[b-hebrew] dagesh, gemination, Hannah [was: dagesh in hebrew]

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Apr 27 19:47:11 EDT 2011

Considering the mess they usually do of Hebrew names it is possible  
that the LXX saw XANAH as HANAH, and that the double N in their  
Αννα of 1Sam.1:2 is a result of a struggle to adapt the Greek  
spelling to the sound of the Hebrew.
I notice there that for

ויהי איש אחד מן הרמתים צופים מהר אפרים  
ושמו אלקנה בן ירחם בן אליהוא בן תחו בן  
צוף אפרתי ולו שתי נשים שם אחת חנה ושם  
השנית פננה ויהי לפננה ילדים ולחנה אין  

they have

1.  ῎Ανϑρωπος ἦν ἐξ Αρμαϑαιμ Σιϕα ἐξ  
ὄρους Εϕραιμ, καὶ ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ελκανα  
υἱὸς Ιερεμεηλ υἱοῦ Ηλιου υἱοῦ  
Θοκε ἐν Νασιβ Εϕραιμ.
2.    καὶ τούτῳ δύο γυναῖκες· ὄνομα  
τῇ μιᾷ Αννα, καὶ ὄνομα τῇ δευτέρᾳ  
Φεννανα· καὶ ἦν τῇ Φεννανα παιδία,  
καὶ τῇ Αννα οὐκ ἦν παιδίον

with PNINAH (dagesh in the second N as expected after a xirik)  
curiously rendered Φεννανα

Spoken Hebrew did not "lose" anything. Spoken Hebrew has no "long"  
and "short" vowels, no schwa "NA" and no schwa "NAX", and no  
"gemination" (in spite of all the baloney "traditional grammar"  
taught in Hebrew schools) precisely because it is all unnecessary.  
Hebrew functions perfectly well without these theoretical fantasies.  
And if all this is redundant now, it stands to reason that it never  
existed in the past.

The dagesh, in my opinion, is but an ancient diacritical reading cue  
independent of the NIKUD. You may remove all dgeshim from any Hebrew  
text and you will not miss them.  In fact, that is what they did in  
the Oxford English-Hebrew dictionary.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Apr 27, 2011, at 5:10 PM, Will Parsons wrote:
> Languages that use a Semitic type alphabet either don't indicate  
> lengthened
> consonants at all, or indicate them by an optional auxiliarly  
> diacritical
> mark on the consonantal letter, as in the case of Arabic.  This is  
> perhaps
> expected, since a repeated consonant letter would naturally suggest  
> an extra
> syllable.
> As for modern Hebrew not having phonemically lengthened consonants,  
> note that
> the loss of phonemic consonantal length is quite common in languages.
> The history of the Hebrew name "Hannah" in various European  
> languages is
> illuminating:
> -  Hebrew חנה is transcribed as Αννα/Anna in the LXX.   
> Ancient Greek had
>    long (or geminated) consonants, so this spelling indicates they  
> heard
>    a "doubled" consonant in the Hebrew name.
> -  Latin transcribed Greek Αννα as Anna.  Latin also had  
> geminated consonants,
>    and this spelling indicates they heard the doubled consonant in  
> the Greek
>    form.
> -  The Latin "Anna" has come down to Italian essentially unchanged  
> in the
>    form "Anna".  Italian maintains phonemic consonantal length; the  
> spelling
>    indicates this for [an:a] (or equivalently, [anna]).
> -  Spanish does *not* maintain the consonantal length of Latin.   
> So, it's no
>    suprise that the name is pronounced [ana], spelled appropriately  
> as "Ana".
> -  Just as Spanish does not maintain the original Latin geminated  
> consonants,
>    so also has Modern Greek not maintained the original Ancient Greek
>    geminated consonants.  So, the Modern Greek pronunciation is  
> [ana], though
>    this is still spelled conservatively as Αννα/Anna.
> Aside from internal evidence within Hebrew, bolstered by  
> comparisons with
> cognate languages such as Arabic, the Greek transcriptions such as  
> "Anna"
> show pretty conclusively in my view (and most others' view), that  
> Hebrew had
> long ("geminated") consonants at the time of the LXX translations  
> (and no
> doubt before).  That this distinction was maintained up through  
> mediaeval
> times is the most natural explanation for the use of daghesh  
> (forte) in the
> Massoretic pointing.
> Modern Hebrew would seem to be in a similar situation to Modern Greek,
> where the phonemic distinction has been lost but the spelling (or  
> in the
> case of Hebrew, pointing) reflects an earlier state of things.
> -- 
> William Parsons

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