[b-hebrew] qamatz and patax

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Mon Aug 12 00:08:52 EDT 2013

The only point I was making, or trying to make, is call attention to  
the undeniable fact (fact!) that the present-day "minimalist" Hebrew  
reading custom, that makes no distinction between a qamatz, a patax  
and the xatapiym, as well as between the segol and the cere, and  
which ignores the dagesh "forte" and the dagesh "lene" in GDT, is  
still fit to fully preserve the meaning of the biblical text.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Aug 11, 2013, at 10:05 PM, Will Parsons wrote:

> On Sun, 11 Aug 2013 11:08:55 -0500, Jonathan Mohler  
> <jonathan.mohler at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.
> Modern Hebrew proves nothing of the kind.  The history of Hebrew *is*
> different from that of, say, Greek.
> In Greek, we have a prime example of the evolution of a language over
> a long period of time, a *very* long time indeed, stretching from the
> earliest written records in Linear B to the present time.  But
> throughout that long history, Greek has continued to be spoken as the
> mother language of a community.
> Hebrew is different - it ceased to be a mother tongue of a community
> in ancient times.  True, it continued to be *used*, and continued to
> evolve as a secondarily learned language.  In this, it can be compared
> to Latin or Sanskrit, but like Latin or Sanskrit, that evolution was
> conditioned by the host language(s).  Even more to the point, the
> pronunciation of Modern Hebrew does not represent a natural
> continuation of the Mishnaic/Mediaeval tradition, but a conscious
> choice to prefer, for example, BH forms over MH, and the conscious
> choice of preferring the Sephardic pronunciations of taw (without
> daghesh) and qamets over the Ashkenazic values.
> -- 
> William Parsons

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