[b-hebrew] The vowels of אֶחָד

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Sun Apr 10 14:03:52 EDT 2011

On Sun, 10 Apr 2011 19:23:29 +0300, Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> ...
> >> Of course, as Fred points out, the label could just as easily have been
> >> applied to the vowel, "segol" as a "virtual long vowel". Either way, it is
> >> more evidence of the care with which the MT developed.
> >...
>  Will katav
> > So if we start
> > for an underlying form that has a short (not daghesh) heth, we would
> > expect the seghol to either be further reduced to a variety of shwa, or
> > possibly be lengthened to sere.
> As you wish. But as you mentioned, the "lengthening" to sere is an option,
> like berax 'he blessed'. Well, since a lengthened sere didn't happen and
> dagesh is not marked, we have an anomaly that was not marked nor
> resolved. "Virtual" is for us.

Yes, but the question is whether one should regard the consonant as being
"virtually" long or the vowel as "virtually" long.  I go with the consonant.

> Comparison with yaHad and 'one' in Arabic
> might put our expecation on a 'virtual vowel' rather than a virtual long
> consonant.

True, the comparisons with the Hebrew yaHad and the Arabic forms do not give
any support for אֶחָד being derived from an earlier form that had a long
middle consonant.  But that's a diachronic and comparitive argument.
Regardless of how it came about, synchronically, the pointing of אחד implies
an underlying form with a long middle consonant.

> And isn't the whole thing just a little humorous?

You find this humorous?  I disagree, sir, with every fibre of my being!!!
(Well, perhaps a little...)

> >> They did not
> >> impose a grammar, but truly recorded the tradition as best they could.
> >> It also means that the language was passed on as a language and not
> >> as a grammar system, that came later. One of the delightful things
> >> about the MT is that the differences between BAramaic and BHebrew
> >> morphologies can be studied. Their independent development is
> >> recorded and makes linguistic sense as the trees are traced in reverse.
> >
> > Morphologically, perhaps, but phonologically perhaps not so much.  I can't
> > help but think that the vowel distinctions made in the vowel symbols
> > represent a primarily Aramaic system.  Not that the MS vowel pointing
> > misrepresent the Hebrew pronunciation the Massoretes were trying to
> > capture, but that they were hearing that pronunciation through Aramaic ears.
> The point here is that the Hebrew and Aramaic vowels within cognate
> words were different. e.g., guvrin vs. gvarim. And the different
> developments can be traced and compared and 'explained'. Like
> Aramaic Had 'one' vs. BH eHad 'one'.

No quarrel here.

Will Parsons

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