[b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Sat Oct 29 17:00:26 EDT 2005


This is exactly what we get, when we freeze spelling while 
pronunciation changes. We have people having no 
problem understanding written communication, but the 
pronunciation can sometimes be unintelligible.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Read, James C" <K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk>
> How do you define sloppy?
Much like my son, lips sort of medium apart with little 
movement, consonants indistinct, vowels melding into 
each other with little distinction between them, often I 
don't understand him.

> .... English alphabet is not 100% phonetic.
Hasn't been for centuries, since spelling was largely 
frozen hundreds of years ago. Maybe we should be 
surprised that it is not worse.

> How do you pronounce this?:
> ghoti
> Take the 'gh' from rough the 'ti' from education and the 'o' from women
> and it comes out as fish.
Except the "o" from women is pronounced as "ou" in 
would or should, there's no fish there. Maybe in your 
dialect it is so pronounced, but not the way I was taught.

> 'But' is another example. It has two pronunciations depending on whether
> or not it is emphatic. Go and check the phonetics in any good dictionary
> and you will see for yourself.
Again dialectal. I have heard only one pronunciation for 
"but". (No I don't listen to BBC.)

> .... A,E,I,O,U can
> all be pronounced as schewa:
> e of hunter

In MidWest American English, the "e" in "er", "i" in "ir" and 
often "o" in "or" have all lost their pronunciations, so 
"hunter" is pronounced "huntr", "flirt" as "flrt" and "worse" 
as "wrs". No schewa there.

> second o of bosom

Maybe the only example of these that fits your claim.

> a of lava or java

Both pronounced as "a" in "father". (fadhr) (lava, jæva)

> i of flirt
> u of posture
Pronounced as "paschoor" with the same "oo" as in Coors 

> That is why all good dictionaries have phonetic spelling. Because otherwise
> foreign students of English would not have a prayer of learning it well.
;-) It seems as if a dictionary destined for the British market 
may have different pronunciations than one for the 
American. Do you suppose that one destined for the 
Australian and New Zealand markets may differ yet 
again? If these different dialects were phonetically written, 
would they be considered different languages?

Years ago, I was told that MidWestern American English 
retained features that British English dropped decades 
ago, but I wasn't told which features. Apparently some 
pronunciations were some of them?

(-: So much for English :-)

> I believe that a similar phenomenon has happened with b-hebrew. That initially
> every syllable had a vowel which reduced to schewa through either laziness
> or the need to communicate faster. The masoretes simply wrote what they heard
> and as they heard a schewa they wrote one. If English was not already written
> in stone and we had to invent a logical phonetic system we would likely do the
> same thing. But as tradition teaches us that hunter has an E and java has an A
> we continue in this tradition of inconsistent usage of graphemes.
Here is where we agree. Except I take it a step further and 
say that what you wrote above is accurate for vowels, but 
because of frozen spelling, change occurred among the 
consonants as well, which is why we have begad kepat 
and other such.

I have never claimed that the Masoretes invented their 
pronunciations out of whole cloth, rather they invented a 
system to record what they heard. But what they heard 
was far different from what King David spoke. I think that 
at King David's time, the language still had a CV 
construction, each grapheme representing a consonant 
followed by a vowel, but that was lost after the Babylonian 
exile, if not already weakened earlier. Too bad we don't 
have native speakers to question.

Karl W. Randolph.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Karl Randolph
> James:
> Which dialect of English are you speaking? The way I
> was taught to speak, and which I continue to use, is to
> pronounce all three examples exactly the same, and
> exactly the same as "two" and "too". Your final example
> shows how a person will slow down and pronounce "to"
> correctly to clear up misunderstanding caused by sloppy
> pronunciation.
> In literature writers sometimes misspell "to" to follow the
> sloppy pronunciation that many people use, but it is
> recognized that such pronunciation is nonstandard.
> This goes back to the questions of Greek transliterations
> of Hebrew and Hebrew pronunciations, but we don't need
> to go into that again.
> Karl W. Randolph.

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