[b-hebrew] bgdkpt (was: About Dagesh's)

Yaakov Stein yaakov_s at rad.com
Sun Jun 22 01:21:32 EDT 2008

> The bgdkpt were weakened by spirantisation.  

I was asking how these particular combinations arose.
If the process is spirantization, that is changing a stop into a
why not t -> ts rather than t -> unvoiced th ?

> If you say the hard and then soft sounds, you will find that they are
the same, 
> except the hard sound is a complete stop, and in the soft sound the
air is not stopped.  
> You need to keep both F and V as bilabials to feel this.  

When we change a b into a v the lip motion completely changes,
in particular the lower lip rather than dropping, performs an outward
Similarly, when k changes to kh the base of the tongue changes position
from high to low and uvulation is used.
The g to j change is the most radical.
I am not sure in what sense you mean "the same", 
but there are nontrivial differences between the pairs.
On the other hand, pure changes in voicing keep the vocal tract
the same, and only change the vocal fold muscle state.

There are of course similarities between some of the paris. 
Some South American Spanish speakers pronounce a b somewhere between a b
and a v.
The p - f connection exists in other languages as well.

> Technically - from memory, voicing is not strengthening, but a form of

Lenition is any softening of consonants that occurs over time.
Sonorization (i.e. adding voicing) is the most common form of lenition.
In the case of bgdkpt, I am not sure that there was any mutation over
time at all.

If we look at mutation of consonants over time in Semitic languages,
we find completely different connections. For example, the connection
the Hebrew C, the Aramaic (, and the Arabic D are well documented.
The C - D connection IS lenition, but is between languages that are
relatively far apart.
Between the two very close languages, we have the hard-to explain
connection between
a dental stop and a guttural. Even more complex is the older Aramaic
correspondence to Q.

And what about the correspondence between the hebrew T (unvoiced th ?)
with the Aramaic $ ?

> The Celtic languages uses both spirantisation and voicing as a form of
> The usual explanation is that the spirantisation is imported from
> As usual, there is enough evidence to make it a possibility, not
enough to say it is a certainty.
Do you mean an early Aramaic ? I am trying to understand if you believe
(like I believe Isaac does) that this happened late.
Do you have a reference for this ?

If I remember correctly, Rabin in his 1991 book on Semitic languages has
the double forms
VERY early. I will look it up.

Yaakov (J) Stein

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