[b-hebrew] Hebrew transliteration

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jan 19 07:19:29 EST 2004

On 19/01/2004 03:48, Trevor Peterson wrote:

>Peter wrote:
>>How do you distinguish <C, sheva, C> from <C, dagesh>? e.g. 
>>how do you 
>>write what is HAL:LW. YFH. in M-C encoding? Would you write 
>>halluw yahh 
>>(with superscipted w)? There is something missing here, 
>I've been thinking about this a little bit more. It seems like this sort
>of situation would arise under two conditions--where the first consonant
>is either lengthened or semi-lengthened. By that I mean, gemination of
>the first consonant is what keeps the two consonants from converging in
>the first place. In such cases, the writing of three identical
>consonants in a row would be a dead giveaway that this is what's going
>on. Then there are cases where gemination is not marked, both in what we
>call virtual doubling with gutturals, and situations where gemination is
>unmarked before a shva (our example of halelu). In these cases, the
>preceding vowel still fits a closed syllable; so, as Jouon argues, there
>is still some degree of consonantal lengthening present, albeit
>unmarked. ...
The obvious evidence for this is the LXX transcription ALLHLOUIA (Psalm 
150:1 etc). But it is interesting that here the sheva is transcribed as 
eta! This suggests to me that the pronunciation known to the LXX  
translators had something more than a sheva here, perhaps a tsere, with 
a dagesh in the preceding lamed. And so for the Masoretic pronunciation 
perhaps we have some kind of perpetual Qere, with the pronunciation as 
if there is one lengthened lamed; so we would have unchanged Ketiv HLLW 
YH but Qere HAL.W. YAH.

But I guess that there will be Jewish traditions which describe the 
pronunciation of this important word. GKC 10g describes a relevant rule 
attributed to Ben Asher explaining why some MSS have hataf patah rather 
than sheva between two identical consonants, but as GKC notes this rule 
does not apply to the oldest MSS. Obviously whoever did write this rule 
and adjust later MSS saw the same problem as we do.

The particular form we have seems to be a rare Piel of a geminate verb; 
with these Piel is usually replaced by Poel, and so GKC gives no Piel 

>... Now, one strategy might be to put the gemination back into the
>transcription, but that would give the impression that there is a dagesh
>in the Hebrew text. Another option might be to indicate the
>semi-gemination somehow graphically, like a superscripted l (or whatever
>the consonant might be). Not that a superscript is a much better choice
>than a subscript, and it seems like the whole thing could start to get
>cluttered (not that it would be much worse than what we have in the
>Hebrew text itself). In any event, I'm not sure that I like forcing a
>writing of three identical consonants in a row. As I said before, the
>best solution might be to find another way to indicate the presence of a
>dagesh forte. Maybe it would work to put the lengthened consonant in
I don't like this because one object of any transliteration scheme I 
might use would be to use plain text - although I know this was not one 
of your aims. A capital letter might be an alternative, especially as 
many people are used to entering Hebrew text by using shift for dagesh.

>Trevor Peterson
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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

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