[b-hebrew] Question about Pi'el Imperfect

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu May 17 17:28:30 EDT 2007

On 5/17/07, I wrote:
> On 5/17/07, Jason Hare wrote:
> > Of course, this is NOT the case with Israeli (or Sephardic) Hebrew.

> This is why I think, it is best for a beginner (as well as expert) to
> follow and read the Bible using the Tiberian pronunciation system.
> It is the most logical thing to do if what you have is a manuscript
> vocalized in the Tiberian tradition using Tiberian vocalization marks.

I think a comparison might be to Chaucer and Beowulf.  If you want
to read it just to understand what it says, you can generally ignore
and read the vowels as you are used.  In general, you will probably
also be using a manuscript that has "modernized" spellings anyway,
and my understanding is that even the very first manuscript of
Beowulf that we have has done this so that one cannot understand
the meter without substituting more ancient forms of words.  But if
you want to understand the different conjugations, very fine issues
like why is it using this vowel in this form but a different vowel in
another form, you simply cannot relate to the vowels (or consonants)
as they are pronounced today.  You must relate to them as they
were pronounced back then.  Most Modern English speakers won't
understand what you're saying, but it is the only proper way to
understand the phonetic structure and relationships between the

The same goes for Hebrew and for the question at hand.  What
you essentially told John is "We know there is a different vowel
mark in the manuscript but we ignore this and pronounce it the
same way."  That doesn't answer John's question.  The real
answer is that the Tiberian vocalization is different because the
two words -- originally two different conjugations, not just a
single conjugation with an optional suffix -- were similar
in their vowel composition originally, with a /u/ in the
corresponding location, and they might have even had similar
stress placement.  But over time, as the stress and vowels
shifted, the /u/ developed differently in the two words.  A
possible reconstruction of the originals is: yaz-KU-ru vs.
yaz-ku-RUN-na, and if so, difference of stress might have been
the main reason that one developed to an /o/ the other to a

Yitzhak Sapir

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