word is always nach (nuhn + chet - a furtive patach, David?).

What ia nah, and what is nach, you might wonder? Pray tell, whar is the meaning of this?

Nah means "moving", because it's transitionary between one letter before and the letter above it. I hope I'm right. Is G-d getting that mud ready to fling at my face?

Nach means "resting" or "stationary", because it only sit under and effects the pronunciation of the letter above it. Anyway, that's what I was taught (is the mud dripping down my shirt?).

A proof can simply be found among the largest sets of Hebrew books with nikkud, the books of Kehot Publishing Company and that of ArtScroll/Mesorah, where no graphic symbol indicating a shvah-nah is ever used above the first letter of a Hebrew word indicating a shvah-nah and not an ordinary shvah.

On the other hand, you seem to understand the terms shvah-nah and shvah-nach differently than me. How do you understand it?

gohebrew's picture

> At any rate, I think a font is the wrong place for sheva nah/nach detection. An external program can me much more intelligent & customizable to different rule-sets, while leaving the correct layout to the font.

I agree with you, and I disagree with you. (something admitting my lacking in knowledge of Hebrew grammar rules, while at the same time allowing myself to represent having some expertise in the subject). To me it's not a contradiction.

I agree with you, regarding rules like dagesh, meteg etc., which should be delegating to the text entry and Unicode values.

I disagree with you, regarding rules like furtive patach, shvah-nah, and maybe even kametz katan.

This is because if we delegate them to text entry and Unicode values (assuming shvah-nah gets a Unicode value, John), the hell will freeze over before the Tanach gets this stuff put into its data. Besides, most people (including both of us, David) don't know our shvah-nah, and maybe even kametz katan.

Hence, the simple easy and quick way is font-based.

gohebrew's picture

> What is your aim with this thread?

My aim is include the typographically related issues of shvah-nah, kametz katan, and hataf kametz katan, to the creation of a carefully and intelligently crafted OpenType Biblical Hebrew font.

Just like an amperstand is a vital part of every font, what is correct Biblical Hebrew in the Tanach, if shvah-nah, kametz katan, and hataf kametz katan, are missing?

It makes us look like "the people of the comin book"!

gohebrew's picture

> A week ago, more or less, you said that you don’t know grammar. Now you are an expert?

Boy, I thought type designers had creative, flexible thinking.

It is explained by the Rebbe Reshab in the famous series of discourses called "Ayin-Beis" that the sign of a wise person is the ability to tolerate two opposites in his or her mind.

Patiently, they consider how both ideas are true, and discover a novel way of understanding them that people didn't consider before.

To address your question, just because you tell others that you lack COMPLETE knowledge in a certain field, does not mean there are areas of knowledge in that same field that are "givens" for you, and you express them like an expert.

In my humble limited view, I don't think anyone alive today is an expert in Biblical Hebrew grammar. They all died and were buried.

gohebrew's picture

> whenever you are going to talk/post/state anything and everything about grammar, rules etc etc — post a proof; source; link; an image.

Excellent suggestion.1

1. Laws of Derech Eretz; Pirkei Avot - Talmud

gohebrew's picture

> 1. Aharon Ben Asher — Diqduqe Hate’amim (Dotan Edition, 1967, 3 vol. about the shva start with pages: 29, 31-37, 76, 114, 126, 127, 189-191, 251-253). etc. etc. etc.

I am very impressed with your collection of books, and I am even more impressed am if you know them too. Few people have personal libraroes at their disposal with great collections of Hebrew books. My oldest son has a father-in-law that surely has at least double of what you have. In fact, I'll ask him if I could borrow these books.

> 1. Aharon Ben Asher — Diqduqe Hate’amim (Dotan Edition, 1967, 3 vol. about the shva start with pages: 29, 31-37, 76, 114, 126, 127, 189-191, 251-253). etc. etc. etc.

Are all of these on Biblical Hebrew grammar?

I was told that there is also a view in a respected book on Biblical Hebrew grammar that shows how every Hebrew word that has a shvah at the beginning of that word, then that shvah is in deed a shvah-nah, just like JCSalomon suggests, and you cite from Aharon Ben Asher.

However, this view appears not to be followed by three major Jewish publishers, Kehot, ArtScroll, and Shay LeMoreh. Apparently, it is a valid opinion, but not widely accepted and used. Hence, if I would include in an automatic OpenType Hebrew font one rule for shva-nah or another, I would choose the widely accepted and used rule, and save the other room for a chat on Typophile.

1. Logical deduction - Human brain.

gohebrew's picture

> ...don’t waste my time...

You reminded me of a line from a popular Dylan song:

"You just were wasting my precious time

Don't think twice, it's alright"

David, I enjoy when you read and offer an insight. But no one is compelling you to read and waste your time.

Perhaps, what I am saying contradicts a statement which you made.

Don't get riled over that. There are much more pressing issues to get riled about.

William Berkson's picture

More observations from the kibbitzer.

According to what I was told the shva under a first letter is always a schva na, and so should be transliterated in English with an 'e'. But in fact Hebrew speakers today seem to avoid a spoken 'shva' whenever possible. Thus it's normally said "bracha" (blessing) and not "beracha." Though if you are singing or pronouncing it slowly a native might pronounce the shva, right?

The reason I say all this is that for the poor learner like me it's hard to tell what the heck is going on.

I mention this because when you go to Biblical marks of vowels and cantillation, nobody knows what exactly was in the heads of the masorites who did it, as far as pronounciation. And we have different histories of ashkenasi, sfardic, yemeni, iraqi, etc. pronunciations of Hebrew just to confuse us further in trying to think about these issues.

So wouldn't just leaving the masorite marks as is, admitting we don't exactly know, be a better course of action, rather than trying to create a system of pronunciation that is not modern, nor do we really know whether it's ancient?

I mean, Avot also says that the wise person when he doesn't know says, "I don't know."

Shabbat Shalom

gohebrew's picture

William,

Regardless of my perceived expertise, or ignorance (whatever it may be), I also never know what's going on. Btw, which way does the wind blow?

I also searched on the Internet, and consulted knowledgeable friends (the very best source [everyone should have a Poindexter as a friend]), and the view stated emphatically that whenever there is shvah under the first letter of any Hebrew word, it is in fact a shvah-nah (and doesn't have any graphic symbol.

Yes, I was wrong. I admit it, the great me was wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

As I wipe the mud away from my face, the grammatarian in me hides his face in shame, but the typesetter and type designer in me boldly declares, that the first letter of any Hebrew word that a shvah appears under it NEVER EVER has a graphic symbol indicating it is a shvah-nah, even though it is on deed a shvah-nah.

Confusing? I dunno. I don't even know which way the wind blows.

Ah hah. I am wrong, but I am right!

Toe-may-toe, to-mat-toe. The automatic OpenType Biblical Hebrew font still breathes; it's not dead yet. Maybe, it never will be.

Shabbat shalom. For those that fast, have an easy fast!

david h's picture

Joel, I didn't see your post.

> An initial sheva is always¹ nah
Yes, you're right. This is the rule #1; every book will start with this rule. Here's a sample ( with nikud, since I know that a lot can't read without the nikud):

> so it is simply not indicated.
Indeed. That's the reason. This shva is the easy one. And it dosen't matter if we are talking about Modern or Biblical Hebrew. Things are more complicated, or there's a controversy (well, there's more than one) if we are talking, for example, about initial shva + meteg. This issue is part of the well known controversy between ben Asher and ben Naftali -- Kitab al-khilaf (edited by Misha'el ben Uzziel). This is Hebrew-Arabic text:


> I’ve heard a theory that the sheva at the begining of the word “שְׁנַיִם” should be nach, but I don’t know how much credence to give it.
Not a theory, but there's a controversy. But with the word shetayim, sheteym 'esre etc etc. Prof. Blau talked about that issue.

-------------

>waste time.....
since sometimes this is like a conversation (deaf + blind) without language. I didn't say that I know everything. But when I don't know I'll never say that I know; If I'm not sure I'll say that. And you're saying that I don't know. And keeping saying:
"there is NEVER EVER a shvah-nah [ nah=nun, ayin] under the first letter of a Hebrew word."

----
Edit: and I didn't see your last post Israel, too.

david h's picture

> Are all of these on Biblical Hebrew grammar?

I was told that... and you cite from Aharon Ben Asher.

Well, yes. Grammar is grammar. But they are not "How-To" books :^). For example, Ben Asher does not give you an A-To-Z list;
He didn't write a concordance of the Bible :)

Shabbat Shalom

david h's picture

Now that the wind is calm; Tisha Be'Av is over.........

> But in fact Hebrew speakers today seem to avoid a spoken ’shva’ whenever possible. Thus it’s normally said “bracha” (blessing) and not “beracha.”

Right. And one more example: ge-do-lim -> gdo-lim. That's the spoken Hebrew. And I think that the “tam-meh-chu” or “tah-meh-chu” is more an issue of the spoken Hebrew/tradition, since this word is composed of 2 syllables.

> And we have different histories of ashkenasi, sfardic, yemeni, iraqi, etc. pronunciations of Hebrew

True. For example, the kamats katan which was never part of the Tiberian vocalization system.

Don't forget that we're talking about Biblical grammar. That said, nikud + cantillation! We need to be aware of the fact that (just several examples of course) 1. a secondary merekha could change shava nah (nun, het) to shava na (nun, ayin);
2. a meteg could change shva nah to shava na;
3. an etnachta could change shava to segol
etc etc etc etc.

(I'm talking about the same word!)

gohebrew's picture

David,

> Don’t forget that we’re talking about Biblical grammar. That said, nikud + cantillation! We need to be aware of the fact that (just several examples of course) 1. a secondary merekha could change shava nah (nun, het) to shava na (nun, ayin);
2. a meteg could change shva nah to shava na;
3. an etnachta could change shava to segol
etc etc etc etc.

From where do you derive this from?

Your conclusions seem to be based on certain rules. Did you see these conclusions made in Shay LeMoreh books of Tanach (I have never seen shvah-nach and shva-na in any other Bible).

david h's picture

> From where do you derive this from?

The moon :^)

We studied that since..... but see for example Rabbi Menachem ben Saruk -- Rashi frequently followed ben Saruk; Aharon Ben Asher — Diqduqe Hate’amim; Norzi etc etc etc.

> Did you see these.....

You don't expect me to list every sample etc etc. The word keli (tool;utensil; weapon; etc etc etc): the base form of this word is shva na + dagesh; hiriq.
Sample1: Num 19: 15


Sample 2: 2 Kings 4:6

Check every bible. Let us know.

gohebrew's picture

David,

It seems from your examples and citings that your conclusion that under certain conditions, taamei mikra affect nikkud, even causing some shvah-nachs to become transformed into shvah-nahs.

Does this occur on reverse? A shvah-nahs to become transformed into shvah-nach?

Can you find an example, and then look it up in Shay LeMorah, and see whether Rabbi Winefeld replaces this too with a graphic element (the circle with a asterisk)?

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