The BHT Transliteration Scheme

 

 

The BHT Transliterated Hebrew Text is a transliterated version of the WTT Hebrew text. The transliteration scheme and database was developed by Matthew Anstey for use in BibleWorks, though it will eventually, it is hoped, be available in other programs. It is intended as a learning aid for students and a mechanism for scholars to easily insert transliterated text into material destined for publication.

 

The BHT database is Copyright © 2001, Matthew Anstey. Copyright is also claimed for future official revisions of the database as released by Matthew Anstey. This database used as its base the CCAT Michigan-Claremont-Westminster electronic database. This was used freely with the kind permission of the German Bible Society. This section is composed of the author's notes on the nature and purpose of the database.

1. The Nature of the Database

 

The Hebrew CCAT database, from which the BHT is derived, contains seven symbols that have been disambiguated in BHT according to a combination of patterns and lists of exceptions. The seven symbols are:

 

75

is converted into a metheg ' | ' or accent 'º'

95

is converted into a metheg ' | ' or accent 'º'

F

is converted into qamats 'ä' or qamats-hatuph 'o'

:

is converted into vocal shewa 'ü' or silent shewa '•'

I

is converted into hiriq 'i' or long hiriq 'ì'

U

is converted into short qibbuts 'u' or long qibbuts 'ù'

.

is converted into a hardening or doubling dagesh. Hardened begadkepat letters are capitalised, and doubled letters are duplicated.


In other words, the BHT database is an *interpretation* of the CCAT database. The CCAT database is an electronic ASCII format of the graphemic representation of the Tiberian masoretic text.

 

2. ASCII codes used in transliteration

 

The policy for transliteration is to use a unique code for each unique use of a grapheme. (It must be noted however that quiescent ´aleph is not used. The transliteration program can easily do this, but little seems to be gained from doing so. )


 

Grapheme

Variation

Ascii Code

Character

Consonant

´aleph

consonantal

180 

´

 

mater

146 

'

beth

soft 

98 

b

 

hard 

66 

B

gimel

soft 

103 

g

 

hard 

71 

G

daleth

soft 

100 

d

 

hard 

68 

D

heh

consonantal

104 

h

 

mater

various

waw

consonantal

119 

w

 

mater

various

zayin

 

122 

z

chet

 

72 

H

tet

 

134 

yod

consonantal

121 

y

 

mater

various

kaph

soft 

107 

k

 

hard 

75 

K

lamed

 

108 

l

mem

 

109 

m

nun

 

110 

n

samek

 

115 

s

`ayin

 

96 

`

peh

soft 

112 

p

 

hard 

80 

P

tsadeh

 

99 

c

qoph

 

113 

q

resh

 

114 

r

sin

 

83 

S

shin

 

154 

š

taw

soft 

116 

t

 

hard 

84 

T

Vowel   

shewa

vocal

252 

ü

 

silent

149 

pathach

 

97 

a

furtive pathach

 

170 

ª

hateph pathach

 

225 

á

qamats

 

228 

ä

qamats heh

 

226 

â

segol 

 

101 

e

segol heh

 

232 

è

segol yod

 

202 

Ê

hateph segol

 

233 

é

tsere 

 

235 

ë

tsere yod

 

234 

ê

tsere heh

 

203 

Ë

hiriq 

short

105 

i

 

long

236 

ì

hiriq yod

 

238 

î

qamats hatuph

 

111 

o

hateph qamats

 

243 

ó

holem 

 

246 

ö

holem heh

 

242 

ò

holem waw

 

244 

ô

qibbuts

short

117 

u

 

long 

249 

ù

shuruq

 

251 

û

OTHER   

unpointed sin/shin

 

74 

J (as in Gen 30:18)

metheg

 

124 

 |

accent

 

186 

º

 

3. Transliteration of TETRAGRAMMATON

 

In terms of combinations of graphemes, if all accents are treated as a single grapheme, there are 45 different ways in which the TETRAGRAMMATON is written in the CCAT database. As an aid for pronunciation, the TETRAGRAMMATON is transliterated consonantally followed by the correct pronunciation in parentheses. Some examples are:

 

           yhwh(´ädönäy)

           yhwh(´élöhîm)

           wlyhwh(wüla | ´dönäy)

           šyhwh(še´ádönäy)     

 

4. BwTransH font

 

Accompanying the database is the BwTransH.ttf font. This font maps the ASCII characters onto a true type font that represents the symbols more pleasantly. The font is designed so that each unique ASCII code has a unique representation. (The only exception to this is that quiescent aleph is identical to consonantal aleph. However, quiescent aleph is not distinguished in BHT. This may change in subsequent releases.)

 

The use of breve, caret, and macron above the vowels is not necessarily a reflection of the quality or quantity of the vowels, as scholars hold different opinions about Tiberian Hebrew phonology. Similarly, the use of superscript waw, yod, and heh is also primarily motivated by visual presentation. Note that no superscript yod is used for hiriq yod or tsere yod. No ASCII symbol or font change is used for the yod in final -ayw or -äyw.

 

As there are many different ways of transliterating Biblical Hebrew, it is hoped that a revised font will be developed that allows the ASCII base to be represented in the format of major transliteration schemes, facilitating the ease and use of BHT.

 

The font is copyright © 2001 Matthew Anstey and BibleWorks, LLC. It may be freely distributed for private use to facilitate the exchange of data, but may not be sold or packaged in commercial products without the consent of the copyright holder.

 

5. Method of transliteration

 

The transliteration method is quite complex and is only explained here very briefly. The most important point is that the method has no access to any lexical or inflectional information pertaining to each word. It relies solely on (contextual) pattern matching and exception lists.

 

The transliteration occurs in four stages:

 

i. All unambiguous accents are reduced to a single ASCII code. Pre/-post- positive accents (except yethiv) are discarded since they do not indicate stress. All non-accent marks except metheg are discarded. Allographemic metheg and silluq are disambiguated. A few unusually pointed forms are in handled as exceptions.

 

ii. The letters and vowels are transliterated. All ambiguous graphemes are disambiguated. Many forms are handled as exceptions, particularly with qamets-hatuph, as this is the grapheme most sensitive to lexical data.

 

iii. Two situations that cannot be covered in stage ii are dealt with: the distinguishing of final consonantal heh with mappiq from final heh as a mater and the yethiv accent placement. (Possibly an improved algorithm could place this stage into stage ii).

 

iv. The final stage tidies up the database. Word-final accents are removed and ASCII codes are converted into the numbers given above, since prior to the final stage it is more convenient to use a different coding system.

 

6. Permission to use and modify the database

 

I have deliberately designed the database so that users may introduce systematic changes to the transliteration if they wish. For example, users are free to delete the silent shewas, methegs, accents, and so forth. They can also search and replace characters to adapt the transliteration to a particular style or font.

 

I request that if the data is used exactly as is, or with only simple search and replace type operations, or with modifications, that acknowledgment be given in something like the following form: "The transliterated Hebrew [used in this book/article/ ...] is from/based on/adapted from/... the Biblical Hebrew Transliterated database (BHT) as produced by Matthew Anstey, copyright 2001."

No modification of the database may be distributed without the written permission of Matthew Anstey. The database may not be incorporated into any product or publication that will be sold, without the written permission of Matthew Anstey.

 

7. Acknowledgments

 

The forthcoming technical description of the database will provide more details as to the sources consulted in the preparation of the database. I wish to acknowledge at this point the many people who replied to my questions posted to B-Hebrew, Hebraisticum, and Miqra, and in particular the dissertation by Henry Churchyard, "Topics in Tiberian Biblical Hebrew Metrical Phonology and Prosodics," Ph.D., University of Texas, May 1999.

 

Dr. Churchyard also provided additional advice via email on various matters, mostly pertaining to shewa. I have adopted many, but not all, of his proposals regarding the disambiguation of shewa. The most important difference is that I take shewa to be vocal after degeminated yod in waw consecutive forms (i.e., orthographic #WAY:C- is transliterated as wayü-...).

 

I also wish to thank Michael Bushell and Michael Tan of BibleWorks for the invaluable assistance their software offers in cross-checking the data, and for their willingness to modify their software to allow me to conduct more sophisticated searches.