[b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 128, Issue 9

Jonathan Mohler jonathan.mohler at gmail.com
Fri Aug 9 18:58:25 EDT 2013

Hi Isaac,

see my comments below,

On Aug 9, 2013, at 11:00 AM, b-hebrew-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:

> 1.  Evidently the dagesh comes systematically after a patax, a xiriq or a qubuc: the dagesh "forte" directly, and the dagesh "lene" shifted (why there is no dagesh in "gutturals" I am not sure.) The question is, then, what causes what
The fact that gutturals don't take gemination in the Masoretic system suggests strongly that the gemination is in fact natural and not forced.  It is more proof that they were trying to represent what they heard.

> מה הסיבה ומה המסובב
> Is the dagesh part of the niqud, or does the dagesh engender the niqud. I refuse the possibility that the dagesh marks "gemination". There is no "doubling" now, and there is no reason for it to have ever existed before.

The doubling of the tav in shabbatto supports the idea that the pronominal suffix was originally -hu.  Thus the diachronic process would look like this: shabbat-hu --> shabbattu --> shabbatto

> For what? Moreover, since this purported "gemination" is systematic, it should not require any special marking, certainly not an invasive and intrusive internal dot.  

Invasive? That's highly subjective.  I see the pointing as a separate layer, for instruction.

> 2. Questions about niqud may be difficult to answer as we have no clear understanding of the logical underpinning of the whole enterprise. What is the purpose of having a qamatz in דָּג 'fish, fished', but a patax in דַּג 'fish of'. Is it phonetical or is it grammatical?

easy enough. The dag with pathaq is in a genitive construct with another word.  The whole is treated like one word.  Again, something the original speaker did unconsciously, but the masoretes picked up on the subtle difference.
> 3. The niqud is man-made, and in the some two hundred years from its inception to the earliest "masoretic" texts, opinionated (they exist even today) or careless scribes could have caused some slips in the original niqud. 

The writing system is man-made but it represents the phonetic and phonological state of BH at the time of transmission.  Even with the little phonology I have studied on my way to a PhD in Linguistics allows me to see a great deal of natural language phenomena in MT BH.
> 4. In any event, the Eretz Israel Torah reading practice makes no distinction whatsoever between the patax, the qamatz and the xatapiym, making them all A, with the sense of the text left immutable.   
You cannot impose modern Hebrew phonetics onto BH, anymore than you could impose American Southern English onto Shakespeare.  That's silly.  Israeli Hebrew phonetics is highly influenced by European phonetics, much more than semitic phonetics.  I grew up speaking French, and I pick up on the French influence on Isr. Heb. In fact, we could add to the above diachronic process: 
shabbat-hu --> shabbattu --> shabbatto --> shabato

> Isaac Fried, Boston University

Blessings, Jonathan Mohlers, Baptist Bible Graduate School

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