I am an english-speaking software developer who has recently added support for the rendering of right-to-left languages in the software I maintain. This involved using ICU to find visual runs of text and convert them from right-to-left to left-to-right to be rendered using Cairo.

I arbitrarily chose Hebrew and Arabic to test the new features and noticed that the final form characters were not rendered by Cairo.

For example the test script contains:

enter image description here

which is rendered as:

enter image description here

with the HEBREW LETTER FINAL NUN character missing.

Is that acceptable?

  • 3
    While it might be readable, it would be as unwanted as an English font that couldn't capitalise a person's name. And it will make your software appear amateurish. So definitely try to support it.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 9, 2021 at 9:02
  • @curiousdannii Thank you. It's good to know at least where you are failing. Please add an answer for me to upvote and possibly accept.
    – trojanfoe
    Nov 9, 2021 at 9:13
  • 6
    Not a huge deal, but the title of this question is slightly misleading. From the was you've phrased the question in the title, it appears that you're asking about the acceptability of writing ראשונ instead of ראשון - i.e. using non-final letter forms in place of final letters. That's a different, and much smaller problem than writing ראשו in place of ראשון.
    – Juhasz
    Nov 9, 2021 at 17:24
  • 1
    Sorry that I wasn't clear. The example you give shows that the software is rendering a word that is missing its last letter. It's rendering only four letters instead of five, i.e. R-ʔ-S-V instead of R-ʔ-S-V-N. But the title makes it sound like a different problem, i.e. rendering all five letters, but the last letter is written with the wrong form. This latter problem - which is not the problem you're having - would be kind of like writing an English word with the wrong capitalization: The United states of America. It's totally readable, but looks sloppy. (cont.)
    – Juhasz
    Nov 9, 2021 at 19:02
  • 2
    @Juhasz Yup it was an error in my test script that caused the truncation of the last character. I asked here for help as I assumed there was some magic going on with the mysterious final form character but it turned out to be a plain-old bug.
    – trojanfoe
    Nov 10, 2021 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


N, yo nee t spel ou you word completel. I fina letter ar trul no a optio, yo ca us th no fina form. Fo exampl, yo ca writ:


Thi doesn' loo righ, bu shou b understandabl. Omittin th las lette completel wil loo ver ba, incompeten, an possibl incomprehensibl.

In your specific case, the word "ראשון" means "first". The word "ראשו", without the nun, means "his head" (composed of the noun "ראש" = "head", plus the third person singular possessive suffix ו). This will only confuse your users. Better to make an amateurish spelling mistake than to confuse your readers with a completely different word or idea.

  • 3
    Ah so it does matter, thanks. I'm sure there is a less sanctimonious way of answering the question though,
    – trojanfoe
    Nov 9, 2021 at 10:45
  • Looks like regular (Latin) epigraphy to me, actually
    – vectory
    Nov 9, 2021 at 19:08

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