[b-hebrew] Translating - some elementary questions

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Oct 1 03:45:35 EDT 2006

On 10/1/06, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

> Why is this so?  My working explanation is starts with the fact that
> among the many situations in Semitic that later developed to a qamatz
> in Hebrew, is a large class of instances that had a long "a".  Hebrew
> Phoenician, and Canaanite developed long "a" into "o".  Aramaic and
> Arabic did not.  The qamatz was part of this "long a to o" change.  This
> is the point where the Massoretes codified the vowels, so this is the
> stage the vowels represent.  It appears to me, that later, probably under
> Arabic influence (which did not have the long a to o change), the words
> which had Arabic parallels with a long a, were reread with the qamats
> signifying "long a" again.  In non-Arabic speaking countries, this did not
> happen.  This change is one of the basic differences between "Ashkenazi"
> pronunciation and "Sefardi" pronunciation, Sefardi signifying spain and
> Arabic speaking countries, while Ashkanzi signifies other European
> countries.  However, the Massoretes also used a qamats in situations
> that originally developed from other "non long a" cases.  The Arabic did
> not have a "long a" in those cases and so did not influence the reading of
> Hebrew.   Those are the situations of "qamats qatan", where the original
> qamats sound of "ow" remained.  This is one such case.  The original
> Semitic root behind this word is ")ukl", and this developed in Biblical
> Hebrew, without a suffix, as ")okel".  Here, because of the suffix, the "o"
> in ")okel" apparently became the "ow" of a "qamats".

Having actually looked up evidence now, I need to correct that above
explanation.  Like the "long a to o" shift, Phoenician had a similar shift in
"short a".  Hebrew probably did too.  The qamats represents those situations
that "short a" became "o" among others.  Under Arabic influence, those "short
a" cases that became "o" were now read as "a" again.

Yitzhak Sapir

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