[b-hebrew] Patach furtivum

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Jul 8 02:57:43 EDT 2010

Hello Garth,

> 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.

I don't know if I would say that the weakening is velarization.  I
primarily have seen the word velarization to describe the
development of the emphatics in Arabic, Aramaic and
Hebrew.  The emphatics in these languages are different
from other Semitic ejectives, and the question is what is the
exact process that differentiates them.  Velarization is one
such suggestion.

As for the pronunciation, the Ayin and Heth probably required
opening the mouth, not closing it.  How would closing the mouth
affect the preceding (and following) vowels?

Regarding furtive patah in general, you might want to examine
specifically section 7 of the article by Garr that I pointed out in
the Jerusalem discussion -

> 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).

The Pashta accent is not indicative of the penultimate stress as
opposed to other final long vowels.  From Yeivin's "Introduction to
the Tiberian Masorah", English, section 239, p. 194-195:

"Pashta is the only accent sign in standard Tiberian MSS which is
regularly repeated on a penultimate stress syllable.  In standard
printed editions, the pashta sign is repeated on every word in
which the stressed vowel is not the last (ie every word with
penultimate stress, including word with patah 'furtive').  Most early
MSS -- for instance L and C -- follow the same system, but some
MSS show a different convention.

"In A, S, and some other MSS, the sign is only repeated where at
least one letter stands between the two letters to be marked with
the signs as השמיע, לפניך.  Where this is not the case, the pashta
sign is not repeated, as מזבח, הטיבת, ירושלם, וְשַׁתִּהָ.  This system of
marking pashta is mentioned in some treaties such as Qimhi's עט

"In B and S1, and some other MSS, pashta is not repeated not only
where the two letters on which it would be marked are not
separated by a third but also in some other situations as well as
לחדש, משפחת.  This usage is not consistent ...

"In L2 pashta is never repeated ...

"In some cases, where the position of the word stress might be in
doubt, the pashta sign is repeated on a stressed final syllable
as שובי (C, S1, Jer 31:19), שבו (S1, 2C 25:12), וכובע (S1, Ez 27:10)."

"In many MSS pointed in the expanded Tiberian system, pashta
is repeated on every word in which the last letter does not
represent the first consonant of the stress syllable, as ברביעי,
ככף, גדול."

Because orthographical considerations (number of letters) are
sometimes involved, this is not totally indicative.  It may be that
L and C show the merger of the split syllables into one *e:e > e:
but near a guttural *e:a > e:a, but A and others maintain them,
and so view the Pashta on purely orthographical considerations.
This would indicate this was a very late development.

> 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.

The long vowels in Tiberian Hebrew were probably all split (this relates
to the usage of other cantillation signs).  This is directly visible though
in the furtive patah because then the split becomes pronounced in
the vocalization system.  I don't know if a 'glide' is the correct way
to view this.  Whether or not the speaker recognizes this as a
completely separate syllable, it may still be a syllable from a linguistic
point of view.  For example, the short open syllables in Tiberian
pronunciation were probably not identified as separate syllables by
the Tiberian Masoretes, because they were dependent on the following

> Likewise in modern Yemenite Hebrew, Yehoshuwwa`.

I'm not sure about this part.

> 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?

I don't view the extra vowel as a "glide" and I don't know if it was not
a distinct syllable.  In any case, the influence of the guttural is seen
in other words.  In verbs, in the word יעמוד the guttural causes the
initial hiriq to become a patah.  This type of process is seen also
in Samaritan Hebrew wtɔmmɔd ותעמד rather than wtignɔb ותגנב,
as well as nouns such as זרע ze:'ra:.

> 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?

I don't know if it is marked.  There are examples of such systems
published by Revell and others.  I would suggest starting with the above
book by Yeivin.

> Likewise in (Lebanese) Arabic, which I don't think ever writes a patach
> furtivum, ... Tiberian accentuation of Hebrew does though.

This could be all of a scribal convention.  It could also indicate the Tiberian
vocalization has a more advanced stage of this phenomenon.

> 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?

The phenomenon varies with the type of guttural and it may
also vary with time.  The point is that already in the LXX we
see the beginnings of the furtive patah.

>> 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?

Not completely.  אהחע merge in different ways as א or ע, with influence on
surrounding vowels.

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list