Confused by some Hebrew characters

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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:04 am

Confused by some Hebrew characters

Postby J2T » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:32 pm

Hi community,

i have a question related to some Hebrew characters and their different design behavior.

For example i take "Hebrew point sheva" (0x05B0 - 1456)

When i take i.e. Arial and look at this character with MainType i see simple two dots. When i look to the Windows charmap or other tools like Unicode Font Viewer there is a circle direct over the character. This is by the way also in the official Unicode definition for Hebrew.

The same behavior goes for some Arabic characters.

Is it possible that this is a vowel?The way around i can imagine that this depends on the font(design) itselfs. I installed the font from Mike and there are no circles visible with charmap etc. But then the question would still exists why MainType doesn't show circles with Arial and charmap does?!

Anyone who can heads me up?

Thanks a lot,

Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 49
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2002 12:58 pm
Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Re: Confused by some Hebrew characters

Postby Yehuda » Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:57 am

Yes. "Hebrew point sheva" is a vowel sign, and thus inherently defined as a combining character. The circle stands for the letter it combines with.
Yehuda N. Falk
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel

"And because, in all the galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere."
--Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:04 am

Re: Confused by some Hebrew characters

Postby J2T » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:21 am

Thanks for the reply :)

So in this case MainType simply doesn't show the combined letter and charmap etc. does?!Furthermore a font creator is not forced to include vowels?Because as i mentioned the font from Mike doesn't show the vowels too.


Mike Thompson
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 11:10 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Confused by some Hebrew characters

Postby Mike Thompson » Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:45 pm

Its very easy to be "Confused by some Hebrew characters" and for me it's not uncommon.

The "Dotted Circle" is not a part of the Hebrew language however its useful when documenting
the many small Hebrew points (vowels) and accents (instructions on how to chant religious text).
Some of these look very similar to each other but may be used differently, for instance one may be used above
a letter and another below it. So if we display the dotted circle as well, it makes it easier to see which.
When the Dotted Circle appears in a software application it means that some programmer has put it there
with the intention of making it easier for the user.
I looked up the Unicode definition sheets for some of the numerous diacritics used in European languages
and did not see any use of the Dotted Circle. Maybe they just never thought of using it.

The dotted circle can also be displayed when the user types a sequence on the keyboard that the software thinks
is forbidden... but that's a decision for application designers.
Mike Thompson
Hebrew Font Design

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