Yiddish on Classic Mac OS (through 9.2)



NOTE: All of the following is based on excerpts from messages which were originally posted to UYIP (Understanding Yiddish Information Processing). Bertrand Laidain is the creator of the beautiful Yiddish Journal, "Tam Tam" which is completely accessable around the world from France via the web. Please send comments, help notes, and questions to the UYIP Mailing List.

If anyone reading this web page can write up more detailed, clear, step by step instructions for users of Classic Mac OS up through 9.2, please send them to the web page author for inclusion on this site. (The author of this web page is not primarily a Mac user, and is relying on the advice of Mac users such as Bertrand Laidain and yourself!)


Getting Started - The Mac Hebrew Language Kit (HLK)

In order to anything with Yiddish on a Mac, the first thing you have to do is to install the HLK, which comes with the Mac operating system.  A useful help file for installing the HLK was created by Nisus at: http://www.nisus.com/Products/NisusWriter/Support/Tips/languagekitsOS9.asp

Click here for additional instructions (in PDF format) provided by Apple in their knowledge base website. (If you have any trouble reading this file, you need to first go to www.adobe.com and download the free version of the Acrobat reader.)

And if you also know French, click here for another help file, written in French, about the Mac Hebrew keyboard, by our friend Bertrand Laidain.


Yiddish Email:

It appears that in order to send and recieve Yiddish text email using Unicode, all Mac users must install the Hebrew Language Kit. Then, download the free Internet Explorer for the Mac, from the Microsoft web site, which comes with Outlook Express. Click here for notes in this User Guide for how to configure Outlook Express for sending Yiddish Unicode email. The exact procedures may vary slightly. (Outlook Express, PowerMail http://www.ctmdev.com/, and Magellan http://www.makienterprise.com/magellan/magellan.html are the only currently known programs which perhaps can be consistently used by a Mac to send and receive Yiddish email.) The separate commercial word processing program, Nisus Writer, is needed only for advanced word processing functions, but not necessarily for Yiddish email.

Note: Yiddish email sent and received with Mac OS 9.1 and 9.2 was recently believed to be compatible with Windows; however compatability problems remain, which UYIP is trying to resolve. Earlier Mac OS versions are mostly, but not completely, compatible; i.e., certain letters (e.g., pasekh-tvey-yudn) will not appear correctly accross platforms (between Mac and Windows).

Word Processing:

It appears that the only word processing program which handles Yiddish on a Classic Mac OS is Nisus Writer: http://www.nisus.com/Products/NisusWriter/   No version of Microsoft Word for the Mac is compatible with Hebrew/Yiddish, even Word 2001. Advantage: You can create standard YIVO orthography in very sophisticated documents which are professional in appearance with Nisus Writer, in Yiddish. Disadvantage: Nisus Writer is not Unicode UTF-8 compatible. It has a proprietary format. This means that you cannot share Yiddish text electronically with Windows users.

Nisus Writer Classic is not compatible with OS X, but if you install OS X (e.g., 10.2 or higher) with the appropriate installation option, you can keep Classic Mac OS 9 on your computer along with all your old files. Then, it is a simple click away to run "Classic Mode" (i.e., OS 9) within OS X. At that point, you can run Nisus Writer in OS 9 inside of OS X in Classic Mode, in order to edit documents which were created in an earlier OS on Nisus.

Alternatively, if you have enough power and memory in your Mac to upgrade to OS X, you may wish to consider that, to have more options; i.e., for Unicode Yiddish text.

Keyboard Issues:

Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 16:13:54 +0200
To: uyip@world.std.com
From: Bertrand Laidain <kaetber@cybercable.fr>
Subject: Re: farbeserter onvarf - onheybers oysblik
Reply-To: uyip@world.std.com

In reply to:

<Call to MAC Nisus Users: ...We need to know whether or not Nisus [Classic] supports phonetic and/or customizable Yiddish keyboard layouts.>

It's a difficult question :  yes and no.

With the Hebrew Langage Kit you have the standard Hebrew keyboard (Israeli), the Hebrew for powerbook (same as Isreali except for numbers), and two "phonetic" keyboards, one based on the US keyboard (Hebrew qwerty), one based on the French keyboard (Hebrew azerty).

And with a resource editor like ResEdit or Resorcerer you can create your own keyboard file, with ONE problem, in the MacOs nikud and rafe are 0 width character so you can't assign one key for komets alef or pasekh alef (no problem for pasekh tsvey yudn it's a predesigned character) or fey or veys, you have to type two keys; with this exception you can create any keyboard you want. People from Apple said once in this list that with the ATSUI technology (in MacOs 9) it should be possible, and I asked how but never got an answer...


Unicode (UTF8) on the MAC:

"And for the conversion in UTF8... you can do it, just save a plain text file in Nisus, and you can convert it to UTF8 with Applescript or with a freeware called Cyclone. The problem is like this it's not maximaly decomposed for certain characters, so for example pasekh tsvey yudn encoded in UTF8 in a Mac should be OK, but not on windows." / Bertrand

This illustrates the current problem with Unicode. The Unicode that you get after converting from a MAC will not display Yiddish properly on Windows and vice versa. So, for the time being, it defeats one of the primary reasons for using Unicode - universal compatibility across platforms. Also, you cannot generate Unicode directly with the Nisus word processing software, although it can be derived by using another program.


MAC Nisus Yiddish Text to IBM Formats &/or to Unicode:

In theory, one should be able to convert Yiddish text created on a Mac with the Nisus program to one of the IBM formats or to Unicode. However, click here to read about the current issues surrounding that task.


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