Avoidance variants

Jonathan Rosenne jonathan.rosenne at gmail.com
Thu Mar 26 00:14:10 CDT 2015

“It's still a HEH, it just looks like another letter, right?” Wrong. It’s a QOF. Just like the p in receipt is a p. Unicode should not concern itself with the reasons words are spelt the way they are spelt.



Best Regards,


Jonathan Rosenne


From: Unicode [mailto:unicode-bounces at unicode.org] On Behalf Of Mark E. Shoulson
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2015 4:31 AM
To: unicode at unicode.org
Subject: Avoidance variants


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?)


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