Typing Hebrew

So, yesterday I upgraded from Ubuntu 7.04 to 8.04. When I was back on 7.04 I was able to type Hebrew characters as well as Greek characters with accents, breathing marks, etc. Given my status as a student and aspiring Biblical scholar, such abilities are a must for my operating system.

My only problems were that the keymaps for both Greek and Hebrew seemed a little…odd. So, when I installed 8.04, I wanted to at least attempt to find a more intuitive keymap. Ubuntu now comes standard with a Biblical Hebrew keymap (located under “Israel” in the keyboard selector). However, the keymap appears to be less than finished; or perhaps I just couldn’t figure it out. Regardless, it was not the intuitive keyboard for which I was hoping.

If I may digress a bit, intuitive, to me, has to do with sound. For instance, patach and kamets should be mapped to the A on my keyboard. Final letters should be, generally speaking, typed by using shift+.

After a bit of googling, I found exactly the thing I wanted. Even more amazingly, is the work of Vern Poythress! I didn’t even know the man used Linux, let alone made keymaps for it. Interestingly, the article linked above is new as of this month (Aug. 2008). Anyway, I had already installed SBL Hebrew, and so it was simply a matter of copying the keymap files to the correct places (a fairly easy operation, made even easier by the walkthrough provided), and selecting them using the Gnome keyboard selector. Now I can type in Biblical Hebrew (including accents and vowels) as well as Polytonic (ie, classical) Greek with ease.

Mandy is again jealous that I use Linux. Her response when I began typing Joshua 1.1 in Hebrew, with CTL enabled in OpenOffice; “What?! You don’t have to type backwards?” No. No I don’t.

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8 thoughts on “Typing Hebrew

  1. Calvin have you used Shibboleth yet by Logos? I have found this to be a very helpful tool; however, I don’t know if it is compatible with Linux.

  2. If Mandy is running Windows, all she has to do is install the Hebrew Keyboard under Regional and Language Settings in the Control Panel. Boom. Bob’s your uncle: Types backwards, works in every windows app, etc.

  3. Adam, it’s a neat concept, but I prefer things mapped to my keybaord–I can type faster that way. Besides, it’s not available on Linux. Which is the only thing I don’t like about Linux; no decent Bible software (Accordance, Bibleworks and Logos have all ignored the ridiculously small Linux market).

    Jim, I think Mandy tried that at somepoint, but still had problems. My guess is she wasn’t using a Unicode font at the time. Nevertheless, I plan to get her setup all nice before the semester starts. Apparently she’s been typing her Hebrew backwards because she can’t get Right to Left text input working (ie, if she wants to type אמר she would type reshmemalef in that order. So…yeah.

  4. I love my Mac, but you make me miss the days we used to spend geeking around in the basement of the lab. Maybe I should install Ubuntu in a VM to play with it.

  5. Yeah, I did install all the language stuff for XP. Problem is, half the time Word wouldn’t recognize that I had it set to Hebrew, and then it would switch words around after I had typed them, occasionally it would just switch back to English right in the middle…I eventually decided that it was easier just to type backwards than fight with Windows about it.

    However, Calvin seems to have it working now, and I am very grateful! It will be much easier to type in the right direction.

  6. Seeing that it doesn’t work on your Linux it is kinda pointless, but Shibboleth is mapped to the keyboard as well (I just don’t tend to use that functionality much).

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