[b-hebrew] Shva merahephet

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Jun 24 12:26:47 EDT 2004

On 24/06/2004 08:25, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> ... the previous shewa, which you call a shva merahephet.
> HH: I believe that some grammars call this a shewa medium (see 
> Waltke-O'Connor 36.1.1c). Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley 10d states that 
> originally the shewa was thought to be part of a "loosely closed" or 
> "wavering" syllable. ...

Vadim's "merahephet" is of course the same word which we were recently 
discussing concerning Genesis 1:2, meaning "hovering", "gliding" or 
perhaps "nesting". "Wavering" might well be another good translation, 
though not suitable in Genesis.

> But this distinction has now been abandoned. The syllables are really 
> closed, and the original vowel is not merely shortened but entirely 
> elided. The fact that a following BeGadKePHaTH letter remains spirant 
> (soft) instead of taking the dagesh lene is understood on the 
> "supposition that the change from hard to spirant is older than the 
> elision of the vowel, and that a prehistoric malakai (e.g.) became 
> malakhai before being shortened to malkhey.
> HH: I don't know what the most current thinking about this is. There 
> is a newer grammar by Muroaka that I don't have. Waltke-O'Connor 
> 1.6.3d states that the MT may reflect post-biblical developments in 
> the double pronunciation of the "begadkephat" letters and that the 
> external (i.e., non-biblical) evidence is confused.
> HH: Waltke-O'Connor also suggest that the two sounds of the begakephat 
> letters are allophones, variant sounds that arise due to the 
> linguistic environment. That is, the variation is due to the sounds 
> that precede and follow the letter. The variations are aspects of the 
> same letter in different environments and do not lead to a contrast in 
> meaning.
> HH: So any information that you have on this topic would be helpful.
>                 Yours,
>                 Harold Holmyard
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Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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