[b-hebrew] phonetic writing, was Initial "Beged Kefet" consonants always have a...

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Oct 21 10:56:34 EDT 2005


Except in the rare cases where the non-native speaker is 
able to learn and speak a foreign language like a native 
speaker, his spelling, if he writes phonetically, will reflect 
his wrong pronunciation and not the correct pronunciation 
of the native speaker.

A humorous example from the last century was the 
"Katzenjammer Kids" cartoon's spellings of the immigrant 
parents' English.

Now we have gotten onto a tangent in discussing Greek 
pronunciation, but we find that it had a few similar 
sounding vowels, epsilon, eta and iota, along with 
diphthongs like EI which I suspect originally was 
pronounced similar to "e'ee" which has no similar 
diphthong in English. When spoken quickly, sloppily or 
accented like a "furriner" as a monophthong, it would 
sound either more like an eta or iota depending on which 
part of the diphthong was emphasized, hence its 
"misspellings" as eta or iota. Later the foreign accents 
became mainstreamed by the Byzantine empire, which 
would affect the pronunciations also in Greece itself.

Now getting back to Hebrew, did Biblical Hebrew have 
diphthongs? I know that Tiberian Hebrew had at least 
one, but did Biblical Hebrew? How would we know? Is it 
possible that the Aleph originally was a symbol indicating 
a diphthong? We know that it had phonemic difference 
from Eyin, which was a full glottal stop at least.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kevin Riley" <klriley at alphalink.com.au>
>   ...  I would have
> thought that non-native speakers would provide good evidence as they are
> less likely to know the spelling conventions.
> Kevin Riley

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