consonant clusters

Mathias van den Bossche m.vdb at
Thu Dec 6 07:56:53 EST 2001

En réponse à Penner <pennerkm at>:

> S.Lyosov asked:
> > When do you think the Hebrew final consonant clusters of
> monosyllabic nouns were opened by an auxiliary vowel? 

It is interesting to note that in spoken Arabic, the things 
are similar. The case endings vanished, and the remaining
awkward consonant clusters are split by an epenthetic vowel. 

E.g. (Classical Arabic) _kalb-un_,-an,-in ("a dog" as you 
can guess) became /kalb/ after case ending drop, and has now
very often a schewa between L and B : [k'al at b]. This holds
for Mesopotamian and Syria-Palestine dialects. Northern 
African dialects went even further, since the schewa took 
the word stress and the eventual realization is [klab] as 
long as the word has no suffix ( [klab] "a dog" but [kalbi]
"my dog", pretty much as in Hebrew [mel'ex] / [m'alki]). 

In the former group of dialects, you have the same 
alternances in the imperfect conjugation, and again this
is very similar to the schewas you find in Hebrew conjugation. 

These epenthetic vowels seem to be a endemic trend of Semitic
languages - as far as I know, they affect Aramaic too.  
Does anybody have more information on the matter ? 

Mathias van den Bossche

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