by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/05/23 05:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/05/23/604580.aspx
Ilya Konstantinov asked the following question (or perhaps it would more accurate to say made the following suggestion!) in the Suggestion Box:
This time, I'm contacting you not with a question per-se but rather with a request (which may just turn into an explanation why it's impossible :). I'm wondering whether it's still not too late to add a few characters to the Hebrew keyboard of Vista, characters which were discriminated for far too long.
I'm talking about HEBREW PUNCTUATION MAQAF (U+05BE), HEBREW PUNCTUATION GERESH (U+05F3) and HEBREW PUNCTUATION GERSHAYIM (U+05F4).
The Maqaf is the Hebrew hyphen, and has pretty much the same functionality (connecting two words together) as its English counterpart. It differs from the Hyphen in its drawing style (a dash in the character ascent height, not in the middle height) and has a biblical origin (unlike many other modern Hebrew punctuation symbols, which simply migrated from European languages). It is well-used in Hebrew typography – just pick up any decent book and notice how the hyphens are a tad higher than usual. In online writing, though, it's seldom used simply due to the fact it's not available on the Windows keyboard (Mac Hebrew keyboard actually has it – Alt-Z, I was told). This situation is very similar to users preferring HYPHEN-MINUS over HYPHEN, EN DASH and EM DASH.
The next pet-peeves are the Geresh (Hebrew equivalent of a period in abbreviations – e.g. abbrev.) and the Gershayim (Hebrew symbol symbolizing a sequence of characters is an acronym, placed before the last character in the acronym). Both those characters are usually replaced online with APOSTROPHE and QUOTATION MARK accordingly, simply due to the visual similarity.
Adding those characters to the Windows Hebrew keyboard has the potential of resurrecting them back into the Hebrew online typography. Is it still not too late?
P.S. I've created a custom layout containing them in MSKLC – e.g. [Ctrl]-[Shift]-[VK_OEM_MINUS] for HEBREW PUNCTUATION MAQAF, but Microsoft adding them into the official layout would be so much better.
P.P.S. Another improvement might be adding AutoCorrect rules to Word, just like it has for changing "--" into EN DASHes, but that's a different thing altogether.
This is actually a suggestion that has been made before on occasion, both to colleagues of mine in Redmond like Yaniv and to folks in the MS subsidiary in Israel.
And the fact is that these three Unicode code points:
־ U+05be HEBREW PUNCTUATION MAQAF
׳ U+05f3 HEBREW PUNCTUATION GERESH
״ U+05f4 HEBREW PUNCTUATION GERSHAYIM
are useful in many contexts in Hebrew text, and their replacement by other similar Unicode code points:
- U+002d HYPHEN-MINUS
' U+0027 APOSTROPHE
" U+0022 QUOTATION MARK
is not entirely satisyfing to everyone, but the fact remains that it is a common substitution. And there is really no mechanism to fold them together (which is kind of a problem in search operations. This has led to some real resistance to adding these Hebrew punctuation marks to keyboards shipped to date.
Of course there are other potential solutions that have been kicked around....
For example, there are some who would like to see the problem via Word AutoCorrect style mechanisms that replace the punctuation symbols with their Hebrew counterparts when appropriate.
And there are others who imagine a "digit substitution" style solution that would cause the backing store to always be the standard punctuation but in Hebrew contexts would look more like the Hebrew punctuation.
Of course these alternate ideas have their own problems, too. If this was an easy problem, it would have been solved already!
So the question about whether it is too late for the change in Vista? I'd have to say YES right now, since there has really been no consensus reached on expected behavior....
This post brought to you by "־" (U+05be, a.k.a. HEBREW PUNCTUATION MAQAF)
# Centaur on 23 May 2006 11:56 AM:
# Michael S. Kaplan on 23 May 2006 12:12 PM:
# Mar on 25 May 2006 3:46 PM:
# Haber on 29 May 2006 3:00 PM:
# Michael S. Kaplan on 29 May 2006 3:24 PM:
go to newer or older post, or back to index or month or day