[b-hebrew] (no subject)

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Mon Jul 5 17:37:22 EDT 2010

On Mon, 5 Jul 2010 21:08:52 +0300
Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello Garth,
> The Tiberian reading tradition is not just an issue of mater
> lectionis.  The reading tradition
> can read a totally different word, skip a word, add a word, skip a
> letter, add a letter, all
> kinds of ways in order to achieve the appropriate reading.  It is even
> less reasonable to
> assume that even had the Tiberians come to a consonantal text with no advance
> knowledge of the reading, and added vowels as they saw fit and
> understood it, which
> they did not, that they also did so for such a common and very
> significant name as
> Jerusalem.  It is best to analyze all reading developments, not least
> of which the name
> Jerusalem, as resulting from standard phonetic developments in pronunciation.
> In the case of the name Jerusalem, the last vowel was original a long
> i:.  We know
> this from Assyrian transcriptions and also from the name of the Canaanite god
> Shalim which underlies the city's name.  

I don't know about the Assyrian transcriptions, but can we know with
confidence that the pronuncation of the Canaanite god *was* Shalim?  My
understanding is that Ugaritic like other Semitic languages didn't regularly
represent the vowels, so how would this be known?

> The yodh could represent this long i:
> and nothing else.

Why nothing else?  Couldn't the yodh indicate a pronuncation (e.g.) such as

> However, the Greek eta used to transcribe the name indicates
> a lowering of the vowel at this position.  It is perhaps significant
> that the eta itself
> has its development from both a long a: and a long e:.

Although true, I don't see how development in Greek is significant for Hebrew.
The transcription with eta just indicates the translators of the LXX heard a
pronuncation similar to [jeruʃale:m].

> See here -
> http://books.google.com/books?id=yws4Zey-ZnYC&pg=PA73&dq="mid front vowel"
> In my opinion, the use of a yodh in mid-word position is indication
> that the vowel
> already had a diphthong pronunciation at this point, even if it wasn't
> the [ai] or
> [ayi] of Tiberian [yarushalaim].

Rather than the diphthong being a development of an earlier simple vowel, and
that Yerushayim vs Yerushalem is the same sort of doublet seen in bayith vs
beth?  In which case Yerushalayim (or rather *Yerushalaym) would represent an
earlier pronuncation, the diphthong being monophthongized as usual in the
pronuncation reflected by the usual Hebrew spelling and Greek transcription.
The diphthongal pronunciation would be an alternate preserved either as a
dialectal variant or perhaps in a different speech register, ultimately to
survive and prosper in the pronuncation reflected by the Massoretes.

William Parsons <wbparsons at alum.mit.edu>

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