Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Hebrew Display Issue

Recently in the Apple Discussions a user had some problems making Hebrew Final Kaf plus Sheva display correctly. Getting this right requires that the font have enough smarts to combine the two characters involved (U+05DA and U+05B0) properly, putting the Sheva inside the Final Kaf instead of just underneath its vertical stroke, as is done elsewhere. Apple's Hebrew Qwerty keyboard layout also requires that you type Shift + k to get Final Kaf rather than just Kaf. This graphic shows how different Hebrew fonts I have on my Leopard system render it in TextEdit. Unfortunately 4 of the 5 supplied by Apple don't do a good job.

7 comments:

Aaron Solomon Adelman said...

That's nothing. Try Hebrew with cantillation marks in Safari (e.g., at http://www.mechon-mamre.org/c/ct/c0101.htm). The results are truly atrocious. I'm hoping that they got this issue (finally) fixed in Snow Leopard, but I'm not holding my breath. I may well be still using Mellel for quality Hebrew typography.

Tom Gewecke said...

I don't expect much from Safari, because you can't control the font being used. In a Word Processor you can, of course, but that doesn't help much of most of the fonts provided are not well made.

Eugene Rabina said...

As mentioned, this Final Kaf problem is a relatively minor one.There are also more serious issues; for example, in certain fonts, the addition of vowel marks to a letter causes the letter AND it's vowel(s) to disappear entirely, without a trace that you even typed them (or tried to read them in Safari/Firefox).

For example, when combining the letter Vav with the vowel mark Holam (the ligature of a Vav combined with a Holam is U+FB4B in unicode), the result in most built-in Mac fonts (like Arial or Arial Hebrew) is that the letter disappears without a trace.

This is especially frustrating on websites that use these fonts (and there are many). In order to make them readable you have to change your browser's (universal) font settings!

Tom Gewecke said...

Eugene -- are you also talking only about browser behavior? Do you find this problem in TextEdit or other Word Processors?

at the edge said...

Maybe you'd know. I need to display simple Hebrew text, no dots or anything. How can I assure that most of the latest browsers display the letters correctly? My data comes from a UTF-8 encoded file. Is there anything I can do beyond the meta tag - which does NOT solve my problem?

Tom Gewecke said...

at the edge -- I don't understand what kind of problem you could have with browser display of Hebrew if your code includes the right meta charset tag. Email me with details (tom at bluesky dot org).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I was having a tough time trying to figure out how to get the final Kaf and Sheva to display correctly. At least you pointed out that it was a font display problem. I thought I was doing something wrong.

Thanks again!
-- Andrew