[b-hebrew] Kamatz katan

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Oct 3 19:05:40 EDT 2006

The problem with this assumption, is the plain fact that the kamatz katan fulfills a perfectly valid function. Every vowel in Hebrew has a long and short form: Tsere and segol for E, hiriq with or without a yod for I, shuruq and qubutz for U, and also Kamatz (gadol) and Patah for A. Since the "vav" of the Holam is fairly arbitrary and does not effect pronounciation, there would have to be a symbol for the short O, to be used whenever a short vowel is called for. This is especially true of  the Hataph-kamatz. In all other cases the Hataph only goes with a short vowels - Hataph patah and hataph segol. Just as there is no such thing as a hataph-tsere, the fact that there is a hataph-kamatz shows that the kamatz is meant to be a "shorth" one.

Yigal Levin
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: YODAN 
  To: leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il 
  Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 8:20 PM
  Subject: RE: [b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; Ashkenazi pronunciation;was: Translating

  I believe that it is well established that the Masoretes used an identical pronunciation for what grammarians later classified as two types of Kamatz vowels.  The Masoretic pronunciation is believed to be like the English "au" or "aw" similar to that of traditional Ashkenazi and Yemenite pronunciations of these vowels (which are pronounced identically in these two pronunciations).  


  The fact that the original symbol of kamatz (see the Leningrad Codex and Aleppo Codex) was not like a T letter (which is the current symbol of both Kamatz vowels) but, rather, as a horizontal line under which there is a dot.  This is believed to reflect the pronunciation of kamatz by the Masoretes - as something in between Patah (ah) and Holam (oh) - which is how au or aw is pronounced.


  The Sephardi pronunciation, which did not develop from the Masoretic pronunciation but, rather, from the other Israeli pronunciation (called sometimes "Palestinian" Hebrew, reflecting the name of the Land of Israel during the Roman period and beyond. having nothing to do with the current use of "Palestinian") had two different pronunciations for what the Masoretes had a single pronunciation.  The Sephardi pronunciation for kamatz that developed from an original long AH is kamatz gadol (or Rahav) and is pronounced by Sepharadim (and now also in Israeli Hebrew) like Patah, whereas the kamatz that developed from an original UH vowel is called kamatz katan (hatuf) and is pronounced in Sepharadi and Israeli Hebrew as OH (like Holam).  In practically all cases of kamatz katan there is an underlying word with kubutz or shuruk (UH) or holam (OH) vowel, and this is a useful way to recognize kamatz katan, particularly in cases where applying kamatz katan rules is not straightforward (especially when it's difficult to decide if a shva is naH or nA).


  Rivka Sherman-Gold

  Yodan Publishing


  -----Original Message-----
  From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
  Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 6:18 AM
  To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Kamatz katan; Ashkenazi pronunciation;was: Translating


  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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