Avoidance variants

Mark E. Shoulson mark at kli.org
Wed Mar 25 21:49:31 CDT 2015

On 03/25/2015 10:40 PM, Andrew Cunningham wrote:
> Or is it a markup issue rather than something for plain text?

Maybe, but it doesn't really seem so.  There's no such thing as plain 
text on paper (once it's printed it's arguably formatted somehow), but 
looking at all the examples it seems to be happening in contexts that 
are as plain-texty as you could wish for.  Blocks of boring plain text, 
no italics or effects any more complex than justification, simple notes 
written all in one font with no formatting to speak of etc.  For that 
matter, there's all the existing plain-text-encoded cases I mentioned, 
using actual QOF letters instead of HEHs in undeniably plain, electronic 
text.  Maybe it would make more sense to encode such texts as they are 
written (using QOF codepoints, etc) and have the markup indicate that 
it's a HEH in disguise.  But that doesn't gain us anything in terms of 
standardizing the spelling, so to speak, to have the same text/word 
represented with the same letters in different representations.


> On 26 March 2015 at 13:30, Mark E. Shoulson <mark at kli.org 
> <mailto:mark at kli.org>> wrote:
>     So, not much in the way of discussion regarding the TETRAGRAMMATON
>     issue I raised the other week.  OK; someone'll eventually get to
>     it I guess.
>     Another thing I was thinking about, while toying with Hebrew
>     fonts.  Often, letters are substituted in _nomina sacra_ in order
>     to avoid writing a holy name, much as the various symbols for the
>     tetragrammaton are used.  And indeed, sometimes they're used in
>     that name too, as I mentioned, usages like ידוד or ידוה and so
>     on.  There's an example in the paper that shows אלדים instead of
>     אלהים. Much more common today would be אלקים and in fact people
>     frequently even pronounce it that way (when it refers to big-G
>     God, in non-sacred contexts.  But for little-g gods, the same word
>     is pronounced without the avoidance, because it isn't holy.  It's
>     weird.)
>     I wonder if it makes sense maybe to encode not a codepoint, but a
>     variant sequence(s) to represent this sort of "defaced" or
>     "altered" letter HEH.  It's still a HEH, it just looks like
>     another letter, right? (QOF or DALET or occasionally HET)  That
>     would keep some consistency to the spelling.  On the other hand,
>     the spelling with a QOF is already well entrenched in texts all
>     over the internet.  But maybe it isn't right.  And what about the
>     use of ה׳ or ד׳ for the tetragrammaton? Are they both HEHs, one
>     "altered", or is one really a DALET?  Any thoughts?
>     (and seriously, what to do about all those tetragrammaton symbols?)
>     ~mark
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> Andrew Cunningham
> Project Manager, Research and Development
> (Social and Digital Inclusion)
> Public Libraries and Community Engagement
> State Library of Victoria
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