[b-hebrew] About Dagesh's

Yakov Hadash yakov.hadash at gmail.com
Mon Jun 16 16:41:25 EDT 2008

On Jun 16, 2008, at 3:11 PM, Vadim Cherny wrote:
> Is there any arguments against a simple rule that dagesh only exists  
> on cantillation and there only to avoid jamming (hazak - of post- 
> tonic vowels, kal - of clustered consonants)?
> I spoke with a number of opera singers and all of them confirmed a  
> need for such a stop.

Opera singing requires a very specific type of voice production, which  
has nothing to do with cantillation of ancient Semitic languages.

Pay a visit to the World Music section of your local CD store or  
public library and you'll hear singers (from, say, Africa, China,  
Eastern Europe, Australia, and Latin America) putting together strings  
of consonants and vowels that you hadn't thought possible.

Or, just listen to some American music – blues, country, rock, folk,  
rap – and you'll hear enough all the clustered consonants and vowels  
that you could ever need. Not just that, but you'll hear people going  
out of their way to complicate words. If you hear a blues singer say a  
word like "sad," he might turn it into something like "saaauhohhhahh-d."

But the most important thing to know is that singing is basically the  
same thing as speech. Every sound that comes out of your mouth has a  
tone. If you were to read this sentence out loud, I could transcribe  
it onto a musical staff, and it would be music. So if you can form a  
sound with your mouth, you can sing it. If you take a public speaking/ 
elocution class, 100% of what you learn in there can be applied to  
singing (and vice versa).

...But I'm still confused about your conversations with those opera  
singers. Has any of them sung in German? or French? Those languages  
both have tons of vowel/consonant clusters... even Italian has "gli"  
and stuff like that.

But I do think that Hebrew pronunciation probably evolved according to  
what was "easy" for people to say, obvious example -- hith-sader  
becoming his-tader. Or like English, in which "nice to see you"  
becoming "ni-sea." Think about it, when was the last time you heard  
anyone say any of the "o"s in that phrase?

(I'm a cantorial student at JTS, I studied Latin American and African  
ethnomusicology at the U of Pitt, and I sing Jewish, classical and  
blues music.)

Yakov Hadash
P.S. I confess I don't know what you mean by "post-tonic," and the  
Google results for "post-tonic vowels" weren't much help: "On this  
kind of change, there is deletion of the medial post-tonic vowel of  
the proparoxytones." Eep!

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