[b-hebrew] Was Schewa really silent?

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Fri Aug 31 14:35:24 EDT 2007


Raoul,

1. I know that a second Schwa coming before a "guttural" is difficult  
to pronounce without an added E, for example, YI$[ ]L[ ]XU, 'they  
will send' or YI$[ ]M[ ](U, 'they will hear', which are routinely  
pronounced [even by me] YI$[ ]L[E]XU and YI$[ ]M[E](U, but this has  
nothing to do with the issue of the "Schwa NA" and "Schwa NAX" but  
rather with the articulation of the following  letters. Yet YIR[ ]K[ ] 
BU, 'they will ride', is very fine, in my opinion. Send me please  
another example of a Hebrew word with a Schwa that must be "moved".
2. The, misguided, concept of "Schwa NA" is a license to turn Hebrew  
into an EEE language. See how crisp, measured and beautiful is V[ ]RIN 
[ ]NU of Jeremiah 13:11, as compared to the slushy V[E]RIN[E]NU,  
which is with four vowels [Hebrew speakers have no use for "half"  
vowels].
3. Hebrew speakers tend nowadays to deconstruct the prepositioned  
Schwaic V, B, K, L, M, intuitively recognizing that they are but the  
curtailed words VEH, BEH, KEH, LEH, MEH. And I like it. Thus, they  
clearly pronounce B[ ]TOK, 'inside', as BE-TOK. Yet they pronounce B 
[ ]KOR, 'first-born', in which the opening B is radical, as BKOR,  
without even a hint of "movement".
No my book does not deal with this issue as it is irrelevant to its  
main theme.
E-mail me, please, the paper by William Chomsky: "THE PRONUNCIATION  
OF THE SHEWA", even though I have no use also for "long vowels" and  
"short vowels".
I am glad you are willing to review my book for amazon.com. I will  
send you a gift copy but meanwhile you can find its entire content in
www.hebrewetymology.com.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Aug 31, 2007, at 12:20 PM, Dr Raoul Comninos wrote:

> Am I understanding your correctly that you are arguing shewa is never
> vocal? I would love to hear you read a text of the Hebrew Bible to see
> what you do with shewa, to see what you do with shewa in practice. Is
> it too much to ask that you record a few lines in a wmv file and email
> them to me? Do you deal with any of these issues in your book?
>
> On 8/31/07, Isaac Fried <if at math.bu.edu> wrote:
>> James,
>>
>> The whole business of Schwa NA and Schwa NAX is in my opinion
>> baloney. It is a historical misunderstanding and is one of the many
>> ghosts cozily and imperturbably inhabiting the dim corners of Hebrew
>> grammar. It got now to the point of becoming a religious question of
>> how to properly recite the prayers, with some Hebrew prayer books
>> marking what they think needs to be "moved".
>> There is only one Schwa and it is but an indication to put a tiny
>> hiatus or pause after the marked consonant. Since this requires
>> phonetic discipline some find it easier to sloppily insert a thin,
>> and ugly, E into this gap, phonetically disfiguring thereby the
>> Hebrew language.
>> Thus: XAL[ ]LEI not XAL[E]LEI, CIL[ ]LEI not CIL[E]LEI, UMAD[ ]DU,
>> not UMAD[E]DU, Y[ ]$AD[ ]DEM, not Y[E]$AD[E]DEM, AP[ ]PU, not AP[E] 
>> PU.
>> There is a natural tendency to place such a redundant (repugnant) E
>> after an initial schwaic L, M, N, R, Y. To wit: L[E]BENAH, 'brick', L
>> [E]BIBAH, 'cake', N[E]BIAH, 'prophetess', R[E]BABAH, 'ten thosand', Y
>> [E]SOD, 'foundation', Y[E]LADYIM, 'children', in place of L[ ] 
>> BENAH, L
>> [ ]BIBAH, N[ ]BIAH, R[ ]BABAH, Y[ ]SOD, Y[ ]LADYIM. Also if the
>> second letter is Alef, He or Ayin as in the mispronounced G[E]) 
>> ULAH, $
>> [E](ARYIM, T[E])O, M[E](ARAH, S[E](ARAH, B[E]HEMAH, D[E]HYIRAH (from
>> the root DHR, 'gallop, canter'). But $)AL, 'ask', SAD(, 'eat', $)AB
>> 'draw water', appear to be easily pronounceable as $[ ])AL, S[ ](AD
>> and $[ ])AB.
>> Cleavage of a consonant cluster may also be a myth. Even (new) words
>> such as BAR[ ]RAN, 'fastidious, choosy', from the root BRR, or XA$[ ]
>> $AN, 'apprehensive', from the root X$$, should not be pronounced BAR
>> [E]RAN, and XA$[E]$AN.
>> As far as I can recall, no Hebrew noun starts with a schwaic Alef,
>> He, Xet or Ayin , but an initial schwaic Resh is common, for
>> instance, R[ ]BABAH. There are few Hebrew nouns containing a schwaic
>> Alef such as B)[ ]$AH, 'cockle' of Job 31:40. In Isaiah 42:21 we find
>> the verbal V[ ]YA)[ ]DYIR. A schwaic He is also rare.
>> The 1 Kings 6:8 UB[ ]LULYIM, 'with winding stairs' is commonly
>> pronounced U-BE-LULIM. But Leviticus 2:5 B[ ]LULAH, 'mingled' is
>> pronounce BLULAH to indicate that this B is radical. Also M[ ]MALE)
>> is being voiced nowadays as ME-MALE( in recognition of the
>> prepositioned M being short for MI, 'he, who'.
>>
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University
[cut]
> -- 
> Dr Raoul Comninos
> 93 Wagenaar Street
> Monte Vista
> 7460
> South Africa
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>




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