[b-hebrew] CV syllables, was music in Hebrew

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Fri Jan 27 09:15:34 EST 2006

2006/1/27, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>:
> On 1/26/06, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >  Herman:
> >
> > For me, it was when I started reading Tanakh without
> > points, that I started questioning the BGDKPT consonants,
> > whether or not they have "hard" and "soft" sounds. But if
> > they have only hard sounds, then there are many words
> > that would be impossible to pronounce without an
> > intervening vowel. Other evidences include letters like
> > eyin and alep, in order to be recognizable, would have
> > had to end with a vowel sound.
Yitzhak says:
> Ayin does not need to "end with a vowel sound" to be
> recognizable.  What words of the reconstructed forms of
> segholate words (as accepted by comparative linguistics
> of Semitic) -- malku, sipru, qud$u -- are hard to pronounce
> if bgdkpt only had "hard" sounds?  In which position is an
> Ayin (either ayin or ghayin) or He not pronouncable?  In
> which position would an Aleph not be recognizable?

I agree with you, Yitzhak. Even in British English, a language "next
door" to me, an "alef" (=glottal stop, or "hamz") is often pronounced,
wether in the beginning, middle or end of a word. Take the way many
British people prounounce words like letter, better, bottle, lot, get,
or a clause like "it won't get any better", pronounced something like
le'uh, be'uh, la', ge', and 'i won' ge' any be'uh. Full of glottal

And the fact that our European languages are not reported to have an
`ayin doesn't mean certain Semitic languages don't. The `ayin was not
pronounced anymore by the Masoretes by the way, it was "replaced" with
an /a/ sound, hence רוח is written with a "patach furtivum",
pronounced [rua], not *ruach.

Needless to say, I tend to support the general outline of comparative
linguistics in this case. It is perfectly plausible, if we have masor.
Hebr. melekh, Ar. malkun, Aram. malka, to reconstruct the original
Hebrew to have been *malk(u). But we don't even need the other
languages in this case, because the construct form is malki, malkenu
etc. and the construct form naturally gives us the older form.

Even Dutch offers a parallel to Hebrew. In Hebrew, *malk(u) ~> *malk
~> melekh. In Dutch, the word /melk/ (=Engl. milk) has led to the
pronounciation [mèluk] (not written this way, only pronounced).
Exactly the same thing. In several Arabic dialects, the "segolates"
develop the same thing: a word like /dars/ is often pronounced


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