[b-hebrew] Massoretic Vowels according to the Kitab al-Khazari

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Dec 12 00:51:20 EST 2006

On 12/11/06, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
> On 12/11/06, Vadim Cherny wrote:

> > Shewa always vocal.

> That is not what Halevi writes.  Chapter 80 in Part II is quite long.
> A translation from
> 1905 is available at: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Kitab_al_Khazari/Part_Two
> (Search for "I should like to ask whether thou knowest the reason why Jews move
> to and fro when reading the Bible?").

This appears in the same text but slightly better formatted in

The schewa is not said to be always vocal.  What the text means is
that "a schewa
can be a vowel like any of these seven qualities, under certain
conditions.  It is the
simple vowel quality without any additional lengthening, and if there
is additional
lengthening other than the simple vowel, it will have a vowelless
consonant after
it." The vowelless mater lectionis is a little system of the
Massoretes where they
identified after a long vowel a mater lectionis in all cases like in
Arabic.  However,
sometimes this vowelless mater lectionis would be "hidden" and so would not be
written, but from the Massoretes' point of view, this vowelless mater
lectionis still
existed.  Because of this vowelless mater lectionis the schewa was no longer a
schewa, because in a syllable closed by some vowelless consonant, you don't use
a schewa.  If the vowelless mater lectionis was not there, not even
hidden, but there
was some other vowelless consonant, you had a short syllable whose length was
as short as the schewa vowel, but because of the vowelless consonant, the schewa
would not be written and instead the full vowel sign would be written.
 This was
still considered "longer" than the "pure simple vowel" because the vowelless
consonant would be sounded in this case, and this sounding of the consonant was
an "additional lengthening" to the vowel/syllable.  As for the quality
of the schewa,
when a schewa was followed by a guttural, it took upon itself the vowel of the
guttural.  Thus, the word thwm is pronounced [toho:m] with the schewa taking
the quality of the vowel "o" which is everywhere else a long vowel.

Yitzhak Sapir

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