Advanced Rendering of Hebrew and Aramaic Texts on Palm and Pocket PC
We at Olive Tree are excited about new developments in our handling of Hebrew and Aramaic texts. Over the past several months, we have moved to UNICODE!
In recent years, there have been impressive technological advances made for displaying languages like Hebrew and Aramaic with complex scripts, from the establishment and expansion of the UNICODE standard to the development of “smart fonts,” which position the glyphs in a context-sensitive manner. These developments have paved the way for some strikingly beautiful Hebrew and Aramaic fonts, most notably EzraSIL and SBL Hebrew. Handheld devices, however, have sought to meet their tight constraints on speed and storage by excising anything in the operating system that might be extraneous. As such, handheld devices generally do not include complex script support, with some not even supporting UNICODE at all. Thus, in general, Hebrew and Aramaic texts have not been able to be displayed in a manner that takes advantage of these recent breakthroughs in typography.
We are delighted to announce that we have overcome the limitations of the Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems with regard to complex script support! On these platforms, we are able to display Hebrew and Aramaic texts with all the beauty that recent UNICODE-based smart fonts have allowed. This includes our BHS (HMT) module with all of the vowels, cantillation marks, and symbols to which you are accustomed in the print edition of BHS. (Of course, this does not include the critical apparatus, the massora magnum, or the massora parva.) It also includes our BHS Add-On—Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology module, which allows you to click on a Hebrew or Aramaic word, see the lexeme, morphological information, a gloss, and a link to the appropriate entry in an abridged version of the BDB dictionary, one of the finest dictionaries available for Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. We also give independent access to BDB, so you can see the entry for any particular lexeme you would like, or you can browse through entries in BDB.
This new way of representing and displaying Hebrew and Aramaic also applies to our new Qumran (non-biblical texts) module, complete with editorial symbols, lexical and morphological information, a gloss, and a link to the appropriate entry in BDB (provided that you have the BHS Add-On—Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology module). If you missed my blog article on the Qumran texts, you can find it here.
On Palm and Windows Mobile, you can view these Hebrew and Aramaic texts using the EzraSIL font, which looks virtually identical to the printed edition of BHS except that EzraSIL is easier to read when there are multiple marks around one consonant than the print edition is. On Windows Mobile, you have the additional option of downloading the freely available and aesthetically-pleasing SBL Hebrew font and using it as well.
I think that the results of this new way of displaying the texts are really quite stunning, but you do not have to take my word for it. Here are two screenshots for you. The first is a screenshot of our our BHS (HMT) module at Psalm 23, and the second is a screenshot of our Qumran (non-biblical texts) module at column 1, line 11 of 1QS (The Community Rule).