BH transcript/Tiberian phonetics, Churchyard

Peter_Kirk at Peter_Kirk at
Wed Sep 23 21:35:00 EDT 1998

Your discussions of BH pronunciation and transcription, and Henry's 
thesis, are very interesting to me, but sometimes a bit beyond me. But 
you in turn may be interested in the following observations from an 
analogous situation, the pronunciation of the vowels in Arabic loan 
words in various languages in and around the part of the world where I 
work. These tables are simplified: certain morphophonemic changes in 
specific environments are ignored, as are local variations, and the 
phonetic values are approximate:

Underlying Arabic       i:      i       a:      a       u:      u

Azerbaijani             i:      i       a:  fronted a   u:  fronted u

Farsi                   i       e     open o front a    u    high o
                                    or back a

Uzbek                   i:      i     open o    a       u   fronted o

Tajik (?)               i:      i     open o    a       u:      u

Some length distinction may be preserved in Farsi and Uzbek also.

Thus, apparently, the a vowels are given a Sephardi type pronunciation 
in Azerbaijan and an Ashkenazi type one in Uzbekistan. Paradoxically, 
the Sephardi (Mountain) Jews in Azerbaijan, when speaking their own 
(Farsi related) language, pronounce a: as open o in a more Ashkenazi 

Peter Kirk

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