Why do the Hebrew Alphabetic Presentation Forms Exist

Mark E. Shoulson mark at kli.org
Tue Jun 9 07:29:42 CDT 2020

On 6/8/20 10:57 PM, Asmus Freytag via Unicode wrote:
> On 6/8/2020 2:02 PM, Mark E. Shoulson via Unicode wrote:
>> Down to one sentence: until you can talk about which LAMEDs in the 
>> Torah are bent and which are straight, I would expect this to be a 
>> non-starter. 
> The meta issue: how to ensure that texts that have such features (i.e. 
> layout-specific or scribe-specific choice of shapes) can be widely 
> represented in interchangeable digital representations - even if that 
> representation isn't plain text.
> A./
I guess that's what it comes down to.  Unicode is classically concerned 
only with plain text.  Aside from disputes about where "plain text" 
ends, what's to be done with "non-plain" text?  Some aspects of this 
non-plain text, like these scribal choices, obviously feels more 
connected to the abstract text than others, like page layout.  Are these 
part of Unicode's mission?  Should they be?  If not, then what?  You 
*can* represent and reproduce these details by kludges, be they as 
ham-fisted as having two fonts with different LAMEDs and formatting some 
in one font and some in another.  Is that good enough?  Does it mess up 
other things?  And even if it is good enough, does that count as an 
"interchangeable digital representation," that I can send a .odt file 
around?  Things to ponder.


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