[b-hebrew] final alef and Arabic

joel at exc.com joel at exc.com
Sun Aug 19 09:31:43 EDT 2007

>    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.

But there's really no reason to think that the Arabic represents more
"ancient pronunciation."  Arabic is different than Hebrew, not an
older version of Hebrew.

It is true that, thanks to meticulous recording of phonological
details by Arab grammarians, we know a lot more about the
pronunciation of Arabic in the second half of the first millenium than
we do about Hebrew, but even if we can learn something about Masoretic
Hebrew from that Arabic, it does nothing to help us understand Hebrew
from many hundreds of years earlier.


Joel M. Hoffman, PhD

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