[b-hebrew] Proverbs 26:21 hoarse?

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Sep 30 06:09:17 EDT 2003

On 29/09/2003 20:45, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Similarly, when reading through Tanakh, I noticed a certain amount of fluidity in spelling. Possibly the most common varient is that some nouns are written with a final heh, and a varient without the heh, but both from the same root with the same meaning. These appear to be varient spellings of the same word. Yet lexicographers list them with separate entries. I found myself asking “Why?” as I found example after example.
>While I don’t consider myself reductionistic, I wonder how many entries are duplicated just from variations in spelling?
>Karl W. Randolph.
In such cases the different words have not just different spellings, but 
also different morphology (the forms with final he generally have 
construct in -AT and plural in -OT) and different gender agreement (the 
forms with final he take feminine adjectives and verb endings). And 
there is a real pronunciation difference, at least according to the 
Masoretes, who never write a word final vowel on a noun where there is 
no mater. This implies that we are looking at more than variant 
spellings of the same word. And as they are different words they should 
not be assumed to be completely synonymous. They might have broadly the 
same meaning but with subtle differences. Compare French matin/matinée, 
soir/soirée, an/année: each pair, which differ in suffix and in gender, 
would by default be translated the same in English (morning, evening, 
year), but there is a well known and rather subtle meaning distinction. 
Just as these are separate dictionary entries in French, so do their 
Hebrew equivalents need to be, at least unless it can be proven that 
they are fully interchangeable.

Cases where word medial vav and yod maters are either written or not 
written are a different issue, because there is no known syntactic or 
pronunciation difference. There are cases where different words are 
distinguished by use or omission of such a mater, but the words are 
homophones and essentially homonyms.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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