[b-hebrew] matres lectionis

Read, James C K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk
Tue Jul 26 12:43:43 EDT 2005

Scholars believe that the hebrews originally wrote with 
no vowels and that the matres lectionis (vowels' mothers) 
were the first attempts of the hebrews to add vowels to 
the consanantal script.
However, there is no real evidence that they didn't also 
have a consanantal value. I personally find it difficult to 
believe that the hebrews would decide to start writing in 
some vowels but not form a complete system of vowelling. 
It is much more likely that what we view today as 'matres 
lectionis' represented original consanant sounds and 
coincidentally gave a system of predicting the vowel sign 
with no real intention of the implementors of this system 
to create a vowel system. Admittedly, there are many cases 
where they are no longer pronouced as a consanant but this 
can quite easily be put down to our laziness of speech. 
e.g. The final 'he' requires much more effort to pronounce 
than to drop and doesn't help the listener to distinguish 
the word any better and so it was easily dropped (IMO). 
Such phonomenon can be easily observed in many languages. 
In florence they spirantise the 'ci' in certain circumstances 
to form a 'h' sound,while the rest of Italy pronounces it 'k'.
In tenerife the final 's' of the 2nd m.s is dropped whereas in 
mainland Spain this never happens e.g. 'como te llamas?'
In England, in the majority of regions, there is great laziness 
to pronounce the 't' when it is mid-word, and it is more often 
pronounced as a guttural than as a 't' sound.

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