[b-hebrew] Translating - some elementary questions

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Oct 2 15:42:26 EDT 2006

On 10/1/06, Bob MacDonald wrote:

> 1) Lambdin (p 200) did not list the construct plural as eyney but as eynot;
> though he shows eyn (ayin- .. - yod - nun) as a construct singular (is that
> .. a reduced segol? .. instead of ...); the .. yod that follows the nun
> perhaps is just missing from Lambdin's list, a misprint or oversight, or is
> it helping to join to the following word like an elision in English?

The word (ayin means both "fountain" and "eye."  When used in the
sense of "eyes", it only comes in a dual or singular.  The dual is the
same for both masculine and feminine, and in the construct cannot
be differentiated from the construct masculine plural.  But, this word
is feminine, so the construct dual appears as (eyney -- like the regular
masculine plural -- , and the construct plural as (eynoth.

> I suspect also that the vowel pointing is much later than the original
> poetry. To what extent is 'such pointing' an overlay of tradition? And
> perhaps an overlay inviting a controlled response to the poetry... (Not that
> there should not be some controls - even the poet would allow that.)

Don't suspect that.  Vowel pointing was performed later, and the vowels
that you read represent in most cases a much later tradition than the
unpointed text itself.  However, even the unpointed text, in rare cases,
did develop and these cases are sometimes related to the vowel.
Furthermore, even the unpointed text was meant to be read with some
vocalization.  It's best, especially for you at this point, to read the text
with the vocalization of the Massoretes, and to be able to identify all
the tiny differences those vowels make.

> 2) Your transcriptions here will take me some more time to fathom.

I shouldn't have discussed the qamats qatan with you.  It just bothered
my eyes to read ")aklam".  If you can, do try to follow that unstressed closed
syllable rule.

> Again here the construct eluded my defocussed eye. Will I find a construct
> wherever there are two adjacent nouns?

No.  But a construct is always adjacent to something after it.

> This form of concatenation seems very
> powerful and semantically suggestive. The question occurs to me that, the
> pointing being late, the original poet must have been expressing a
> relationship between nouns that is known from their sequence and the
> concatenation + suffix changes would tip the reader/hearer to the construct
> even without the pointing.

Maybe.  The suffixes evidently helped identify the vocalization for a reader
of the consonantal text.  But the word was read with a vocalization in any

> 3) 'To them' How simple! And here I was looking up a root LHM! :)

It occurs to me that you would benefit from Christopher Kimball's site:


You can list the text morphologically, and thus identify which parts are
prefixes, and which form the root word.

> 4) Lambdin calls the distinction qamats and qamats hatup 'a' vs 'o' and he
> says something in the pre-lesson (p XXVI) about using 'o' for a closed,
> unaccented syllable. [tricky to tell the computer where the accent is!]
> I can't find qamatz qatan in Lambdin at the moment.

That unstressed closed rule is the qamats qatan, probably, perhaps with
some exceptions like Peter noted.

Yitzhak Sapir

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