[b-hebrew] Initial "Beged Kefet" consonants always have a...

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Mon Oct 17 13:08:01 EDT 2005

> Still, I disagree.  I think a much more plausible hypothesis is that
> The Greek LXX more accurately reflects the pronunciation in the time
> of the time of the Greeks than the Tiberian pointing.  In fact, I'm a
> little surprised than anyone takes a rendition from -250 and from +850
> and considers the later one more accurate.

The point is, however, that the LXX transliterations are reasonably 
consistent with the Masoretes. Dagesh kal is the only difference - that stop 
(useful for singing) changed syllabification, and forced loss of aspiration 
of begedkefet consonants after that stop. For example, MElha became Mil.ha 
and came to be pronounced as MIl.ca.
In other words, in the natural speech (as the Greeks heard it), begedkefet 
lost aspiration only before (and to the) stressed vowel. I would guess, 
post-tonic consonants (geminated) also lost aspiration - because of the 
post-tonic stop (dagesh hazak) which led to gemination. The Masoretes 
introduced one more stop for chanting, dagesh kal, which similarly cost the 
following consonant aspiration.
The Masoretes, however, did not invent dagesh kal out of thin air, but heard 
it in good chanting.

> In further support of the hypothesis that the LXX is more accurate, I
> note that the Tiberian Masoretes were not the only Masoretes.  The
> Eretz Yisrael and Babylonian Masoretes also recorded pronunciations of
> the Bible, but in a way inconsistent with the Tiberian Masoretes.  Is
> there any other linguistic endeavor in which we would arbitrarily
> assign more accurace to a later transcription than to a concurrent
> one?

The differences are minuscule. Say, someone ask you know to associate French 
apostrophe with a vowel. You can use e or u, or even a. Ultra-short vowels 
are very much like. It is telling, on the contrary, the Tiberian and 
Babylonian Masoretes created substantially the same phonological system.

>>tet as о└ tau - all irrespective of dagesh. The only exception in this
>>small list is the initial chi in the LXX form of Keturah, but this could
>>be influenced by a Greek phonological rule which tends to avoid
>>successive unaspirated plosives
> It's true that Greek doesn't like words that start Ket-, but Kat- is
> common, and all of Kit-, Kot- and Kut- are attested.

It is not a matter whether Greek words could start with k; of course, they 
could. It is, rather, a matter of how the Greeks heard the Jews to pronounce 
those names. (English has vowel o; but Russian names transliterated as they 
heard, would be transliterated with vowel a for Russian unaccented o.)
If the Greeks wrote Hetturah, the question is why they heard h, not k. And 
the answer is clear: aspiration in unaccented syllable.

> 2.  Double letters in the LXX do not match up with anything in TH.  (A
>    particularly striking example comes from I Chronicles 24:13:
>    XuPah [TH; P=peh with dagesh] -- Oxxoffa [LXX]).

What is so striking about it? Aspirated pey sounds like ph; post-tonic 
gemination makes it phph. Greeks took a breath before x for o, semi-stressed 
word-initial vowel (much like in French), and it geminated, too.

>>short vowels in word initial syllables have often changed from "a"
>>sounds to hiriq since the LXX translators' times, cf. LXX Samson and
>>Hebrew Shimshon - so this might explain the hiriq in Rivka (and in
>>Milcah and Bil`am), and some other vocalisation anomalies.
> I think a better explanation here is that TH regularly recorded chiriq
> between the first two of three consonants, not just RIVKA and MILCAH
> (names), but also Piel (DIBBER), infinitives (LISHMOR) etc.  This TH
> rule didn't exist in the days of the LXX.

It is just a matter of how to pronounce first of the two schwas in C'C'Cah. 
Babylonians put patah there, if I recall correctly.

Vadim Cherny 

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