[b-hebrew] final alef

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Aug 18 17:23:48 EDT 2007

I tend to agree - the aleph is there because it was meant to be pronounced 
as a gluttal stop (not as a "silent letter"). From both the Bible and 
especially inscriptions, it would seem that the mater lectionis that was 
used for the final "O" (once these entered Hebrew orthography) was actually 
he (as preserved in names such as "Shiloh" and "Shelomoh"). Also, what's the 
relationship between l) (lamed aleph) and l)w (lamed aleph waw)? Is the 
former an abbreviation of the latter? Or was l) spelt with an aleph to 
distinguish it from its homonym lw (lamed waw) - "for/to him"?

As long as Uri brought modern Hebrew into the discussion, an interesting 
fact: in modern Hebrew, when one wishes to emphasize a word in speach, one 
will often say the word and then add "im ---- rabbatti!" - "with a 
big ----!" - the "---" being the initial letter of the emphasized word. 
There's no question in my mind that this expression was taken directly from 
European languages, probably from English, as in "No with a capital N!". 
However, in the case of the word "no", the common expression is "Lo im aleph 
rabbatti!", emphasizing the second letter in the word, that distinguishes l) 
from lw.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Uri Hurwitz" <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, August 17, 2007 8:48 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] final alef

>  Well, it depends how far back one wishes to go in  time when the 
> consonantal spelling started. The assumption that those who put down an 
> Aleph  indicated something they heard is defintely tenable.
>    Let's take as an example the Heb.  'he' or 'she', "Hu)" "Hy)", in both 
> cases the Alephs are silent. Now,  the Arabic  for these is"hua" and 
> "hiya" , in both cases there is a final wovel; vestiges of this ancient 
> pronounciation is represented in the biblical  Alephs.
>   It may be interesting  to note that in modern Heb. speech the Aleph in 
> the negation "LO"
>  is of course silent. However when this is used emphatically as "No!" the 
> Aleph often becomes a gluttal stop, and can be heard as such, though 
> native speakers are hardly aware of it. How about  this, Yigal?
>  Uri Hurwitz                                        At present 
> Wilmington, VT
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