Assyrian Hebrew?

gs02wmr at panther.Gsu.EDU gs02wmr at panther.Gsu.EDU
Tue Aug 10 21:28:22 EDT 1999

On Tue, 10 Aug 1999 peter_kirk at wrote:
> Henry is of course right that this shift cannot be fully explained in 
> a short E-mail. But it is interesting that this long A to O shift 
> seems to occur rather regularly, including a second time in Hebrew. 
> Thus we have the following changes in Hebrew:

Are there any practical theories you guys have which would give me(us) a
rough idea of the influences or forces behind the shifts? Anything simple?

> A similar change has happened to the Arabic long A when borrowed into 
> Farsi and Uzbek: Arabic SALAAM has become SALOM in both these 
> languages (with the more open of the two O vowels in both languages; 
> the Farsi vowel is sometimes transliterated as a long A but is 
> generally pronounced more like O).

Hmmm. I actually know an Afghan guy who speaks good Afghan Farsi and
Iranian Farsi, and is fluent in Arabic as well. I'll have to ask him about
that specifically, but I've never heard any natural Arabic speaker say
"Salaam"(sal-Am), but something like "Sah-Lawm," whereas you are making
the argument that an Iranian would say "Sah-LOwm." When I hear him
greeting friends, I hear this small distinction you speak of. Very Intense
stuff we have here! ;)

> Basically what is happening each time is that the distinction between 
> long and short vowels tends to become lost and so to make the 
> distinctions of meaning clear people start to pronounce the long 
> vowels with a different quality. Often the long A moves backwards in 
> the mouth and the short A moves forward (in English the long A moved 

That is fascinating history. I definitely have to research this some more.

> your English accent). I would guess that the second vowel in SHALOM 
> was originally pronounced rather like that but later moved higher in 
> the mouth (more like the Spanish "o", French "eau"), especially when 
> qamets also acquired an O sound in Ashkenazi pronunciation (and also 
> in Sephardi pronunciation when short, qamets-hatuph).

Thaks for all the information! This begs the question - since the
Israelite tribes are scattered all over Earth across nations and people -
would their reunification into the Holy Land bring together hundreds of
different forms of dialects of Hebrew, or one complete understandable
language? I guess that's for a religious forum, then...;)


Wondell M. Rachman

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