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NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems

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You are here: Encoding > Unicode
Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/Meteg_intheBHS

Meteg and Siluq in the BHS

Joan Wardell and Christopher Samuel, 2003-09-30

Meteg is a single stroke mark in biblical Hebrew. It is identical in form to siluq (or silluq) and this discussion refers to both as meteg. The printed Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), shows several different placements of the meteg. This was handled in the Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC) (Michigan-Claremont encoding) by three codes: 35, 75, and 95.

Only one meteg was defined in the SIL Ezra Standard Encoding (SE): d149, and placement was accomplished by varying the order of the meteg with the other marks.

Unicode 4.0 also defines one meteg, U+05BD. Because of the many positions of meteg in the text, it is difficult to encode them all with a single code point. Varying the order with other characters is at odds with Unicode recommendations, however it is necessary to accomplish the numerous positions of meteg. In the chart below are listed one example each of known placements of meteg.

Code 75 (left meteg) is the most common meteg encoding, and normally is placed as shown in examples 1 and 2. In the rare occasions when it occurs with another low cant on the same consonant, 75 is coded either before or after the other mark, as in examples 3 and 4. In the special case of Jerusalem and related words, it occurs between two vowels, as in ex. 5.

Code 35 (medial meteg) is used specifically for meteg with hataf vowels — hataf-segol and hataf-patah, ex. 6,7. In the rare occasions where meteg is printed either to the left, ex. 8 or right, ex. 9 of a hataf vowel, this is indicated by codes 75 or 95, rather than 35.

Code 95 (right meteg) identifies meteg which is placed in the unusual position of preceding a vowel, ex. 10. This commonly occurs on the first syllable of a word, but can also occur medially, ex. 11.

One method of dealing with the problem was used in version 1.0 of the Ezra SIL fonts. These fonts expect the text to vary in the placement of the one defined meteg. In addition, two additional meteg characters were defined in the Private Use Area, and the Ezra SIL fonts have these two characters. However, the use of the PUA will make this solution inaccessible to most users and should no longer be used.

In version 2.0 of the Ezra SIL fonts, the PUA characters were removed and the different placements of meteg were accomplished by means of control characters. Unicode 4.1 now makes specific recommendations relating to meteg, so for version 2.5 of the Ezra SIL fonts the recommendations are as follows:

  • right meteg - meteg + CGJ1 + vowel
  • medial meteg on hatafs - hataf + ZWJ2 + meteg
  • left meteg on hatafs - hataf + ZWNJ3 + meteg
  • left meteg on other vowels - vowel + meteg OR vowel + CGJ + meteg

It is hoped that this method will be adequate for most users. However, a good typesetting program may be the best solution for good typography of meteg in biblical Hebrew.

The control characters, CGJ, ZWJ and ZWNJ, are not required to represent meteg unless the user wants to preserve the positional information. If this is not an issue, then the font default order may be used. In the case of Ezra SIL, this is – vowel (including hatafs) + meteg

Ex Position Reference Example in WLC Example in Hebrew Occurrence
1 centered alone Exo 20:1:6 L")MO75R00 common
2 after vowel 1 Kgs 1:3:7 WA75Y.IM:C:)81W. common
3 before cant Exo 20:4:1 LO7574) rare
4 after cant Exo20:2:8 (:ABFDI9275YM00 rare
5 between vowels 2 Chron 14:14:9 Y:RW.$FLF75IM00 common
6 medial with hataf 2 Chron 32:15:22 ):E35LOH"YKE80M common
7 medial with hataf 1 Kgs 6:22:8 ):A35$ER-LAD.:BI73YR common
8 left of hataf Psa 50:21:5 H:E75YOWT-)E75H:YE71H rare
9 right of hataf Psa 85:7:1 H:A95LO)-13)AT.FH rare
10 before vowel, first syllable Exo 20:4:2 TA95(:A&E63H-L:KF7174 common
11 before vowel, word-medial Deut 22:26:1 W:LAN.95A(:ARFH03 rare
12 after vowel and accent Psa 2:3:1 13N:75NAT.:QFH occasional

Positions of the Mark Meteg in Biblical Hebrew

Page History

2008-03-31 JW: reviewed
2007-06-15 LP: updated for Ezra SIL 2.5

2003-09-30 JW: Page creation


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1 CGJ is Combining Grapheme Joiner, defined in Unicode 4.0 at position 0x034F
2 ZWJ is Zero Width Joiner, defined in Unicode at position 0x200D
3 ZWNJ is zero-width non-joiner, defined in Unicode at position 0x200C

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