[b-hebrew] dagesh in hebrew

Nir cohen - Prof. Mat. nir at ccet.ufrn.br
Sat Apr 23 10:41:52 EDT 2011

dear isaac,

as a non-specialist i made a small search on the 
internet and found some material
on the phenomenon called gemination which includes all the
dgeshim in all the languages. there is fascinating stuff on
the development of gemination in akkadian and later in other
semitic languages.

just a small example: in tigrinya, SEBERE is (as expected) to break.
the repetitive form of SEBERE is SEBABERE, repeating the B twice.
the closest in hebrew would be the piel: $YBR with (yes) dagesh.
so, dagesh is indeed related to doubling and undoubling of consonants,
that is, unless you reject all extra-hebrew ties.

this is connected with the D-stem gemination in semitic which is
documented already in akkadian.

conjecture: in proto-semitic repetition was expressed by repeating the word:
$BR-$BR. by assimilation, this was shortened to SB-BR, then a clever person
invented the dagesh.

it seems that the dagesh in hebrew was originally used for BGD-KFT only,
where it is really absoluely necessary. then later diverted for other uses

gemination in canaanite would make it even more natural to accept its 
existence in biblical hebrew. unfortunately i did not find easy access to 
written material on canaanite, except for some video tapes on the verb 
system. but i am sure canaanite also had geminaion and D-stem. 

Rainey wrote some books on canaanite, and so did NJC Kouwenberg 
and E Lipinski. these last two books are available (in mutilated 
but usable form) on the internet.

maybe a specialist on the b-hebrew can explain the issue further.

nir cohen

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