[b-hebrew] Pronouncing Pathach like Qamets
yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Dec 26 14:05:19 EST 2006
On 12/26/06, Dr. Raoul Comninos wrote:
> I began learning Hebrew using 'The First Hebrew Primer' which
> pronounces Qamets and Pathach in the same way. I then switched to a
> Semlink Course and have noted that Pathach is often (but not always)
> pronounced as 'a' in BAT. I recently began to study chapter 13 on
> Perfect Strong verbs where the grammar advises that a distinction in
> pronunciation be made between Qamets and Pathach (13.4). However, in
> listening to the lectures I noticed that Dr Pratico sometimes
> pronounces Pathach as short and other times as long, notably in his
> recitation of paradigms 13.7. I am therefore now thoroughly confused.
> My question is: how should I pronounce the Pathach? Should it be as a
> Qamets (which seems more natural) or as a in bat. Why does Dr Pratico
> pronounce it sometimes one way, sometimes another? Since I am at a
> relatively early phase in my learning of the language, I am ready to
> follow whatever you deem best.
I don't understand yet how you pronounce patach. In my opinion, many
grammar books present an inaccurate picture of the way the Tiberian
Massoretes read the Bible. While other systems did exist, if you use
the Tiberian vocalic marks, then you are best off reading it the way the
This system in short is as follows:
qamats is pronounced like the vowel in the word 'bought'
patach like the vowel in the word 'bat'
holam like the vowel in the word 'boat'
hirik like the vowel in the word 'bit'
tsere like the vowel in the word 'bait'
segol like the vowel in the word 'bet'
qubuts and shuruk like the vowel in the word 'boot'
Almost all of these could be long or short. It would be long when in an
open or stressed vowel (including secondary stress), and short otherwise.
It so happens that tsere and holam are always long.
A mobile schewa is pronounced 'a' in most cases. But when followed
by a yod it is pronounced 'i' and when followed by alef, he, het, or ayin,
it is pronounced with the same value as the guttural's vowel. It is always
short unless stressed. hataf-qamats/patah/segol are pronounced like
the qamats/patah/segol and are short.
A schewa is mobile if it is at the beginning of the word, follows another
schewa in the middle of the word (but not in the end), if it is under a
letter that takes a dagesh hazak/forte, or if it both follows a long vowel
and if the consonants that are separated by the schewa are the same.
Since you are just beginning to learn Hebrew, I suggest you try to see
at least how the above rules work out.
> Some confusion also remains it seems in the pronunciation of a Kaf
> which is "hard" when pronounced in the lectures and vocabulary, and
> yet according to 1.5 should be "soft" as in 'ch'.
When taking a dagesh, the letters bgdkpt are sounded "hard", but
soft otherwise. A dagesh forte also doubles the letters. (A doubling
of the "soft" sounds can be produced by only using the last rule for the
schewa above, when the vowel isn't long).
If you still have a question, may I ask that you provide specific examples
of words and preferably verse citations?
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