[b-hebrew] Apparently Redundant Letters

Alexander Oldernes alexander at oldernes.no
Sun Oct 9 14:02:04 EDT 2005

Thank you very much for this complementary and informative explanation!
And thanks to all you others for your contribution.

Alexander Oldernes

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dr. Joel M. Hoffman" <joel at exc.com>
To: <alexander at oldernes.no>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 3:39 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Apparently Redundant Letters

> >My perception is based on "A modern grammar for classical Hebrew"
>>(Garrett), and I have the following understanding of the apperantly
>>redundant letters...
> What you seem to be looking for is the general understanding of the
> Tiberian Masoretic system for pronouncing Biblical Hebrew, which I
> call Tiberian Hebrew.  The Tiberian Masoretes lived just over one
> millennium ago, and they are the ones who gave us Dagesh and BEGED
> KEFET and so forth.
> The general pattern to keep in mind is this: Of the many places you
> can block air flow, Tiberian Hebrew expands on three, giving us sounds
> for voiced and unvoiced, stop and fricative varieties, for a total of
> 12 sounds, all represented by the BEGED KEFET letters.
> By "voiced" I mean that the vocal chords are vibrating; so, for
> example, V is voiced and its corresponding unvoiced sound is F.  If
> you make these two sounds (V and F) and place your hand on your
> throat, you can feel the vibrating vocal chords
> By "stop" I mean that the flow of air is completely stopped.  B and K,
> for example, are stops.  One result of being a stop is that you cannot
> prolong the sounds.
> By "fricative" I mean that the flow of air is restricted but not
> stopped.  F and X are fricatives.  They can be prolonged.
> Finally, the air can be restricted at the lips ("labial"), the
> alveolar ridge just behind the teeth ("alveolar"), soft palate in the
> throat ("velar"), further back in the throat ("glottal"),  further
> back yet ("uvular") or even further back than that ("pharyngeal");
> these last three are collectively called "guttural."
> In BEGED KEFET, Dagesh indicates a stop, while lack of Dagesh
> indicates a fricative.
> Bet, Gimel and Daled are voiced; Pe, Kaf and Taf are their unvoiced
> equivalents.
> Bet/Pe are labial; Daled/Taf are alveolar; Gimel/Kaf are velar.
> So:
> Voiced Unvoiced
> Stop Bet+Dagesh (B) Pe+Dagesh (P)
> Fricative Bet (V) Pe (F)
> Stop Daled+Dagesh (D) Taf+Dagesh (T)
> Fricative Daled (Z or Th1) Taf (S or Th2)
> Stop Gimel+Dagesh (G) Kaf+Dagesh (K)
> Fricative Gimel (3) Kaf (X4)
> Th1 = "Th" as in "this."
> Th2 = "Th" as in "with."
> We don't have (3) in English.  (Note: Gh in "aghast" is pronounced
>         just "g.")
> X4 = "Ch" as in "Bach."
> Because of the pattern, you can learn how to say (3).  You can try to
> make Gimel fricative, or Kaf voiced; either way should give you the
> same result.
> Furthermore, there are some more guttural sounds:
>         Voiced Unvoiced
> Stop lacking Aleph
> Stop lacking Kuf
> Fricative lacking lacking
> Stop lacking lacking
> Fricative lacking Chet
> Approximant lacking Ayin
> (An approximant is when the air flow is still constricted, but not as
> much as with a fricative.)
> To round out the pattern, Tet was probably a combination of Taf+Dagesh
> and Ayin, while Tzadi might have been a combination of Taf and Ayin.
> Hope this helps.
> -Joel M. Hoffman
> http://www.exc.com/JoelHoffman

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