Vowel Reduction and the Definite Article

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Wed Aug 30 20:41:15 EDT 2000

Probably normally we reduce vowels first then add the definite article. But
when we do add a definite article and end up with a propretonic qamets
(quite a rare situation), we end up with something which would have sounded
rather oddly heavy to Hebrew ears, and it would not be surprising if
reduction crept in here, especially in such a prominent position. But I
would value input from an expert on Hebrew phonology. Henry, where are you?

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "George Athas" <gathas at globalfreeway.com.au>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 10:50 PM
Subject: Vowel Reduction and the Definite Article

> | I would actually lean towards the phonological argument I mention there.
> | suggest that the original was baaree'shiyt (absolute with article), with
> | three long vowels. The Samaritan pronunciation apparently supports this.
> | the rather anomalous qamets two syllables before the stress (a position
> | where it is usually replaced by a schwa) became shortened, in the Jewish
> | pronunciation tradition of this obviously well known word, to a schwa.
> |
> | Peter Kirk
> But is the definite article reducible. I know that qamets is reducible in
> position, but does this also encompass the definite article when it has
been lengthened to
> qamets? Or, put another way, do we reduce vowels first and then add the
definite article,
> or do we add the definite article and then reduce vowels?
> Best regards,
> - Anglican Chaplaincy, UNSW;
> - Southern Cross College,
> Sydney, Australia
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