[b-hebrew] What is a syllable?
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sat Jan 23 22:20:04 EST 2010
On Sat, Jan 23, 2010 at 3:32 PM, Ratson Naharadama
<yahoo-arch at heplist.com>wrote:
> Karl wrote:
> > What both of you ignore is how both
> > the speaker and listener perceive the
> > syllabic divisions, irrespective of how
> > it is pronounced.
> On my part, I consciously ignored how the listener perceived it (and the
> reason I gave the clarification of "the way that your sentence is
Maybe there is just where you lost me, as my main interest is in the
perception of the syllables in preparation to recording them down.
(As an aside, from a child I was taught to enunciate my words clearly, to
the point that I say “give me” and not “gimme”, “would you” and not
“wood-djew”, and so forth.)
> I fully agree with you that Tiberian Hebrew ≠ Biblical Hebrew. However,
> it sounds like you would contest that Biblical Hebrew did not make use
> of geminate consonants to differentiate meaning of words... Is this your
> view? If so, my first question would be: Why would BH be different than
> other semitic languages on this count?
My evidence is entirely from within the Hebrew language, as I have done no
cognate language comparisons.
First of all, I start with the Biblical record and regard it as accurate,
starting with the six-day creation of Genesis one. What that indicates is
that the Hebrews had writing, long before there’s any indication that the
Phoenicians had the alphabet. It also causes me to reject such theoretical
constructs as “proto-Hebrew”, “proto-Semitic” and “Afro-Asiatic” as
a-historic constructs, therefore can, and should, be ignored.
Secondly, I came from the presupposition that each letter stood for one
sound only, not two or three. That then rules out the BeGaD KeFaT and other
theories for multiple pronunciations for letters. But that presupposition is
based on that most languages try to have but one pronunciation per letter,
and that most exceptions are where the spelling has been frozen while the
language changed, and from borrowing from other languages. As far as I can
tell from transliterations, the original pronunciations of BGD KPT were the
plosives, not the soft. If that is true, then many words are impossible to
pronounce unless we are dealing with a CV language, where each letter marked
the beginning of a syllable.
Note, this does not rule out sloppy speakers uttering geminate consonants,
just that such would not be considered as a means to differentiate meaning.
Third, even if you could prove that all other Semitic languages had closed
CVC syllables, and geminate consonants, that does not mean that Biblical
Hebrew had those. One needs to be careful with cognate language data,
because sometimes the differences can be unexpected and surprising.
> Ratson Naharädama
> Denver, Colorado
> Karl W. Randolph.
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