[b-hebrew] Inseparable Prepositions and that shewa

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Apr 25 04:46:24 EDT 2010

On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 10:57 PM, Vadim Cherny wrote:

> Ben Asher and Saadia lived three or four centuries after the Masoretes
> introduced their notation. Even in our time, when knowledge in
> transmitted much more accurately than in their age, commenting on 17th-
> century works is hardly is straightforward matter. Unlike Saadia, we
> have access to the LXX and Secunda. And to call diqduq a clear
> instruction would be a bit of overstatement.

Hello Vadim,

I have no idea where you get your information.

Ben Asher and Saadia did not live "three or four centuries after the Masoretes
introduced their notation."  The Masoretes were not a single group of people
who in one day introduced a whole new notation and then left the scene.
The Masoretes were a group of people who in the time of a few centuries
developed various systems for representing the vowels as well as elaborate
works on pronunciation and long lists of various unique spellings.  In
the Tiberian
Masorah, the latest Masoretes were of the time of Aharon Ben Asher.  Before
him were several centuries of Masoretic development.  We don't know what the
Masorah looked like in those early centuries.  But he was not  simply a
commentator on a received work.  He was a Masorete with first-hand
authoritative information on the pronunciation.

The Diqduqe Teamim may not be completely clear to someone who is
new to the Tiberian vocalization but it is consistent and it is not overly
difficult.  What part of it did you find unclear when you say that "to call
diqduq a clear instruction would be a bit of overstatement?"

> The Masoretic tradition has dagesh kal even in Aramaic texts - do you
> seriously believe that every other Aramaic author was wrong in
> omitting them (as far as I know)?

Well, that depends.  Which Aramaic author or authors did you have
in mind that omitted them in vocalized texts?

Aramaic also has fricative pronunciation of the various letters.  In fact,
it is in Aramaic that the earliest examples of such pronunciations appear --
some examples may date as early as the 7th or 6th century BCE.
Vocalized Aramaic texts in the Hebrew tradition (such as Onqelos) also
have dagesh qal.  Even Syriac has qu$$aya and rukkakha to mark the

So I repeat, which Aramaic author or authors did you have in mind when
you wrote the above statement?  Or did you simply make a claim about
"every other Aramaic author" just like you make up vocalizations of
non-existent words in the Bible?

> You mean the vowel between root and suffix chem, like in the DSS's
> dvarac? Why, the development seems just the opposite: epenthetic vowel
> sneaked between root and suffix in vulgar speech, something that the
> Masoretes would have glossed over. And this brings us to another
> question, why no epenthetic vowel (thus dagesh) in ctavtem?

The DSS does not have "dvarac."  The DSS has final -kh and -th leading
scholars to believe the pronunciation was -ka.  However, the DSS is not
vocalized to the degree that allows us to determine vowels completely.
Similarly, neither the Secunda nor the LXX (to which the Masoretes did
have access), allow us to distinguish fricative from plosive pronunciations
since the Greek writing system did not distinguish fricative and aspirated

The pronunciations in the Secunda feature the drop of the last vowel in
the suffixed pronouns. They show a development similar to Aramaic where
the last vowel that was lost displaced the original case vowel - malkuka
"your king (nominative)" -> malkak.  This development was not present in
the linguistic development of the DSS and Tiberian Hebrew.  However,
Tiberian Hebrew still shows fricative forms because of the case vowel.
Probably, although the vowel at that point no longer specified the case
of the word, the vowel remained.  This vowel preserved the fricative
pronunciation.  At no place in either tradition do we see an epenthetic
vowel that "sneaked in".

> Instead, we can view dagesh kal as an attempt at resyllabification for
> clear pronunciation, which would explain the absence of dagesh in -
> chem and its presence in -tem, since the semantic intonation is
> different on nouns and verbs.

No, we can't.  The dagesh is not "an attempt at resyllabification."  The
dagesh is present in -tem because historically there was never any
vowel separating -tem and the root.  It is not present in -khem
because nouns had a case vowel and verbs had a vowel following most
nominative suffixes (-ti: in katavti:, -ta in katavta, etc.)

Vadim, the evidence against your ideas is simply overwhelming.

Yitzhak Sapir

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