[b-hebrew] Masoretic invention, was: masorete pointing v's LLX transliterations

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman joel at exc.com
Tue Jul 26 15:20:03 EDT 2005

>A "conjuctive trope" is one that exhibits the smallest amount of
>stop between words.  There are four different degrees of

This is a common misunderstanding.  The trope that falls on a word, as
you seem to know, depends not only on the "stop between words" but
also on how many words are in a single unit.  If we have two
structures, [[A B] C] and [Y Z], even if the relationship between [A
B] and C is the same as the relationship between Y and Z, even if
there is exactly the same amount of "stop between words," as you put
it, B will get a disjunctive trope while Y will get a conjunctive
trope.  This doesn't mean that Y is closer to Z; it just means that
the Masoretes tended not to use disjunctive tropes inside of two-word
phrases.  Similarly, very long phrases end up with munach's one after
the other, but not necessarily because the words are closer to each

>What is clear, however, is that all of this is a phonological rule
>and it is odd that you are arguing that a phonological rule has
>no basis in speech.  While I think Wikipedia is wrong on the

It is not a phonological rule.  Phonology deals with how words are
pronounced, and with the structure of language.  This is a
system-internal rule.  My argument is that a system wherein the
pronunciation reflects only the arbtirary nature of the system and not
the structure of the words that are being pronounced must be an
artifact of that system.

We agree that Judges 1:1 and 1:8 have identical structure.  If there
were a phonological rule, it would apply equally to them both.  This
is precisely how I know there is no phonological rule, but rather a
Tiberian-Masoretic-trope rule that applies differently in two cases of
identical structure.

An equally good example comes from Genesis 42:5, in which the Bet of
Bnei Yisrael gets a Dagesh, and Exodus 12:37, in which the Bet does
not.  The sturcture in both cases is "verb-of-motion BNEI YISRAEL."
Certainly they have exactly the same structure.  But they do not have
the same pointing, only because of the details of the way the
Masoretes chose to record the structure.

Again, I go into more detail about this in my book.


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