[b-hebrew] About Dagesh's

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Jun 17 01:27:37 EDT 2008

On Mon, Jun 16, 2008 at 3:14 AM, Isaac Fried wrote:
> As for the masora we need to separate fact from fiction, or practice
> from theory. It is a fact that in Exodus 12:31 the word C)U is with
> an apparently authentic dagesh in the zade, why is the dagesh there
> is free for all theoretical explanation.
> I am suspicious of arguments depending on syllable formation. Some
> grammar books have this "rule" that after a qametz, considered by
> them for some obscure reason to be a "TNU(AH GDOLAH", the schwa is "NA
> (", or an opener of a syllable. By this logic the word $ABRU, for
> instance, is to be read $A-BRU [$AAA-BRU?], which could only be
> suggested by someone who has actually never tried to speak Hebrew.

The fact is that Exodus 12:31 is vocalized as a dagesh and schwa on
the Sade, and and a shuruq on the Aleph.  It is also a fact that this is
described by the Masoretes themselves as being vocalized: [ccu)u:],
the dagesh being joined to the previous word (a "conjunctive dagesh").

The whole issue of "tnu(ah gdolah" for the qamats is a medieval
suggestion that was meant to reconcile the Tiberian system with the
5-vowel system that was used by Spaniards.  We do not today use
the 5-vowel vocalization system in our Bibles, but in fact have very
accurate Bibles that use and transmit to us the 7-vowel Tiberian
system.  The 5-vowel vocalization system is also more poorly
understood and was not as widely documented.  This is how the
"tnu(ah gdolah" idea developed and it is wrong.  The Tiberian
qamats can be both short and long.  The idea that the schwa
after a long vowel is a schwa mobile is not consistent with actual
Masoretic tradition.  The Masoretes clearly defined the schwa as
a silent schwa.

The only thing that is left to speculation is the origin of the
gemination in the Sade of [ccu?u:].  That is open to speculation,
and yet, it is best done having a good understand of both the
Tiberian system, and linguistic theory in order to be able to
join in the "free for all theoretical speculation."

Yitzhak Sapir

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