Friday 21 January 2022

Unicode Trivia U+0740

Codepoint: U+0740 "SYRIAC FEMININE DOT"
Block: U+0700..074F "Syriac"

Syriac has got to be one of the dottiest scripts in Unicode. The fact that there's a 232-page book devoted to Syriac diacritics says a lot:


The dot is used for everything in Syriac from tense to gender, number, and pronunciation, and unsurprisingly represents one of the biggest obstacles to learning the language.

Section 9.3 of the Core Specification 14.0.0 gives an introduction to some of these complexities. Within the sub-section concerning exceptions to the diabolical diacritical rules, is this:

The feminine dot is usually placed to the left of a final taw.

This refers to codepoint U+0740 "SYRIAC FEMININE DOT". According to Richard Ishida, this non-spacing mark:

[...] is a feminine marker used with "ܬ" [U+072C SYRIAC LETTER TAW] to indicate a feminine suffix. East Syriac fonts should render as two dots below the base letter, whereas West Syriac fonts render as a single dot to the left of the base.

So far as I can tell, this is the only diacritic currently in Unicode that distinguishes (or elucidates) the underlying word's gender.

Below are variations of "ܩܛܠܬ" (= kill) distinguished solely by diacritics ("ܩ̇ܛܠܬ", "ܩܛ̣ܠܬ" and "ܩܛܠܬ݀") rendered with "Noto Sans Syriac":

Notice U+0740 "SYRIAC FEMININE DOT" at the end (left) of the last line.

[Thanks to Richard Ishida and, indirectly, J F Coakley at Jericho Press]

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