[b-hebrew] Sofits (was: consonant vowel order)

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Fri Oct 14 05:33:57 EDT 2005

> The ancient (paleo-) Hebrew script did not have sofit forms.


> Their development is a purely calligraphic phenomenon, caused by not 
> pulling the pen towards the next letter.

Even in Aramaic block characters, huh?

> In Arabic, most letters have final forms. They have nothing to do with 
> "unstressed letters".

I readily admit that final forms are a matter of calligraphy in Arabic. 
Similar end does not prove similar means, though.

> As far as case endings, they don't really exist in Hebrew. There are 
> theories about cases in early Hebrew, but these are only theories.

That I can agree, too, though the theories seem both good and substantiated 
by the use of prepositions.

Back to the sophits. You know about concatenation, melec gadol - mele 
cgadol. Concatenation creates consonantal clusters. Some clusters are 
impossible to pronounce: apparently, those starting with c, z, m, n, p. 
Opera singers I consulted all confirm this. They insert a short epenthetic 
sound to break such clusters. That is what Hebrew speakers apparently also 
did. Thus, melec(u) gadol. In other words, some consonants were (and are) 
always followed by epenthetic vowel in word-final positions for clear 
pronunciation. Sophit forms reflect that peculiar pronunciation with 
epenthetic vowel. Sophit forms are peculiarly elongated, suggesting that 
instead of the now-used (in singing) epenthetic vowel the word-final 
consonants might be elongated: meleh:hgadol.

Note that word connectors are common, even Jack's favorite Tagalog.

Vadim Cherny

>>> To try to test my theory that Hebrew originally had only a
>> CV structure, and those at the end of words were usually
>> unstressed
>> That is kind of obvious. Does anyone really disputes the CV structure in
>> proto-Semitic?
>> Also note sophits, remnants of unstressed final vowels. Also, case 
>> endings.
>> Vadim Cherny
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