[b-hebrew] Hebrew grammar, (was Zech 6:8)

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Fri Dec 2 02:50:51 EST 2005

2005/12/1, Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org>:
> On 01/12/2005 22:28, Herman Meester wrote:
> > ...
> >
> >I like the idea that the innovation of C1-gemination has something to
> >do with the disappearance of final short vowels. These things don't
> >happen in a week time, they must have overlapped. Too bad Hebrew
> >spelling is what it is, we can't see these short vowels, making all
> >our thinking about the subject rather speculative per se.
> >
> >
> >
> I don't think this version can possibly work. On your hypothesis
> C1-gemination is common to Hebrew and Arabic and so predates the split
> between these languages. But the disappearance of final short vowels in
> Hebrew postdates this split - in fact probably by many centuries - as
> classical Arabic still had final short vowels. So you can't make
> C1-gemination a general phenomenon depend on the disappearance of final
> short vowels. You could make the spread of this phenomenon from nouns to
> verbs so dependent, but that turns out to be more or less the same as my
> "adding the definite article to the start of yaqtul to distinguish it
> from yaqtul(u)".

You have a good point there. I think I will let go of the idea that
C1-gemination is dependent of Hebrew losing its final short vowels. In
my theory, if we assume that Hebrew and Arabic cannot both have
independently invented the C1-gemination as article (which is not
certain of course, we cannot exclude the possibility of one language
influencing the other, but that chance is naturally smaller), we have
to believe that when (proto-)Hebrew and (proto-)Arabic still had full
short vowel endings in use, C1-gemination was already innovated in the
language. Or wasn't it an innovation at all, rather a very old
phenomenon in one branch of Semitic? I will further explore the link
between Arabic and Hebrew regarding Wayyqtl and the article. We also
have the "Lam Yaqtul" phenomenon in Arabic, which is also an
interesting example of "preterite yiqtol"; imagine (I'm not saying I
think it's possible yet) that even Yaqtul in Lam yaqtul is the result
of dissimilation of La-yyaqtul ~> lam yaqtul! After all,
(proto-)Semitic, I thought, has basically "LA" for the negation; it is
interesting to see if Arabic Lam and Lan could have anything to do
with dissimilation of C1(prefix)-geminates in the yaqtul verb form. In
all cases where Lam or Lan are used (my Arabic grammar says) a yaqtul
(usually called imperfect) verb form has to follow directly! This is
very interesting, of course. Now we can suggest that either an "[n]"
or an "[m]" is there inside Wayyqtl, too. But then we have to design
very complicated patterns of assimilation for Hebrew and Arabic,
because we can't see this [m] or [n] in any Wayyqtl in Hebrew, if I'm
informed well. But before I continue this speculation, I'll take a
look in a bigger Arabic grammar.

I'm now finding out who is the Arabic linguist here in Leiden
university, I'll ask him if there are more people who believe
Ullendorf on the Arabic article, and related subjects, as I don't
think there are many specialists of Arabic active on this list. Which
is not to be expected really, although it would occasionally be very
useful for a good understanding of BHebrew grammar.

To be continued...

best regards

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