[b-hebrew] dating of matres lectionis

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Jul 27 18:10:18 EDT 2005

 B. M. Rocine wrote:
> Uri, I find it interesting that on the Mesha Stele, the final he is not
> only used for the 3. m. s. pronominal suffix, but also the 3. f. s., as
> in line 8 bah.  According to contemporary Hebrew phonics such a word
> would be pronounced with an aspirated /h/, that is /bah/ with a
> "breathy" h.  Let's assume the two pronominal suffixes, though written
> identically, were pronounced differently.  If so, I think the existence
> of different pronunciations for a final he is an expression of matres
> lexionis.

Hi Bryan,

The Ugaritic vocalization of these vowels is (according to Daniel
Sivan, Handbook of
Ugaritic [Hebrew, but there is an English version]), 3ms -hu, 3mf -ha.
whether the Mesha consonants were intended to be pronounced as -hu and -ha, 
or just -h, the fact is that they were probably consonantal when applied to the
third person.  "Different pronounciations" is not the definition of a
mater lectionis.
Rather, a mater lectionis is a letter that is consistently used to
signify vowel information
at some times, while at other times signifying consonantal information.

Incidentally, Daniel Sivan notes several uses where the 3rd person
consonant drops
and one instance where it might be replaced by a waw (p. 24, 38) with
reference to KTU
3.4, line 4.  Some bibliography on it is provided at the following
link (in response to
a question by Jim West from 1998!):

Yitzhak Sapir

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