[b-hebrew] "their mouth" compared to "their fruit"

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Feb 6 10:21:29 EST 2007


Dear Kenneth,
“Why” is a delicate question in Hebrew grammar. Notice that the special
structure observed for PEH, ‘mouth’, occurs also in the other ancient words:
AV, ‘father’, AX, ‘brother’ and XAM, ‘father-in-law’. Thus: PIHEM, AVIHEM,
AXIHEM, XAMIHEM. Hebrew declension is a noun plus personal pronouns. It
stands to reason that at first they were distinct words, then with time, as
a result of heavy use, rapid talk and the eventual removal of spaces in
script they were fused into one word. In this sense AVIHEM = AV + I + HEM is
perfect; HEM being unmistakably ‘they’. The question is what is this ‘I’
stuck after AV? One may argue that at some historical stage of the Hebrew
language AV was AVI (such as ADI, GDI, PRI, and so on), or one may argue
that this ‘I’ is just a phonetic prop to avoid an awkward *AVHEM. I tend to
think that this ‘I = HI’ is the personal pronoun ‘he’, designed to turn
‘they’ into ‘their’. In PAR, ‘ox’, the possessive form collapsed from the
ideal *PARIHEM to PARAM = PAR + AM, ‘their ox’, but the plural is saved in
all its glory: PAREYHEM. I think that the ‘EY’ is a double ‘I’, short for a
double ‘he’. Thus: PAREYHEM = PAR + I + I + HEM, with one ‘he’ denoting
plural, and the other having the function mentioned above. 

We easily forgive the Hebrews who turned DEGEL, (2 vowels) ‘flag’, into
DIGLAM, (2 vowels) ‘their flag’, rather then *DEGELIHEM (4 vowels).
Isaac Fried, Boston University

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of kenneth greifer
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 2:55 PM
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] "their mouth" compared to "their fruit"

"Their mouth" is usually spelled pay yud hay mem or pay yud mem vav, and 
"their fruit" is spelled pay resh yud hay mem (Amos 9:14) and pay resh yud 
mem (Isaiah 65:21). Is there some kind of a grammatical reason why "their 
mouth" is not spelled pay yud mem?

Kenneth Greifer
USA

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