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

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Fri Dec 2 07:55:01 EST 2005

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Herman Meester <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
Date: 2-dec-2005 13:53
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Hebrew grammar, (was Zech 6:8)
To: Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org>

2005/12/2, Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org>:

> Interesting, but this goes beyond my Arabic - except that I do know that
> LA still indicates negation in Arabic, I was saying it all the time to
> Egyptian street vendors! Remember that in Hebrew (but not in Arabic) nun
> assimilates regularly causing gemination, i.e. nC -> CC, in "weak" verbs
> and in the niphal yiqtol, so the observed pattern of wayyiqtol verbs and
> of definite nouns could be explained by a definite marker which was
> originally an- or han-. This marker, if in proto-NWSemitic, might have
> become al- in Arabic (at least in some environments) by some kind of
> dissimilation, but when combined with la- might have become lam-.

Dear Peter,
My knowledge of Arabic is confined to slow and passive reading of MSA,
but I do know that Lā is there in most Arabic dialects as the usual
word for "no"/"not", but apart from that there is also Lam and Lan,
the former always preceding "yaqtul", the latter always preceding the
subjunctive "yaqtula". I wonder if it is a coincidence that it's
always the yaqtul(a) that's preceded by this Lam or Lan; to put Lam or
Lan before any other word or verb form (like qatala) would produce an
ungrammatical sentence. The comparison between lam Yaqtul and Wayyqtl
has been made before, of course, within the framework of comparative
linguistics and the "preterite yiqtol".
I venture the [m] and [n] in these words may have been produced by
dissimilation of la-yyaqtul and la-yyaqtula. I can't prove this, as
usual, but it is certainly not impossible.
In any case, both [Lam] and [Lan] are most probably modifications of
[Lā], so we have good reasons to wonder where these [m] and [n] come
It seems to fit my model rather well to explain these out of
dissimilation, too. Then we have three cases of dissimilation out of
primary gemination in Arabic, (a)CC resulting in ~> (a)[L]C, (a)[M]C
or (a)[N]C, three different consonants, but all three liquidae, which
is one phonetic group of consonants.
It takes an open mind, but no magic, to consider this possiblity.
BHebrew, that does not prefer dissimilation, keeps the gemination in
all cases (except when in the Masoretic phase, it ceased to be
pronounced in some cases, of course). The unifying potential of this
theory is getting more attractive to me by the day.


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