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

Garth Grenache garthgrenache at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 29 22:45:50 EDT 2007

Dear Karl and all,

Thanks for your request for clarification.  I just noticed it, so I'm 
replying very late -my apologies.

What I am suggesting is that there was a pre-exilic(?) Hebrew which was 
similar in rhythm to Arabic, where words are generally one beat per 
CONSONANT release. E.g. Arabic Yaktubu = Ya-KT-TU-BU -four beats, one per 
consonant.  Salaam = Sa-la-a-m -4 beats = one beat per consonant released 
and one for the long vowel.

I am also suggesting that post-exilic(?) Hebrew was similar in rhythm to 
Aramaic, where words are divide into one beat per SYLLABLE.  E.g. Aramaic 
Nik-tob -two beats. Shla-ma -two beats.

I am not asserting that either the prose or poetic passages were originally 
read to such a rhythm without break or emphasis, but rather that the natural 
rhythm of each independent word of the language was so reckoned.  When words 
are put together into speaking, the natural rhythm of them may be modified 
or lost or even superseded with another intended rhythm.  [The prose might 
not demand a rhythm -the prose may have been read however was easiest, or in 
whatever way emphasised what the reader wanted to emphasize -not necessarily 
to a rhythm at all.  The poetic passages might demand a rhythm, and the 
natural rhythm of the words may have been 'made to fit' the desired rhythm: 
I'm not asserting that the poetry was sounded simply according to the 
natural rhythim of the language.  I am simply suggesting that there was a 
natural rhythm of the language, that once gave a beat per consonant 
released, two beats per geminate consonants, two beats per long vowel... but 
that in post-exilic Hebrew this original rhythm is modified into another 
rhythm which divides the word into syllables, and pronounces each on the 
beat, having an equalising effect on the length of each syllable.]  For 
example, in pre-exilic Hebrew, if you were to ask them to sound out "my 
peace" they would say "Sha-la-a-mi-i" (5 beats) not "shla-mi" (two beats), 
as they would reckon it in post-exilic times.  This is how I suppose 
propretonic shwas came about: they occur in syllables which were originally 
open and with short vowels, whenever those syllables' vowels are not 
lengthened into a full beat-syllable.  When a short vowel is lengthened to 
fill the beat-syllable, it's sound becomes different from that of a closed 

Have I answered your question, and clarified the notion?
If so, what are your thoughts on this?

Love from Garth.

> Message: 4
> Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 14:57:59 -0700
> From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] pre-exilic(?) Hebrew a CV-beat language.
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Message-ID:
> <acd782170708201457n759a46few6365bee1b7a4935f at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> Dear Garth:
> On 8/20/07, Garth Grenache <garthgrenache at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.
>> ...
>> Love from Garth.
> Hold on to that for a second. Do you mean all of Biblical Hebrew, or
> only the poetic sections?
> I noticed that the poetic sections, for example Isaiah is mostly
> written in poetic beat, reading the text pronouncing all (or almost
> all) syllables as CV usually gives a definite beat.
> But then I look at examples like Genesis 1?2:4, and that is prose;
> other than a few verses, there's no beat at all. You can try using the
> Tiberian tradition, and again no beat. If you say that some consonants
> may close a syllable, while others not, maybe you could tease a beat
> out of that chapter, but which consonants may close a syllable (have a
> null vowel) and which require an expressed following vowel?
> I am not arguing against your proposal, merely asking for more 
> clarification.
> Karl W. Randolph.

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