[b-hebrew] music in Hebrew [was Re: Long: *Some* Bib for Bryan]

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Wed Jan 25 19:20:17 EST 2006

On 25/01/2006 17:18, Rochelle Altman wrote:

> ...
>Now, in the cases of "l-" and "b-", the MT allots the vowel to the particle 
>instead of the consonant. Why? Because it is the same vowel phoneme. In 
>fact, this allotment does not mean that the vowel attached to the aleph was 
>not enunciated; it was. Look at the pronunciation: la do nai. It was merely 
>subsumed into one phoneme.

OK, we now agree: the pronunciation is not le-'a-do-nai but la-do-nai, 
three syllables. But earlier you wrote in your "Final vowels added to 
all C" version of Psalm 96 "le Adonai", which looks like four syllables 
to me. My point was that this would have been pronounced la-do-nai, 
three syllables, and you now seem to agree.

>Rhythmically, ADNI remained three syllables.
>What I find interesting is that two examples of apocopated forms, final 
>vowels lost, "l-" and "b-" are being used here to illustrate how Hebrew 
>remained CV and never lost or reduced weak final vowels until the 
>post-exilic period.

Well, it is possible that these forms were apocopated or elided only at 
the same time as or after the final short vowels were lost, but these 
are distinct phonetic processes which did not necessarily took place at 
the same time.

>I said I had no intention of getting into this aspect; because the evidence 
>denies that Hebrew, unlike darn near every other Semitic or IE language, 
>never lost weak finals. The mechanisms of vowel loss are diverse. Note that 
>when ADNI or YHVH stands alone, apparent aphaeresis does not occur.

No one denies that Hebrew lost weak final vowels. The issue is, when? 
Arabic also lost its weak final vowels, but only after the Qur'an was 
written down. Hebrew lost its weak final vowels earlier. How much 
earlier? We don't know. It had almost certainly lost them by the end of 
the Second Temple period. But had it lost them before the time of the 
Babylonian Exile? That question is not so easily answered.

>Syncope is the most common cause of apocopation in Semitic languages -- 
>with the *second* vowel lost or reduced. Another very common mechanism is 
>apocopation by proximity, that is, loss of a vowel phoneme because two 
>vowels are perceptually the same. The apparent lack of vowel pointing for 
>the alef is apocopation by proximity -- and the wrong consonant was 
>assigned the vowel. In apocopation by proximity, it is the *first* vowel 
>that is lost; not the second.

Understood. But this is not a mistake, because the rules of Hebrew 
pointing are that unpronounced consonants are not pointed, and that 
unpointed consonants (except at word end, excluding he) are not 
pronounced. So, for la-do-nai, it must be the silent alef rather than 
the lamed which is unpointed, and so the lamed has to carry the vowel point.

>Well, Kimchi said that the Masoretes were no grammarians; it's pretty clear 
>that they had tin ears, too.
>I am sorry, I arrived at 1:00 am and have had to plow through more than 700 
>messages -- I am too tired to continue right now. Hope I'm not too 
>confusing in this note.
Thank you for your attention. I'm not sure that I follow the relevance 
of the Old English, but you make sense about the Hebrew.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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