[b-hebrew] Re: variant pronunciation
jnothman at student.usyd.edu.au
Sat Apr 17 21:56:32 EDT 2004
On Sat, 17 Apr 2004 14:38:31 -0700 (PDT), Uri Hurwitz <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
> there couldn't have been a single one for "biblical times"
It is likely that over the span of the Israelite kingdom there were in
fact many dialects and accents. But not only from modern accents and from
related languages can we get many clues, but there are many present in the
masoretic orthography and pointing systems.
The fact that there exists a dagesh kal in 6 letters clearly shows that
the masoretes distinguished between 2 variations on these letters,
depending generally on whether they started a syllable. It may also clue
that these distinctions followed similar phonetic shifts.
> She said: the Yemenite is the closest.
Regarding this, although the Yemenites have been very much isolated from
many of the influences of other dialects, they still may have some
influence from Yemenite Arabic. Particularly with reference to the "jimel"
(gimel-dagesh)- this sound is the odd one out with respect to the 6
letters mentioned above, since all others both the variations with and
without dagesh are pronounced in the same place. In Yemenite hebrew,
gimel-with-dagesh is pronounced at the front of the mouth (on the alveolar
palate) as "j", and gimel-without-dagesh is pronounced at the back of the
mouth as "gh". Now, this could be the influence of Yemenite Arabic which
has no hard "g" sound, but does have a "j"; it could also be a regional
Ancient Hebrew dialect adopted by the Yemenites, and it is unlilely that
we will ever know.
> one example: Qamatz gadol they pronounced O similarly to the Ashkenazi
You can see this from the masoretic transcription, in fact. In academic
Hebrew, Qamats itself is considered a "long a", whose short equivalent is
Patah, and shorter is Patah Hatuf (patah with a sheva next to it). But the
Qamats is also used to transcribe two different vowels - the Qamats Qaton
(short qamats) and Qamats Hatuf (qamats with sheva next to it). Both of
these are in fact classified as "o" sounds, and are pronounced such by
most Modern Hebrew accents. Nonetheless, the Masoretes gave them the same
symbol, which tells us that the Masoretes too, like the Ashkenazim,
pronounced all three as the same or similar sound, that is, "o".
This has been the subject of much confusion, as Qamats = "a" and Qamats
Katon = "o" are written exactly the same in many texts (although there are
a number of modern texts that do distinguish them), and so many readers of
Hebrew ignorant of this fact will pronounce Qamats Katon as "a"
Additionally, it has caused issues, now put down to custom, of whether
Qamats before a Qamats Hatuf is to be pronounced Qaton or normal, ie:
'afternoon' = tsahorayim or tsohorayim ?
'tents' = aholim or oholim ?
'your workers' = pa'olecha or po'olecha ?
Just a little more food for thought.
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