[b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; Ashkenazi pronunciation; was: Translating

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Tue Oct 3 14:01:46 EDT 2006

There is no doubt that the Masoretes pronounced kamatz and kamatz katan
similarly. They invented plenty of marks and vowels, and wouldn't mark two
different vowels similarly.
Again no doubt, they pronounced kamatz as [a]. It become [o] with the
Germanic initial stress shift. I detailed the process at the end of this
message: davAr - dAvar - dA:var - dOv'r dOivor (first kamatz - long o,
second kamatz - short o).

Vadim Cherny

I think that the real question about the Kamatz katan is not when its
pronounced - the rules are pretty clear, though there are different
customs. The real question is, why the mesoretes used the same symbol for
two different (albeit related) vowels: the long a and the short o. Could it
be that THEY pronounced them both the same? If so, how, as a long a or as a
short o?

Yigal Levin

Original Message:
From: Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 10:36:51 +0300
To: yitzhaksapir at gmail.com, b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; Ashkenazi pronunciation;was:

From: "Yitzhak Sapir"
> 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
> in ")okel" apparently became the "ow" of a "qamats".

The difference between kamatz and kamatz katan is rather simple.
Kamatz becomes katan in closed unaccented syllables.
Long a shortens to short o. [Long a elongates to au - long o. Similarly,
short a + u produces short o.]

The difference between Sephardi and Ashkenazi is also clear. It relates to
Germanized initial stress shift.
davAr - dAvar (initial stress shift of Germanized pronunciation) - dA:var
(elongation of open stressed vowel) - dOvar (a: - au - o) - dOv'r
(post-tonic vowel reduced without gemination). Now, there appears a problem
that two similar kamatz in davar are read differently. To solve that, open
stressed syllable is closed with iod which protects the next vowel, dOv'r -
dOivor. First o is long, the second is short.

I discuss those transformations at the end of

Vadim Cherny

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