[b-hebrew] Origins of the definite article of BHebrew

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Mon Dec 19 13:04:12 EST 2005

2005/12/19, Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org>:
> On 19/12/2005 15:50, Herman Meester wrote:
> > ...
> >
> >No, I'm sorry for not having showed some examples more elaborately,
> >but the stems I refer to are *not* cognate to the Hebrew hif`il, etc.
> >So this is getting confusing. The "Arabic hif`il" is the stem iv:
> >'af`ala, with real hamz, and I didn't use this example. That alif
> >never disappears either in the perfect. The stems vii, viii, ix and x
> >(I mention a few more now, I've been a little lazy before), however,
> >totally different stems, have only prefixed -n- and infixed -t-, srd
> >cons. gemination (which is, I repeat, productive in Arabic!), and
> >prefixed sta-.
> >
> >fa`ala, stem vii: nfa`ala
> >fa`ala, stem viii: fta`ala
> >hamara, stem ix: hmarra (usually for colours, etc.)
> >fa`ala, stem x: staf`ala
> >
> >So that's why we need, only in pausa: (i)nfa`ala, (i)fta`ala,
> >(i)marra, (i)staf`ala.
> >
> >
> >
> Thanks for the clarification and the off-list chart (I had one of those
> somewhere, not sure where), and for reducing my level of confusion.
> It seems to me now that Hebrew hiphil is cognate with Arabic stem iv
> 'af`ala. The only one of the Arabic stems you list which has a clear
> cognate in Hebrew is vii (i)nfa`ala, which seems to be cognate with
> Hebrew niph`al. But Hebrew resolves the consonant cluster by inserting a
> letter rather than preposing one, cf. Hebrew "ben" vs. Arabic "ibn".
> According to some people the Hebrew form hishtaxaweh is a hishtaphe`el
> form from the stem XWH. If so, this would be a Hebrew cognate of Arabic
> stem x (i)staf`ala, with h in place of silent alef. And there does seem
> to be an ishtaph`al form in biblical Aramaic, cognate with (i)staf`ala,
> although the only attested form seems to be yishtaklelun in Ezra 4:13,16
> and so the reconstruction of the basic form as ishtaph`al rather than
> perhaps shetaph`el would seem to be a bit speculative.

That is possible, but don't you think the stems vii, viii and ix are
quite convincing for the argument that an original alif al-wasl is
just there? After all, if we have hif`il = 'af`al (h='), of which your
hishtaf`al would then be a parallel, the alif al-qat` doesn't have to
disappear there either. It would be stranger that initial hamz
disappears randomly, than that there were just (at least) two
realities expressed by one alif (in initial position): one a real
hamz, one only a pausal spelling of an auxiliary vowel.

By the way, I think what you suggest as the original proto-form of
stem x is not necessary. The hitpa`el already has a parallel in stem
v, which is tafa``ala (cf. stem ii and pi`el). This actually makes it
more plausible that in Arabic it really is just [staf`ala] originally.

ta fa``ala
hit pa`el
sta f`ala
hishta f`el


> --
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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