[b-hebrew] Masoretic Pointing and CV-syllables

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Aug 18 18:05:36 EDT 2007

On 8/18/07, Peter Bekins wrote:
> Tiberian Hebrew is a convenient standard for Biblical Hebrew.

It is also the most authentic and complete reproduction.  Tiberian
Hebrew represents an authentic tradition of Hebrew that was passed
down even as Hebrew ceased to be spoken.  Even the fact that
Tiberian Hebrew won out against other vocalization schemes is
a result of the scholarship of Tiberias -- where Jerusalem's scholars
fled after they were expelled from Jerusalem.

> For example, we learn from Dr Comninos
> example that X"+:) "sin" is a qitl type with an i-theme vowel, which
> distinguishes it from other words built from the root X+). 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".

D$) [dɛ$ɛ] is a qatl segholate, at least according to Joshua Fox, Isolated
Nouns in the Semitic Languages, ZAH 11/1, p. 16.  It is possible, I guess
that some forms were influenced by the $in so that the form sometimes
acted as a qitl-segholate, but in the Bible, it seems there is no other forms
than the basic noun form.

> There is a basic three-way alternation in Semitic languages between
> the vowels a-i-u. Tiberian Hebrew also distinguishes e and o classes.

Northwest Semitic already distinguished o, from aw > o (holam).  Ugaritic,
Phoenician, and Moabite, also distinguished e, and this was absorbed
in Hebrew possibly due to the influence of Mishnaic Hebrew, which
likely evolved from a dialect that also had ay > e (tsere).  Tiberian Hebrew
further distinguished ɛ (seghol) and ɔ (qamats).

> Next, analyzing syllable formation is actually quite complicated for
> something that seems so obvious. Linguists have indeed posited CV-
> only systems, but they allow the vowel to be [null]. Hence, if there
> was originally a final case vowel, Dr Comninos example could be
> analyzed as [X"]-[+:]-[)U], where the silent shwa marks null vowel.

Karl has been given ample evidence that Hebrew is not, nor ever was,
a CV language in the sense that he means it.  Karl prides himself in
not learning other cognate languages and has refused to take the time
to even review them even though they seem to have clear relevance for
his arguments.  He now brings evidence from Akkadian, albeit from a
60 year old book with Akkadian transcriptions, but this is still
significant because he has consistently denied the validity of
transcriptions in cognate languages as evidence.  (Thus, he has
denied the validity of Egyptian transcriptions for Shin and Sin but
apparently accepts Akkadian transcriptions for his CV theory).  From
Gershon Galil's Israel and Assyria (2001, but awarded a 1998 Dan
Bahat prize?), we have the following transcriptions - Omri = hu-um-ri-i,
Damascus = URU di-ma-a'$-qi, Ashdod = As-du-di/du.  But Karl just
refuses any evidence, the conclusions of which contradict what he

Yitzhak Sapir

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