Hebrew nunation, Henry

Vincent DeCaen decaen at chass.utoronto.ca
Thu Apr 5 13:16:00 EDT 2001

henri, mon ami! how are things going for you these days?

i'm committed to the principle of internal reconstruction before
comparative studies. so, the arabic is not exactly interesting. what is
more interesting is perhaps aramaic, where nunation is limited to the
indicative/subjunctive. i have the suspicion that arabic represents a
secondary development; and i've wondered about the etymology of hebrew
particle NF) in this light....  but in any case, i'm committed
methodologically to bracket Arabic (which is emphatically NOT
proto-Semitic, BTW).

but you're right, of course; and it's an empirical question.

so let's assume, for argument's sake:

(1) the -ennu vs -ehu distinction has been established and we understand
something of the syntax and semantics and distribution (assume!)

(2) and that the same distinction holds across *all* forms, so that we
expect -ekka vs -(e)ka, &c &c

(3) and that the variation in MIM.E^K.F vs MIM.:KF^ is the correct pattern
for pause vs context for /ekka/ (again, assume here; and not necessarily
for other strings! but cf. HIN."^NIY vs HIN:NIY^)

then, assuming all this...,
we would predict, would we not, the following:

(A) that when ekka is found, it conforms to what we know of ennu

(B) that when ekka apparently fails to obtain, against expectation, it
really is still underlying /ekka/, that is subject to tiberian contextual

(C) and that the tokens vs failures are distributed by pause (minor
pause?) vs context.

if we could obtain these predictions, if, it seems to me we'd be on to
something interesting about hebrew grammar & masoretic phonology.


Dr Vincent DeCaen     <decaen at chass.utoronto.ca>
c/o Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, 4 Bancroft Ave., 2d floor
University of Toronto, Toronto ON, CANADA, M5S 1A1

Hebrew Syntax Encoding Initiative, www.chass.utoronto.ca/~decaen/hsei/
Love work. Hate authority.  --Shemaiah, from Avot

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