[b-hebrew] shwa, shtayim and sharp taw
crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Thu Mar 9 19:12:56 EST 2006
I would like to ask the interested members' opinion on the origin of
the word שתים shtayim.
Remarkably, this word has a shwa with the shin, but a dagesh in the taw.
A so-called shwa na` (mobile) is supposed not to be followed by a
sharp begedkepet consonant sign: it should have a soft
"veghedhkhefeth" variant, if the shwa we are dealing with had once
been a vowel - i.e. if it really is a shwa na`.
Of course, to the Masoretes there was only one shwa: representing the
absence of a vowel.
But for convenience's sake, I am here referring to the common paradigm
of "two shwas". (Which makes sense to the historical grammar of
Hebrew, not the grammar of the MT itself.)
Apparently the shwa in the word shtayim is not a shwa na` then, but a
shwa nach (quiescens). The original form of the word שתים shtayim in
that case started with two consonants - apparently this was possible
at least in the case of a shin.
The standard Arabic equivalent of the word, (i)thnān, resolves its
initial 2 consonants, if needed, with a preceding vowel.
Now I was wondering, what have the members heard of their teachers,
when they first learned Hebrew, regarding the shwa-issue? I have the
feeling that, often, certain absolute phonetic laws are proposed to
students, which in practice are subject to so many exceptions, that it
would have been better not to have mentioned these in the first place.
Another aspect of this, see above, is that diachronic and synchronic
grammar are often mixed up.
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