[b-hebrew] Beit/Veit

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Apr 23 01:36:28 EDT 2009


Hi Rivka,

Let's see if I can add anything useful after Karl and Kevin's answers.

Actually, your question should be about all six BGDKPT letters, not just
Bet. Most scholars consider the "soft" (un-dageshed/frictive) sounds to be
"secondary", that is, not an original, built-in feature of Biblical Hebrew.
This is unlike Shin and Sin or Ayin and Ghayin, in which the same
letter-sign was used for what were originally two different sounds. At some
point in time, when the BGDKPT letters followed a vowel, people began
pronouncing them "softer". It didn't have to happen at the same time for all
six, and perhaps not for all speakers of Hebrew. What we know is that by the
time of the Tiberian Masoretes, this feature had become "regular" enough, at
least in their dialect, for them to formalize it as a rule of grammar by
"inventing" the Dagesh Kal.

Since we don't have recordings of people speaking Hebrew in antiquity, there
is no way that we can really know how a particular letter was pronounced at
any specific time or in any specific place. However, we do have
translations, and especially transliterations of Hebrew words (mostly proper
nouns) into other languages, and of course the most useful of these for the
Second Temple Period is Greek. Now this is not an exact science either,
because we have the same questions about exactly how Greek was pronounced at
any given time or place. But in general, we can assume that Greek used Kappa
to transcribe Kaph and Chi transcribe Khaph, Pi for Pe and Phi for Phe, Tau 
for Tav and Theta for Thav (soft Tav - although there is a question of just 
how Greek pronounced these letters at the time). From these examples we can 
see, the differences between "hard" and "soft" did not follow what later 
became the Mesoretic rules. For example, Pe and Kaph at the begining of a 
word were often pronounced "softly", or at least that's what the traslators 
heard.
As to the specifc issue of Bet/Vet, as Karl mentioned, the Greek of the time 
did not have a "v" sound, so when they wrote Beta, we have no way of knowing 
whether they heard B or V.

Hope that helps, and any and all corrections are welcome.

Yigal Levin


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yodan" <yodan at yodanco.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 9:12 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Beit/Veit


>
> Shalom!
>
>
>
> 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
>
>
>
> *********************************
>
> YODAN Publishing
>
> P.O. Box 60655
>
> Palo Alto, CA 94306-0655
>
> 650-494-6994
>
> Rivka at Yodanco.com
>
>
>
> **********************************
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>


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