-mw suffix (was Re: [b-hebrew] Isaiah 53:8)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Dec 13 12:37:58 EST 2004

On 13/12/2004 12:40, Samuel Arnet wrote:

> Peter Kirk wrote:
>> ...
>> So is it possible that LF^MOW and L:MOW are simply different forms of 
>> the same lemma, with a rather regular stress shift? It looks as if 
>> LF^MOW is the pausal form and L:MOW is a reduced form (cf. a 
>> construct) used mostly when phonologically dependent e.g. joined by 
>> maqqef.
> They belong to two different lemmas: ...

You assert this, but the data don't seem to support it. At least, they 
are consistent with the view that the stress on the -mo suffix is 
phonologically conditioned. Here is a summary, based on the Westminster 

When accented with silluq, atnah or ole weyored:

Penultimate stress: 60 (42 following l-, 1 `al, 2 'eyn, 15 other)
Final stress: 1 (following k-)

When accented with any other disjunctive accent:

Penultimate: 32 (9 l-, 7 `al, 16 other)
Final: 4 (all k-)

When accented with a conjunctive accent:

Penultimate: 24 (4 l-, 4 `al, 16 other)
Final: 19 (2 b-, 16 k-, 1 l-)

When connected to the following word with maqqef:

Penultimate: none
Final: 47 (7 b-, 37 k-, 3 l-)

Of course there does need to be some explanation of why k-mo and b-mo 
are almost never found in a position where the stress would be 
retracted, and even in the few cases where it is found in such a 
position the stress is not retracted; whereas l-mo is most commonly 
found in places where the stress is retracted but can also appear in the 
non-retracted form; and -mo on any other word is always found in places 
where the stress can be retracted. But there are several possible 
explanations for all of this, and the separate lemmas explanation is 
only one of them.

I note the following from GKC 103k:

> The syllable MOW (in Arabic mâ MF( = Heb. MFH what) in K.FM^OWNIY 
> (probably from K.:MFH ):ANIY, prop. according to what I, for as I) is, 
> in poetry, appended to the three simple prefixes B.:,K.:, L:, even 
> without suffixes, so that B.:MOW, K.:MOW, L:MOW appear as independent 
> words, equivalent in meaning to B.:, K.:, L:.

This suggests an alternative way of looking at this one which may be 
productive. Many non-prefixed prepositions are actually the construct 
forms of a noun, and so the prepositional phrase is a construct chain; 
but some of the nouns do also occur in an absolute form e.g. )AXAR, 
B.AYIN, (AD, (AL, T.AXAT. Consider also P.FNEH and P.IY which are so 
commonly used in the construct as prepositions with the prefixes like 
L-. So I wonder is LF^MOW is in fact a noun in the absolute state 
(although used adverbially) with the L- prefix, and L:MOW is its 
construct state used as a preposition and synonym of L-. The equivalent 
words with K- and B- would also exist in principle, but for some reason 
they are almost never used adverbially but only in the construct as 
prepositions. The underlying noun might indeed be a variant of MFH as 
GKC suggests.

Note that I have looked only at the forms, not the meanings. But I think 
we need to start this analysis there.

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

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