indication of sheva na/nach qamats rahav/qatan

Typograph's picture

I have seen different aproaches for sheva na and qamats qatan indictions.
1. A mark above (a circle, MAGEN DAVID or a Rafe) the letter
2. A bolder (somtimes squer) Sheva than the useal.

As a type designer a don't like the aproach of using uncommon symbols.
and more so misusing a symbol that indicates RAFE for indicating Sheva Na

As a designer i don't like the bolder or squer sheva that makes the text look not good.

in this discotion I would like to hear your opinions about this matter with tour reasoning.

Or in simple words
What in your opinion is the best way of indicating Sheva na, Qamats Qatan & dagesh Hazaq.

gohebrew's picture


Are you serious?

There are then 5 dageshes.

One dagesh, which is encoded in the Unicode, and is generic.

A second dagesh is kal,
a third dagesh is chazak,
a fourth dagesh is mavhin,
and a fifth 'dagesh' is actually a mapik.

Can you define each?

Bill, is this in Chomsky's book?

gohebrew's picture


I acquired Sefer Yesod ha-nikud (Hebrew Edition) from Amazon (very inexpensive). Which books are from the Minchat Shai and Rabbi Eliyahu HaBachur about shvah-na in particular?

gohebrew's picture

Sefer Yesod ha-nikud (Hebrew Edition) is by Rabbi Zalman Henna

raphaelfreeman's picture

>When the book was in progress, I shared it with Raphael, who thought the difference wouldn’t be noticeable, but we now have the evidence of over 150,000 satisfied users, including a large number of rabbis and other learned types. Feel free to judge for yourself:

but how many of the 150,000 customers even know what a kamatz katan is! Obviously everyone on this forum will be able to distinguish it, but normal people?

Koren's kamatz is more noticable in my opinion, yet I know people who just can't see the difference.

raphaelfreeman's picture

I understand your argument about the patach ganuv under the ayin, but then again, I bet everyone still mispronounces the patach ganuv under the mapik heh :-)

gohebrew's picture


Is a patach ganuv another name for a furtive patach?

I prepare work on a shul's private siddur and used the furtive patach. It was well-received. When you educate anyone, the response is generally positive.

So, the Koren Siddur has both the shvah-na and the kamatz katan.

Can you scan and post each glyph?

raphaelfreeman's picture

yes, the patach ganuv is the same as the furtive patach.

The Koren siddur indicates:
kamatz katan
shva na
mileil by use of a meteg
patach ganuv

gohebrew's picture

The furtive patach or patach ganuv is defined here:

A patach on a letters ח, ע, ה at the end of a word is sounded before the letter, and not behind. Thus, נֹחַ (Noah) is pronounced /no-ax/. This only occurs at the ends of words and only with patach and ח, ע, and הּ (that is, ה with a dot (mappiq) in it). This is sometimes called a patach g'nuvah, or "stolen" patach (more formally, "furtive patach"), since the sound "steals" an imaginary epenthetic consonant to make the extra syllable.

raphaelfreeman's picture

yes, it is more correct to call it a patach gnuva, but most are quite sloppy and call it patach ganuv. It's like the word for afternoon day care in Israel. Everyone calls it tzaharon although technically it should of course be pronounced tzohoron (or tzahoron if you are Sepharadi).

gohebrew's picture

In Volt, the sequence and processing of GSUB look-ups is crucial, as it's as they say, 'first come, first served'.

Hence, I understand with comments, the order of the GSUB look-ups should be:

Dagesh chazak and dagesh kal,


Kamatz katan and kamatz gadol,


Shvah-na and shvah-nach.

Now, the patach was said to have two more forms, too. Please explain, and if possible show examples.

David, you said that there are two forms of dagesh:

Dagesh havahin and mapik.

Similarly, I have heard that there are many forms of meteg:

Meteg and siluk.

Metek hamafsik? sof-pasuk? and others?

Please elaborate.

Typograph's picture

GoHebrew, From this last post (And others) It seems that you don't know the basic terms.
but yet, you consistly claim that it can be done in volt.

I allready suggested before "jump into the cold water and solve dificulties as you go along."
OR, First getdown your fundamentals. then you will understand your by your self the broblems you are going to encounter farther on in the project.

I would Check first Dageshim Then sheva's the qamats qatan.
But qamats qatan and shevas work together so you hav to check these both together back and forth.

In volt it's not a matter of just one lookup do all.
you do a check after check where every check norrows down posibilities
So you are checking Sheva and qamats again and again.
because each New lookup can effect somewhere else somthing you hav allready checked before.

Patach as one form only (Patach Genuva is distinguished at the position Like Holam Haser) you don't need an alternate glyph for Patach.

Also Mapik is a normal dagesh kal, and you don't need an alternate glyph.
Mapik is a He + Dagesh Now we all now that Alef,He,Het,Resh Don't get a dagesh so any dagesh on this letters are Mapik.

If you want to go creazy about all these stuff then according to some you also have SHEVA MERACHEF.

Meteg does not need an alternate glyph because two metegs don't come on one word.

So if i Let say a qamatz (gadol) and Meteg, I won't insert another meteg for mileil or Milera.


gohebrew's picture

>> Meteg does not need an alternate glyph because two metegs don't come on one word.

I disagree. Why?

The appearance of a meteg and a silug is different (the silug is longer than the meteg), although Unicode encodes them with the same code value.

They represent different functions, and look different. Hence, they deserve to have their own Unicode code value.

Typograph's picture

You know GoHebrew, you are hilarious.


Show me one case anywhere, where you have 2 Metegs on one word....

Typograph's picture

You can have cases that you hav A sof-Pasuk With a meteg.
Or a mafsik, and a meteg Like In Shmuel B Chapter B\12, ממחנים, so under the first you hav a mafsiq and the second is a meteg.

but 2 metegs on one word????

gohebrew's picture

>> You know GoHebrew, you are hilarious.


Show me one case anywhere, where you have 2 Metegs on one word....


I didn't say that.

I disagree with your reason and justification that there only is one Unicode value for meteg, and none for a silug etc.

gohebrew's picture

We need 2 or more Unicode slots for a meteg, a silug etc etc.

Not because since two metegs never overlap...

2 kamatz never overlap, two vovs etc., yet the UTC understoond that we need a slot for a regular kamatz, and another one for kamatz katan, and the same for the vov etc.

Typograph's picture

A unicode of qamats qatan and holam haser is there because there is a standard of how to differentiate between them.

but there is no standart of how to differentiate between Sheva Na and Nach Or Meteg and Siluk ect'

They are not going to assign a unicode value just because there is a grammer differentiation.

but you can certainly have a font make this differentiation if someone types a double meteg.

gohebrew's picture

>> but there is no standart of how to differentiate between Sheva Na and Nach Or Meteg and Siluk ect'

Please define standard.

I believe the UTC never responded to an additional meteg proposal, and heard over the past three years there will be a shvah-na proposal. They are not opposed, as these are valid requests.

The short-coming is that certain Hebrew enthusiasts are timid or defeatists, as the Torah compares them to grasshoppers. (weak-willed)

Typograph's picture

Standard means somthing that every one does the same.
a qamats qatan in most productions i saw, is a lowerd qamats.

indication of sheva na, i saw
A Magen David, A Rafe, An asterisk, above the letters.
a squered or larger dots.

gohebrew's picture

there are two things
kamatz gadol and kamatz katan

these are firm ideas defined in hebrew grammar by the radak

his definition is interpreted in 3 ways:
minchat shai
r. zalman henna
r. eliyahu bachur

raphael claims there are others:
chaim pupek

the first three have graphic symbols associated with
m.s. has shai l'moreh's asterisk with a circle around it
rz"h has kehot's asterisk
re"b has artscroll's rafe

raphael said someone has a magen david
i think the israeli navy

the baba sali had bolded dots

they are two different matters:
the hebrew grammar of a shvah-nah, and
the various graphic symbols

david h's picture

> raphael said someone has a magen david
> i think the israeli navy


That's a good one :)

gohebrew's picture

ת ו ד ה

david h's picture


> David,
> Are you serious?

Re: Dagesh Mavhin

Well, we coined the term דגש לתפארת הקריאה from something, no? not the air :)

Even, the Babylonian Masorah/Tradition has a dagesh mavhin which aim was to draw attention to some words that might be misunderstood ,or sometimes to indicate negative meaning, or just to indicate a different meaning.

This dagesh was very common with the name Elohim אלהים. That said, when the verse was about just any  Elohim then the letter alef was with dagesh &  the letter lamed with raphe;  any other Elohim -- the alef was with raphe & the lamed with dagesh; but when both the alef and lamed were  with raphe then we're talking about G-D. In other words, there was a distinction between hol and kodesh.

Moreover, this will explain Targum Onkelos:  The Decalogue, Exodus 20:  elohim aherim אלהים אחרים is אלהא אחרן , whereas Leviticus 8: 19  elohim aherim is טעוות עממיא, or דחלן. Again, there is a distinction between hol and kodesh when writing Elohim

But the question is why do we need to encode it? what is the right/correct pronunciation? do we know it?

gohebrew's picture


As always, what you write is an interesting lesson.

Summary, you are saying that the term 'Dagesh Mavhin' is actually a shem hamushal שם המושאל 'a borrowed term' for a function unlike an actual dagesh (kal or chazak).

The hol/kodesh matter is an application of this borrowed term.

A borrowed term is not a shem haetzem שם העצם its actual meaning.

Can't we encode simply to teach or warn, for we do not intent the encoding to be actual?

david h's picture

very important: I didn't say that the Tiberian Tradition is Identical to the Babylonian Tradition!

gohebrew's picture



What are you referring to by saying this: "I didn't say that the Tiberian Tradition is Identical to the Babylonian Tradition!"

david h's picture

> Summary, you are saying that the term 'Dagesh Mavhin' is...

used to distinguish or divide. In-between (kal & hazak).

gohebrew's picture


I think you are saying that it's much more than a shem hamush-al שם המושאל?

quadibloc's picture

As for which pronunciation is "right", I thought it was well known that in the "right" pronunciation, 'Aleph is a glottal stop like 'hamza or the picture of a vulture, and `Ayin is a... oh, dear, I forgot... ah, a "voiced pharyngeal fricative"... like `ayn or the picture of a forearm.

One just tries, as best one can, to reconstruct how the Hebrew language was pronounced three to five thousand years ago based on the archeological evidence.

This thread helped me update my page that I've just started to help me quite understand what is being discussed here - I had been using the terms I found in the really old Hebrew grammars in the public domain on Google books, and so from this thread, I was able to Google up some web pages with which to associate the proper Hebrew terms with the half-Hebrew/half-Latin terms I had been using.

quadibloc's picture

One possibility, which would throw tradition to the winds, I fear, would be to leave dagesh kal and mappiq alone, but to indicate dagesh hazak in an entirely new way: by two (perhaps short and heavy) horizontal lines placed where rafe would go.

This would allow dagesh hazak and dagesh kal to be both present at the same time, so that either form of the consonant could be doubled.

In dealing with qamatz katan, however, tradition suggests the way to resolve the ambiguity.

Sometimes, matres lectionis are not available to distinguish between the two kinds of hireq, or between qibbutz and shurek. In those cases, one could put a tiny yod or waw above and to the right of the character. Thus, a tiny aleph in the same position would be the way to indicate qamats katan.

Given that apparently the highly-regarded Koren siddur actually uses a new symbol to indicate qamats katan, apparently modifying the Tiberian system to reduce ambiguity isn't horrifying everyone.

d p's picture

Question for you guys: do you realize that you're talking about things of which you can't even agree how to spell? Looking at the thread it seems like each person has a completely different ways to spell each niqquudh. Is there a Hebrew dictionary that I can reference that gives the Hebrew name for each of these marks in Hebrew?

From my experience with Hebrew, it seems like the language is in a complete state of disarray...almost schizophrenic. It seems like there are dozens of ways to transliterate the simplest words, the niqquudh sometimes don't seem to make sense (which you have addressed to some extent above), I've seen about half a dozen suggestions for how each vowel point should be pronounced, and I have found multiple ways to spell both the letters and the HEBREW and in English.

I would appreciate some help or direction...a source, dictionary, or something that is a reliable source.


quadibloc's picture

Qamatz Katan, however one chooses to transliterate it in English, is קָמַץ קָטָן in Hebrew.

There are old Hebrew grammars in the public domain on Google Books, but they will use old names for the symbols in English. The Hebrew names, even with points, can be found in the Wikipedia article on the Niqqud and the Wikipedia article on Cantillation.

I know some people turn their noses up at Wikipedia, but I find it to be a very good source for many subjects. Since Hebrew isn't written with the Roman alphabet, there are different transliteration schemes, just as there are for Chinese.

d p's picture

Thanks for reply...but I notice that you transliterate the qohpph (qof) as both a q and a k...why? That is both confusing and inconsistant.

d p's picture

I have created a transliteration scheme that allows one-to-one translit from Hebrew to English and back again, using a regular 101 keyboard. No goofy symbols that no one knows, and it facilitates accurate pronunciation. Using my translit method, you can take any Hebrew word written in English and turn it back into pointed Hebrew with nearly 100% accuracy. Anyone can do it, even someone unfamiliar with Hebrew.

I use Wikipedia all the time, but it is also very inconsistent.

gohebrew's picture

I heard a funny joke about the spelling in English of the current Jewish holiday:

חנוכה can be spelled:

1. Chanukah
2. Hanuka
3. Channukah
4. Hannuka
5. Chanuka
6. Hanukah
7. Channuka
8. Hannukah

Are there more?

gohebrew's picture

Wikipedia is made up of seemingly well-researched articles. Consistent naming conventions is not the goal. Accuracy is intended, based upon seemingly valid sources. I have found many errors in Wikipedia, although for the most part it is accurate, and a valuable source of easy-to-access knowledge.

The spelling of nikud and pronunciation varies among traditions, and time periods. The Jewish people embraced different traditions, which spelled some nikud differently, and pronounced then differently as well.

Transliteration has always been handled diversely, as one person's more perfect convention is considered illogical for another person.

In my view, transliteration is a very superficial factor is understand nikud and its dynamics regarding Hebrew grammar.

William Berkson's picture

>From my experience with Hebrew, it seems like the language is in a complete state of disarray...almost schizophrenic. It seems like there are dozens of ways to transliterate the simplest words ...

David, the problems of Romanization are problems of languages written with latin letters, not problems of Hebrew language, contrary to what you say. Hebrew is normally written in Hebrew script, with no reference to latin letters and hence no disarray or schizophrenia. As John wrote, the transliteration of other non-latin scripts have similar histories and problems.

The story of efforts to romanize Hebrew is told in the Wikipedia article on Romanization of Hebrew.

You don't need to re-invent the wheel, as there are several complete systems, as explained in the Wikipedia article. If you want consistent transliteration rules you can pick of the systems in the Wikipedia article. If you use your own, nobody will understand you.

There are complicated reasons relating to tradition and ease of pronunciation for English speakers why many people (including me) don't consistently follow just one of these systems. I can explain these if you like, but in any case you are free to use one of the completely systematic and consistent methods, if that is helpful for your purpose.

gohebrew's picture


The way I understand is that each Hebrew word contains sets of subsequent nikud pairs which render the second one either kal or chazak, depending upon whether the first one is a kamatz or a patach, for example.

Is this correct?

If so, all the nikud must be redefined into two glyph groups, one glyph group for kal nikud, and another glyph group for chazak nikud.

Does this kind of tenuah definition CAUSE a subsequent dagesh in the second letter to become a dagesh kal or chazak?

gohebrew's picture


Can any letter that can have a nikud become dagesh chazak or dagesh kal, or is this applicable only to certain letters?

gohebrew's picture


You said on different occasions that much more can be derived (regarding the shvah-na) from the taam.

Please expand upon this.

My Volt project (based upon technology used by SBL-Hebrew) deciphers both Biblical Hebrew text with or without taamimn, or Hebrew vocalized text with or without meteg.

I want to not only add shvah-nah and kamatz katan to such text, but also what to add meteg as well, to either non-taam text, or to text with taam.

You said that meteg can not be accurately entered. Why?

gohebrew's picture


To summarize:

A tenuah chazakah causes the following to be a dagesh chazak, if that letter has a degesh,

But if the previous nikud is a tenuah katanah, then the following letter is dagesh kal, if that letter has a degesh.

1. How does this relate to a shvah-nah or kamatz katan?
2. Where is this grammatical rule written?

Typograph's picture

>>A tenuah chazakah causes the following to be a dagesh chazak, if that letter has a degesh,

But if the previous nikud is a tenuah katanah, then the following letter is dagesh kal, if that letter has a degesh.


I never said that a dagesh kal or chazak have anything to do with tenua gedola or ketana.

gohebrew's picture

OK, back to step one.

ברוכים הבאים

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