[b-hebrew] Yahu: > Yaw -> Yo:

Garth Grenache garthgrenache at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 29 23:12:07 EDT 2010

Dear all,

Reading Joshua Blau's "Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew",
 I'm reconsidering the history of the Theophoric Names in Y:ho:-.

I have been suggesting...

*Yahwa+natanu -> 
*Yahwanatanu -> Yaho:natan
as in...
*'achwat natanu -> 'acho:t natanu  "sister of Nathan"
 ['-ch-w is attested in several Semitic languages as the root for 'brother', including Biblical Hebrew in 'achwah "brotherhood"]

Joshua Blau suggests the prefix is from a "short form" Yahu:, and developed by elision of the 'h' ...
*Yahu: > Yaw -> Yo:

The book then suggests that the pronunciation Y:ho:  (rather than expected Y:hu:) comes from a blend with Yo:.

By blending, I think he means that someone has tried to correct the received pronunciation Yo:  by restoring the original h.

The book calls this process a pseudo-correction, and gives the example of "a well" 
bi'r > be:r >> pseudo correction >> b'e:r

I reckon the suggestion *Yahu: > Yaw -> Yo:   and Yo: plus YHW -> Y:ho:  is quite sensible.
We do know that the prefix was pronounced Yaw or Yo:, as it is written YW- often enough, even in Yochebed.

But I do question whether Yahu: was (at the time of the prefix) an accepted 'short form' of the Name.
I suggest that it may well be the full Name that is being prefixed, but that it is modified by loss of the final vowel.

Blau demonstrates that nouns in the construct state lost their final vowels before other nouns.

It could be thus that YahwV lost its final short vowel when prefixed to another word to make names.

This suggestion depends on the final vowel of YahwV being short,
 as in Yahwa (clipped from stative verb yahwayu),
 but not as in Yahweh (derived from yahwiyu by -iyu to long segol -e:).

>From Yahwnatan (> Yahu:natan) > Yawnatan > Yo:
Yo: + YHW spelling >> pseudo-correction >> Y:ho- 

For the suffix:
natan + yahwa + case marking -u 
> natanyahwu 
1. > ntanyahu:   (as in tuhw > to:hu:)
2. > ntanyah  (by elision of final w) > ntanya(h)  (by elision of final h)

Your thoughts?

Garth Grenache,


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