[b-hebrew] Segol etc.

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Fri Oct 6 14:16:08 EDT 2006

> >Segol is not a short tzere. Segol occurs in one and only one instance: in
> >epenthesis (cotevt - cotevet, calb - celev, etc).
> I do not think this is right.
> For example, many words, such as Aleph-taf (accusative marker), are
> pointed with tzere in isolation, and with segol when part of the
> following word.

et does not exist as stand-alone word. Its tzere is entirely artificial. In
all likelyhood, tzere in et is aleph-modified kamatz, like in any other
preposition. You can see the vocalization of preposition in constructs with
monosyllabic pronouns, such as lAnu.
The case of et is clear: et is attached to the next word, and lacks its own
accent. The vowel under aleph should reduce to schwa (because of the stress

Besides, et is a very specific case. Any examples of regular words?

> Similarly, final Heh is verbal forms is often preceded by segol
> (ro'eh, yiv'neh, etc.), even though certainly there can be no
> epenthesis at the end of a word.

Again, this is a specific case. Why, by the way, there couldn't be
epenthesis at the word end? cotevt - cotevet.
The case for segol before final hey is simple: final hey is a root
consonant, unlike mater lectionis for [a] in suffixes, and it affects
lagging vowel, making it [e]-like.

The important thing about seghol is that it occurs either in specific
epenthetic positions, or with specific consonants. No other vowel is relates
to specific consonants. Thus, we can be pretty certain of the allophony.

> >Segol, therefore, is a short indeterminate sound, sort of Russian ?
> >or French apostrophe.
> Even if segol were only epenthetic, the reasoning here would be
> faulty.  The sound of an epenthetic vowel cannot be deduced from its
> role in epenthesis.  Spanish has an epenthetic vowel /e/, while the
> real epenthetic vowel in Hebrew is /i/.  (This is why we find
> lishmu'el "to Samuel," for lshmu'el.)

Epenthetic hirek is one of the few Masoretic inventions. LXX clearly shows
variations. Given the variations of [a] and short [e] in the LXX, and [i] of
the MT, the sound was close to [e]. The Masoretes marked epenthesis with
hirek in word-beginning, and with segol elsewhere. The difference perhaps is
that vocal schwa (from reduction) in word-beginning makes epenthetic vowel
longer, thus [i]. Elsewhere, epenthesis is pure - there was no other vowel
in its place (cotevt - cotevet) - and the epenthetic sound is shorter, segol
instead of hirek.
liShmuel relates to the first schwa in Schmuel, l'sh'muel - lishmuel

> >Short tzere and holam are patah, hirek, or shuruk. Consider hitlabEsh -
> >hitlabAsh.ti, gadOl - gdUl.lA.
> But again, hitlab[tzere]sh becomes hitlab[segol]sh before a maqaf.

But the word shortens in between because of the stress shift on the second
word joined by maqef (like in cosntructus). Segol is the expanded schwa, not
shortened tzere.

Vadim Cherny

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