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

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Apr 28 11:24:54 EDT 2011


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?

> 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?

(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

> --
> William Parsons

Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list