[b-hebrew] 22-Letter Alphabet Origination

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Sat Jul 4 11:46:53 EDT 2009

Personally, I'm not convinced by the whole matres lexionis thing. I  
think they were considerd to be consonants. Maybe in some dialects  
words were pronounced lazily and this can explain why they do not  
consistently appear.

James Christian

Quoting K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>:

> Joel:
> Last night, just as an exercise as I took a long hike for physical
> exercise, I tried speaking out loud some of the Biblical poetry I had
> memorized in Hebrew, but this time pronouncing each written letter as
> a consonant, including those commonly recognized as matres lexionis.
> Examples include that the masculine suffix -W instead of being
> pronounced as -o as we were taught, pronounce it as -owa, and the
> final -H as a -he.
> What I found was that except for a few, not all, internal waws and
> yods, that pronouncing each letter gave a beat to the poetry not found
> by treating those letters as matres lexionis. No, it didn’t come out
> perfectly, for example it appears that the “not” in Psalm 1:1 was
> drawn out for emphasis all three times it is used in that verse, but
> in general there is a beat that I had not noticed before.
> Personally I think that the Hebrews were the originators of the
> alphabet and the Phoenicians the adopters, as the Hebrews had a
> tradition of writing that went back to Egypt and the Exodus if not
> before, whereas the Phoenicians started using the alphabet only during
> the time of King David and later.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 8:08 AM, <joel at exc.com> wrote:
>> The Hebrews almost certainly adopted and adapted the Phoenician
>> writing system, adding the matres lectionis: vocalic heh, yud, and
>> vav.
>> I think the evidence for a wider phonetic inventory is less clear than
>> other bits of information.  We really don't know what Hebrew sounded
>> like 3,000 years ago.
>> -Joel
>> Joel M. Hoffman, PhD
>> http://www.lashon.net
>> http://www.AndGodSaid.com
>> Director of Education
>> Temple Israel of Northern Westchester
>> http://www.TINW-School.org
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