[b-hebrew] Masoretic Pointing and CV-syllables

Peter Bekins pbekins at fuse.net
Sat Aug 18 15:16:57 EDT 2007


Yes, that is sort of what I was implying. The other example is $FW:).  
These forms reflect spoken language which suggests that the Masoretes  
were, at least in part, recording a tradition of pronunciation and  
not arbitrarily creating and applying phonological rules, otherwise  
we would expect these forms to have become segholates. To be sure,  
the Masoretes did synthesize phonological rules, and there is some  
levelling of the text because of this, but the text does provide  
important historical data.

BTW, you mentioned your difficulty in reading Mishnaic Hebrew.  
Mishnaic Hebrew is heavily influenced by Aramaic, in fact in some  
rabbinic passages the language switches back and forth between the  
two (which is fun when you are a beginning student). There are also  
some Greek loanwords  thrown in here and there. If you had studied  
some Aramaic or Syriac along with your Biblical Hebrew then you  
probably should have been able to figure it out, but I wouldn't quite  
make the analogy BH:MH as KJV:NIV.


On Aug 18, 2007, at 2:18 PM, K Randolph wrote:

> Pete:
> There is a simple answer to your question below, namely that words
> that are spoken often and quickly often become contracted and
> shortened over time. Thus words like X+) would have had their final
> vowel swallowed yet understood, while words that were used far less
> often such as D$) retained their final vowel for understanding. By the
> time the Masoretes wrote down their pronunciations, they recorded the
> contracted versions that were in use in their day.
> An example in English would be the use of "not" after a verb. For
> those verbs where it is not often used, or for emphasis, it is still
> fully pronounced and spelled out. But after common words such as do,
> did, would, it has long been contracted, even in writing. Now even
> those contracted spellings do not always reflect spoken
> pronunciations, where "didn't" often becomes "dint" or even "din" with
> no loss in understanding, and the same sort of swallowing occurring
> with the other common contractions, with no loss in meaning.
> That Mishnaic Hebrew would have had the same sort of contraction
> should be expected.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On 8/18/07, Peter Bekins <pbekins at fuse.net> wrote:
> ...
>> ... The
>> interesting question is why wasn't there an epenthetic vowel thrown
>> in? There are other lamed-aleph qitl segholates such as DE$E)  
>> "grass".
>> ...
>> Pete Bekins
>> Grad Student, Bible and Comparative Semitics
>> Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, OH

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