[b-hebrew] qamatz and patax

Jonathan Mohler jonathan.mohler at gmail.com
Sun Aug 11 12:08:55 EDT 2013


On Aug 10, 2013, at 8:22 PM, Isaac Fried wrote:

> The "modern" Hebrew, or the Eretz Israel, crisp, minimal, Torah reading system is based on a careful calibration of both the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi traditions, both of which certainly carry in them very old reading traditions. 
> The point is that in this reading system the qamatz, the patax and the xatapim are pronounced exactly the same way, and this, with no apparent injury to the context. 
> The common present-day reader of the HB (including yours sincerely) upon seeing the punctuated line below, would not know if it is truly
> 
> עֹלַת שַׁבַּת בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ עַל-עֹלַת הַתָּמִיד וְנִסְכָּהּ
> or
> עֹלַת שַׁבַּת בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ עַל-עֹלַת הַתַּמִיד וְנִסְכַּהּ
> or
> עֹלָת שָׁבָּת בְּשָׁבָּתוֹ עָל-עֹלָת הָתָמִיד וְנִסְכָּהּ
> 
> Spoken Hebrew decisively proves thereby that, notwithstanding what the punctuators of the HB "heard", (where? In the street, in the synagogue?) equating the reading of qamatz to the reading the patax leaves the meaning of the biblical text immutable. 

I have no problem with the above statement.  In fact, I only argue that MT pronunciation when studied through the lens of modern linguistics shows evidence of being a natural language, not a liturgical construct. If modern Hebrew proves anything, it's that Hebrew is no different than any other natural language of man, in that it is subject to natural linguistic phenomena that produce change over time in a language.
> 
> Isaac Fried, Boston University

Jonathan Mohler, Baptist Bible Graduate School
> 
> On Aug 10, 2013, at 10:15 AM, Jonathan Mohler wrote:
> 
>> 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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