[b-hebrew] Beit/Veit

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Tue Apr 21 20:04:40 EDT 2009

I am not sure if I understood your question correctly, so if not, just
ignore what I say :)

When Bet softened to a fricative, it would be natural to assume that it
changed from a bilabial stop to a bilabial fricative.  I presume that that
is what you mean by 'a soft B'.  It would be natural to assume that the
change to a labio-dental (I presume that is what you mean by 'V') would be a
result of outside (perhaps European) influence, but the change is recorded
in languages where no such influence is visible.  As it is very rare (I
believe unknown) for a bilabial fricative to contrast with a labio-dental
fricative in the same language, most people would not notice the difference.
 Which is a round-about way of saying we can't know for certain, but the
bilabial pronunciation is most likely to have been the original.  

Whether the differences between various Jewish pronunciations of Hebrew
represent 'native' developments or influence from surrounding languages is
not a question most of us are qualified to answer with any degree of
authority, nor do I know of any book (in English) that does so.  There is
still a lot of work that needs to be done on each of the traditions before
the comparison can be done with any hope of realistic conclusions.  My
personal opinion, as an amateur with no credentials, is that the
Babylonian/Mizrahi tradition is the closest to late Biblical Hebrew, but
suspect that the Ashkenazi tradition may be closer to the language spoken
during the first few centuries CE than many outside that tradition are
willing to believe.  I am not yet convinced that the question of 
authenticity' and 'correctness' is actually a legitimate or useful question
for Hebrew or any language that exists in differing forms over a long period
of time.

Kevin Riley
-------Original Message------- 
From: Yodan 
Date: 22/04/2009 4:13:25 AM 
I don't know if this question was discussed in this group, but I'm curious 
To know if anyone knows (and, hopefully, has a reference for it) if Veit 
(that's Beit without dagesh) was pronounced in "ancient times" (say at the 
Time of the Septuagint or later, during the first millennium CE, say at the 
Time of the Masoretes) as a V or as a soft B (like the Spanish B which is 
Also used by some Sephardi Jews). 
Thanks in advance. 
Rivka Sherman-Gold 

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