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

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Tue Jan 31 17:21:10 EST 2006

2006/1/31, Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com>:
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Herman Meester" <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
> >
> > Shalom chevre ;)
> >
> > ...>
> > One thing that, imho, is impossible is the idea that words like Ruach
> > and Shavua` were ever originally *Rucha or *Shavu`a, as Karl
> > suggested.
> Why?

It is quite possible that Hebrew once had (no longer visible) case
endings, in the same way modern standard Arabic (on the higher
stylistic level at least) still has.
However, if we have original case endings that have ossified and no
longer function as case endings, such as the word layla לילה, which is
probable the "accusative" of layl ליל, cf.  יומם ולילה yomam wa-layla,
then this is indicated with a mater lectionis ה hey.

The fact that לילה layla, unlike feminine words ending on -a ה, has
penultimate stress, proves this. Therefore it is very unlikely that
ruach רוח or shavua` שבוע are of a similar kind. First we would expect
a ה hey ending a word *rucha, whatever its stress. Second, we could
not explain how the "accusative" -a- ending would have ended up in a
word like רוח. Unlike in the case of  layla לילה an accusative of time
or place is very unlikely for a word like רוח. Third, Hebrew doesn't
have real open syllables that have patach. And I guess there are a few
more reasons.

I think we can conclude that the only reason for the patach to be
there in words like שבוע, רוח, גבוה shavua`, ruach, gavoah is to
compensate for the disappearing/disappeared gutturals, and has nothing
to do with the syllable structure. Naturally, if we take a look at the
Psalms, a word like ruach רוח (as far as we can reconstruct for sure,
so disregarding any forever invisible case endings) has only one
syllable, שבוע shavua` and גבוה gavoah have two syllables, etcetera.


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list