[b-hebrew] dagesh, gemination, Hannah
wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Thu Apr 28 18:05:55 EDT 2011
On Thu, 28 Apr 2011 08:24:54 -0700, K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 2:10 PM, Will Parsons <wbparsons at alum.mit.edu>wrote:
> > Distinguishing lengthened from non-lengthened consonants is quite common
> > in a wide variety of languages. How this is indicated (if at all) depends
> > on the type of script employed. Alphabetic scripts generally fall into
> > three categories:
> > 1) Semitic type scripts, in which ordinarily vowels are either not
> > indicated or indicated in certain circumstances by consonantal letters.
> > 2) Greek type scripts, in which vowel letters are full citizens
> > along with consonantal letters.
> > 3) Indic type scripts, in which vowels are indicated by symbols that
> > serve as adjuncts to the accompanying consonants.
> Was Hebrew originally a syllabery, with each letter standing for a syllable?
> The structure of Hebrew poetry seems to indicate that this was the case.
> Then when the Phoenicians and Arameans adopted the Hebrew script, did they
> change it to a consonantal alphabet?
I have seen claims that the early Canaanite scripts were essentially syllabic
in nature, but I will have to admit I don't see it that way. I don't know
of any reason to think that the alphabet was used any differently by the
Phoenicians than the Hebrews.
> > In languages that use either a Greek or Indic type alphabet, a lengthened
> > consonant is regularly indicated by the doubling the consonantal letter.
> > …
> > 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.
> Modern Hebrew pronunciation is irrelevant to a study of Biblidal Hebrew. I
> don’t want to get into all the reasons at this time. That’s where Isaac’s
> argument falls apart.
> > …
> > 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.
> “At the time of the LXX” sure, but that was five generations or more since
> Hebrew ceased to be spoken as a native tongue by Jews. Therefore, having
> grown up learning Aramaic pronunciation of the script, what is the
> probability after so many generations that they ever learned the Hebrew
> pronunciation of the script?
I've seen different opinions on how far Hebrew survived as a spoken language
after the return from the Exile, so I don't want to be too dogmatic about
this. It does seem unlikely, however, that a Hebrew pronunciation noticeably
distinct from the Aramaic pronunciation would have survived at this point.
> (Just because different languages share a script does not mean that they
> share the same pronunciation of that script. Example: look at the different
> ways Latin script is pronounced by different languages that utilize it. Even
> the same language over time sometimes changes how it pronounces its own
Yes, but we have to take the circumstances into consideration. We can see
how Spanish and its sister language French both use the Latin alphabet but
pronounce the letter J quite differently. In the case of post-exilic Hebrew
you have a situation that starts out with a high level of bilingualism of
Hebrew speakers (Hebrew and Aramaic) and develops over time to a situation
where the spoken language is Aramaic only, with Hebrew a purely learned
language. Both stages (but especially the latter) would be hostile to having
substantially different values for the letters.
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