[b-hebrew] hatef vowels

J. Leake john.leake at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Feb 17 16:23:56 EST 2013

But this is surely not historically correct, Isaac, even if it might tie in with present Israeli practice and the 
some of the traditions that fed into it. When the poets in al-‘Andalūs 
worked out Hebrew verse metrics using Arabic ‘arūd, they defined a short syllable (what in Arabic would be 
<consonant>+<fatḥa>|<kasra>|<ḍamma>) in Hebrew as <consonant>+<vocalized shewa>|<pathaḥ 
ḥaṭūph>|<seghōl ḥaṭūph>|<qāmeṣ ḥaṭūph>. Surely that 
indicates a vowel and perhaps suggests one with different qualities (and is a genuine eleventh-century witness). 

As a side issue, it's 
interesting that there's no attempt to distinguish between 'long' and 
'short' vowels otherwise within the ‘arūḍ system. Is it a clue that like
 Syriac vowels the perception of length had vanished, and that the 
'long' and 'short' vowels were only distinguished in quality? Such 
Hebrew speakers were, after all, first-language Arabic speakers and were
 familiar with the concept of vowel length. Of course it might mean that
 the distinction between shewa/ḥaṭūph and other vowels was sufficient to
 satisfy ‘arūḍ and thus any other vowel length was irrelevant.

John Leake, Open University


'inna SâHiba Hayâtin hanî'atin lâ yudawwinuhâ: 'innamâ, yaHyâhâ. 
(He who lives a comfortable life doesn't write about it - he lives it.) 
Tawfiq al-Hakim, Yawmiyyât Nâ'ib fil-'Aryâf.


 From: Isaac Fried <if at math.bu.edu>
To: J. Leake <john.leake at yahoo.co.uk> 
Cc: B-Hebrew list <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org> 
Sent: Sunday, 17 February 2013, 21:20
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] hatef vowels

I do it this commonly practical way: A schwa in a radical letter I consider a lack of vowel, but not in an attachment. For instance, לבבך LBBKA (not LE-BABKA), נפשך NAP$KA, הדברים HA-DBARIYM, בניכם BNEIKEM, ואבדתם WA-ABADTEM. But, בשבתך BE-$IBTKA, ובלכתך U-BE-LEKTKA, to indicate that the letter B is here not radical. So also: ולמדתם WE-LIMADTEM.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Feb 17, 2013, at 2:36 PM, J. Leake wrote:

are you saying that shewa shouldn't be pronounced at all, then?
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