yodan at yodanco.com
Thu Apr 23 01:56:00 EDT 2009
Yigal, thank you and thanks to Karl and Kevin.
A question to you and to others:
Does the fact that Arabic doesn't have a "v" consonant support the
possibility that Hebrew too didn't have a "v" consonant (we know that VAV
was pronounced like WAW, and this is still the case in some Hebrew
"dialects")? If so, perhaps what later became VEIT was pronounced like BEIT?
(e.g. Ribka later became Rivka?).
A somewhat related question: Does anyone know if DALED is believed to have
been pronounced as an emphatic consonant, like in Arabic, perhaps in
addition to another pronunciation (like "d" or like "th" in "that", as do
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Rivka at Yodanco.com
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Yigal Levin
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 10:36 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Beit/Veit
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
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.
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