[b-hebrew] pre-exilic(?) Hebrew a CV-beat language.

Garth Grenache garthgrenache at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 20 10:08:57 EDT 2007


Dear all,

What Peter Bekins is saying mirrors the conclusions I've been reaching recently: i.e. that Semitic (and pre-exilic Hebrew) was made up of CV- segments, pronounced on a beat. 

BUT, I am not suggesting that every CV had a V, or even that every CV had a C. 

The V may be null, so that the consonant passes to another consonant without a vowel (phoneme) between, YA-KT-TU-B(U). Doubled (Geminate) consonants represent CVCV where the first V is null, eg. 'I-MM-M(U). If a vowel is long (there were three long vowels: â (>Hebrew ô), î, û) it represents CVCV where the second consonant's place is filled by the V, i.e. SA-LA-AA-M(U) / SA-LO-OO-M(U) .  So then, what Peter Bekins is calling "CV syllables" is what I'm calling 'beats'.  In Yaktubu, there are four beats:  YA-KT-TU-BU.  [In post-exilic(I'm suggesting, due to the influence of Aramaic; I'm considering the 'rule of shewa' in both Aramaic and Hebrew, that c:c:c:c:- becomes cic-cic- as evidence for this; also vowel lengthening in open syllables...) Hebrew the language becomes reformated into syllables, e.g. YIK-TOB.]

I've invented a way of writing words in this 'beat' system, which I'd like to share with you.  It requires Courier or another evenly spaced font.



1.  List the consonants and long vowels, [Two consonants for geminate consonants.]:
BR' YHW SMY W'RL.  SLAM L'MM.

2. List the short vowels under each consonant:
BR' YHW SMY W'RL.  SLAM L'MM.
AAA A A AAU AA U   A  U II U

3. Fill the gaps within words: where there is no short vowel, put the following consonant into the second line; where the vowel is long, fill the gap below it and before it.:
BR' YHW SMY W'RL.  SLAM L'MM. 
AAA AWA AAU AALU   AAAU IIMU

Now you have a list of events that occur on the beat.  
B
A
..means say "ba" on this beat,
R
A
..means say "ra".
LA
AA... means say "la" on one beat and then keep saying 'aa' on the second beat -it is a long vowel.

'MM
IMU
.. means say " 'i" on the first beat, "mm" on the second and release the m on the third beat by saying "mu".  That is a geminate or doubled consonant.


[Material relevant to my suggested pronunciation of YHWH:  Do you get the idea?  So I've been saying "Yahwa" and meaning, YA-HW-WA  -not because it is three syllables (it isn't 3; it is 2 syllables, because it has two vowels).  But "Yahwa" is three consonant releases [and no long vowels] therefore 3 beats: 3x CV-, but the middle CV has null vowel.]

This seems to be how Proto-Semitic and Central Semitic worked, and seems to be how Arabic works today.

I suggest it may have been how Biblical Hebrew worked even as far as just before the exile.


To answer a question that has been asked, I certainly DON'T believe that Akkadian writing would represent these CV beats with individual signs (one per beat).  It cannot, because Akkadian has no signs for single consonants.  It also apparently doesn't use single signs for all CVC syllables, and thus needs to write CV-VC to represent a closed syllable.  Akkadian writing was not designed for writing Semitic -it was adopted from use with Sumerian, a non-Semitic language.  Abjads are more suitable for writing Semitic, but I would suggest the ideal Semitic script would have maters for all long vowels, and would mark geminate consonants twice.  In this way each sign would represent a beat.


Love from Garth.


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list