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

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Jan 31 18:58:47 EST 2006


Herman:

Thanks for your response. But now my disagreement.

First of all, is not that a final he, as in LYLH, is presently a 
mater lectionis a relatively recent phenomenon? Without 
native speakers of Biblical Hebrew to interview, how can 
we be sure that our modern pronunciation is even close to 
Biblical pronunciation? If all syllables have a CV structure, 
the accusative would have been indicated not by an open 
-a sound as in modern pronunciation with the he as a 
mater lectionis, rather the he would be pronounced, 
followed by a vowel, would it not?

Today Japanese is officially a CV language, but when I 
listen to radio programs on a local station, when the 
announcer speaks quickly, many of the unstressed 
vowels simply disappear. I can imagine that much the 
same happened to Hebrew unstressed vowels. 
Particularly those at the ends of words.

I will close with what I have said all along, that I am not 
100% convinced that Biblical Hebrew was a CV 
language, rather I am throwing this out as a discussion. 
But I'm not finding convincing arguments against the 
proposition either.

Thanks again.

Karl W. Randolph. 

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Herman Meester" <crazymulgogi at gmail.com>
> 
> 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.
> 
> Regards,
> Herman

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