[b-hebrew] Patach furtivum

Garth Grenache garthgrenache at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 7 07:41:17 EDT 2010

Thanks Yitzhak,

I was delighted to receive your intelligent response.

Yitzhak wrote,

> I find this kind of approach to be fundamentally flawed.  The 
Tiberians were not

> the only ones who recorded vowels, nor did 
they "invent" the various linguistic

> phenomena that they 
documented.  In fact, in my view, the "fallback" is not that

> the
 Tiberians invented something but that they simply recorded a phenomenon

 in their reading tradition.

I understand what you are saying, and agree with you: 

The Tiberian points document (rather than create) the linguistic phenomena of the Tiberian reading tradition.  
[I suggest that through these points almost all forms of Modern Hebrew have subsequently been influenced through having to interpret these points once adopted: but that's another story.]

I also agree with you that a weakened (velarised) pronunciation of `ayin and cheth causes closure of the mouth, which affects the quality of the preceding vowel.

But in the Tiberian tradition, modification of the preceding vowel is not all that a patach furtivum indicates.  The accents indicate that the patach furtivum is a second vowel AFTER the stressed vowel.  In particular the Pashta accent is doubled on words such as Yehoshua`, indicating that the stress on the u is penultimate (mil`el).

So then, this 'glide' between closed long vowel and `ayin, is realised in the Tiberian pronunciation as a distinct vowel with a syllable of its own.  It is no wonder that they therefore marked it with a distinct vowel point.

Likewise in modern Yemenite Hebrew, Yehoshuwwa`.

So let me redefine the topic:

What evidence is there outside of the Tiberian tradition, that a glide between a closed long vowel and a final gutteral consonant was reckoned to be a distinct vowel with its own distinct syllable, rather than a part of the pronunciation gutteral consonant closing the long syllable?

Is patach furtivum marked in the other ancient Hebrew pointing systems around the time of the Tiberian system?  e.g. Babylonian?  Palestinian?  I don't know where to learn more about these systems: do you, Yitzhak?

Yitzhak wrote,
> There is evidence for a furtive patah already in the Greek
> transliterations.  Names that end with a guttural have an
> epsilon and sometimes alpha as in Siloa [Shiloah] -
> Siloam, and Raphia ????.  The alpha or epsilon may just be
> the way that the Greeks heard the guttural but even so it
> indicates that the guttural itself already
> influenced the surrounding vowel to appear more open.

Good.  I agree the Greeks associated the guttural consonants with open vowels.
Likewise in (Lebanese) Arabic, which I don't think ever writes a patach furtivum, `ayn greatly alters the sound of the surrounding vowels.  I struggled when hearing my Lebanese friends say `ayn, because they sounded like they were saying an 'a' vowel simultaneously with the consonant.  Likewise they say 'spirit' (ru:H) with an opening glide between the long u: and a true pharyngeal fricative H.  But I don't think they would classify this glide as a distinct Arabic vowel with its own syllable.  Tiberian accentuation of Hebrew does though.

Abishua is Abisoue LXX

And yet Yehoshua`/Yeshua` is in Greek IESOU- (LXX).  
Nephtoach is LXX Nephtho.
Zanoach is LXX Zano.
Taphuach is LXX Taphoug
Where is the 'a'/'e' here?

So the glide is not always marked in the LXX, though there would be temptation to mark something for that rough Hebrew ending!

If it were not merely a glide or gutteral closure, but a preceding vowel forming a syllable of its own in Hebrew pronunciation, would not the Greeks regularly mark the vowel of this syllable?

Yitzhak wrote,
> Tal and Ben Hayyim in their grammar of Samaritan Hebrew describe a similar
> phenomenon in Samaritan Hebrew.  However, it is not exactly the same, and
> in any case, in Samaritan Hebrew the process of guttural weakening is much
> more advanced than in Tiberian Hebrew.

Yes: in Samaritan Hebrew the gutterals are replaced with vowels, aren't they?

So we have evidence of gutterals influencing the quality of closed vowels.

What evidence do we have that any other tradition around the time of the Tiberian tradition recognised such influence as an additional vowel in an additional syllable, rather than a part of the gutteral closing the syllable?

Garth Grenache,
New, Used, Demo, Dealer or Private? Find it at CarPoint.com.au

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