Avoidance variants

Mark E. Shoulson mark at kli.org
Thu Mar 26 18:20:18 CDT 2015

On 03/26/2015 01:14 AM, Jonathan Rosenne wrote:
> “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.

Good enough point.  And I suppose when people were setting the type, 
they weren't thinking "this is a HEH, I'm just putting a QOF there"; 
they were reaching for the QOF box.  And all the text online also 
supports this point of view.

I guess I was just tinkering with some Hebrew fonts and experimenting 
with making these kinds of "variants" so that the same text could, say, 
be printed both "formally" and "informally".  But that really makes more 
sense as Stylistic Alternates or something, not encoded.


> 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 ידודor ידוהand so on.  There's 
> an example in the paper that shows אלדיםinstead of אלהים.  Much more 
> common today would be אלקיםand 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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