[b-hebrew] Shva merahephet

VC vadim_lv at center-tv.net
Thu Jun 24 16:00:58 EDT 2004

Dear Harold,

> >Did any of you ever study the device of shva merahephet, the
> >differenc between calBi (my dog), and calVei(dogs)? Any information
> >on this?
> HH: One difference between "my dog" on the one hand, and "dogs" in
> the construct form on the other, is the vowel pointing under the
> beth. With the plural word there is a sere, while the singular with a
> suffix takes hireq. There seems to be a shewa under the lamed in both
> cases. There also seems to be a difference because the beth in the
> singular word takes a dagesh, while there is no dagesh in beth on the
> plural word. You seem to be asking why there is no dagesh in the beth
> in the plural word, implying that it might be a result of 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. 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.

I hope to finish the article on this issue in two weeks, and would be
certainly thankful for the comments, since my explanation is unusual, and
no, I don't want to look ridiculous.

Regrettably, I cannot post article on the list, since it will thus appear on
Internet, precluding publication, but I would be glad to send it privately
to members of the list, interested in this topic, for review.


Vadim Cherny

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