Automatic Shva-na and Meteg Based Upon Context

gohebrew's picture

Advanced OpenType Software Tool, like MS VOLT, can create an automatic replacement of a string of glyphs, and insert a needed glyph, such as a shva-na and a meteg.

As a results, intelligent students can better study the grammatical use and proper placement of the shva-na and the meteg.

At first. I was distracted by seemingly Hebrew experts as to the impossibility of doing this, as the use and placement of shva-na and meteg is purely grammatical, in their minds, and not at all contextual.

So, I consulted with two truly Hebrew language experts, Prof. Aron Dotan of Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv, Israel, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabin of Toronto, Canada, a Lubavitcher chossid. They confirmed that this indeed was possible. Rabbi Rabin warned though that this was very difficult according to the viewpoint of Rabbi Zalman Hanau.

There are basically three schools of thought based upon the writings of the Radak, Rabbi David Kimchi - the father of our understanding of Hebrew grammar. They are:

1. Rabbi Zalman Hanau and most of Jewish thinking until about 225 years ago. The Chabad Lubavitch printing house in the USA, Kehos follows this approach.

2. Rabbi Eliyahu Bachur, and later the Vilna Gaon. The ArtScroll printing house follows this approach.

3. Minchas Shai. Shai LeMorah publishers of Jerusalem, and the Chabad Lubavitch printing house in Israel, Kehos, follow this approach.

gohebrew's picture

So, your Fontographer .ttf worked in Volt?

William Berkson's picture

>What does English Transliteration have to do with Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, or Spoken Hebrew??? We could find sewa, seva, schwa, shva, sheva etc etc.

It depends on your philosophy of transliteration. If you decide that the transliteration should reflect the correct Hebrew pronunciation of the word, then the transliteration will reflect the difference between the shva na and shva nach. Then issues of Hebrew, modern Hebrew, spoken Hebrew will affect decisions on transliteration.

For example in my newly published commentary on Pirke Avot I had to decide on how to transliterate the names of the Tannaim, for which there is no single standard transliteration. So for example אֶלְעָזָר I transliterate as Elazar, rather than as Eleazar. The latter is used more traditionally, and by the Encyclopedia Judaica. But it is confusing to English speakers, as the second "e" transliterates a shva nach, which is silent. And English speakers will first think of pronouncing the combination "ea" as the "ea" in "eat", which is totally misleading. So I transliterate as Elazar. I notice that the new Koren Siddur has made the same choice as I have, transliterating closer to spoken Hebrew.

These are non-issues for Hebrew speakers and readers, but for materials for English speakers they do make a difference.

david h's picture

Eli, Israel

You're welcome. I missed couple things (I'll add them later on)


So do you have a chart of transliteration, telling the readers about your method?

> transliterating closer to spoken Hebrew.

Did you follow the Hebrew Academy?

Typograph's picture

OY VAY, the Hebrew Academy.
i heared they wanted to cancal the qmats and tsere alltugehter.

david h's picture

> I need a compact portable David, ie David in an iPod :)


I'm working on iDavidHamuel

> i heared they wanted to cancal...


Yes, there was an idea to cancel, but I don't know if this is a good idea.

William Berkson's picture

David, what I say is "The Sages' names are pronounced following their pronunciation in Modern Hebrew, except for those with Greek names." And I use the underdot h for chet, kh for khaf.

As far as Hebrew pronunciation, it's just what my Hebrew teacher taught me, a very simple version. I don't think that there's anything complicated about the Sages' names, but I may be wrong. I don't claim to have a system of transliteration that is a model. That it's very close to what the Koren Siddur has done is reassuring.

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