[b-hebrew] Why assume the Masoretes recorded spoken Hebrew?
peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Feb 10 08:17:37 EST 2005
On 10/02/2005 12:36, Peter Kirk wrote:
> According to Terence Wade's "A Comprehensive Russian Grammar", the
> following vowel sounds are heard in Russian (in IPA, you need Unicode
> to read some of these):
> Stressed: a ɛ u o ɨ i e æ ö ü
> Unstressed (additional): ɩ ɩ̵ ʌ ə
I failed to complete this part of my posting before sending it. Here is
This list indicated that modern phoneticians hear more distinct vowel
sounds in modern spoken Russian (as well as English and many other
modern languages) than the Masoretes heard in Hebrew.
Wade notes (p.5, 2nd edition of Wade):
The vowels o and a arepronounced as [o] and [a] only when they appear in
In pre-tonic position or as the unstressed initial letter in a word o
and a are pronounced [ʌ] ...
In pre-pre-tonic position (except as initial letters...) or in
post-tonic position both vowels are pronounced [ə]...
This is very like the position in Hebrew. The full vowel sound e.g.
qamats or holam is found only in stressed syllables, plus in Hebrew only
in open unstressed syllables. In unstressed syllables just before the
stress (in Hebrew, only when closed) the vowel is shortened e.g. to
patah or qamats qatan. And in pre-pre-tonic position (but this time in
Hebrew only in open syllables) there is a further shortening or
modification to the schwa sound - but not word initially after alef. The
details are nt identical, but the general picture is remarkably similar.
It is also in English, because these kinds of vowel reductions are
common across languages.
What is unusual about the Masoretes is that they attempted to record
fine phonetic distinctions which had no semantic significance, whereas
most modern Latin and Cyrillic alphabets are more phonemic i.e. not
recording these fine distinctions.
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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