Question concerning syllable preferences in Hebrew

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Posts 52
Matt Robertson | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Apr 23 2014 9:00 AM

So, I'm reading through Pratico/Van Pelt's Basics of Biblical Hebrew, and I am quite confused on something, and I hope someone more knowledgable in Hebrew can explain it to me.

anyway, so according to the book, Hebrew has syllable preferences.  Closed, unaccented syllables and open, accented syllables prefer short vowels.  Essentially the reverse is true for long vowels.

however, when I go to the Qal verb, I find that the paradigm does not fit this.  It seems that the word קָטַל does not follow that.  The short vowel is in a closed, accented syllable.  A word like דָּבָר shows that normally the closed, accented syllable has a long vowel, not a short vowel.

can someone enlighten me about this?  Thanks.

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 23 2014 9:32 AM

First of all this is only true in general, but the rule is that only short vowels come in syllables which are both closed and unaccented. In verbs there is an exception to the rule: every closed syllable with the vowel 'a' will get a short vowel (patah) and it matters not whether that syllable is closed or open. The participle is treated as a noun.

These are general rules that should serve as guidelines. There are many exceptions and you need to analyse the forms diachronically (i.e. reconstruct their historical predecessors) in order to explain them.

קטל is a verb  and you should now be able to explain it's vocalization. דבר a noun follows the general rule.

Posts 52
Matt Robertson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 23 2014 1:23 PM

Fantastic, thank you very much.

But just to be sure, you said this:  every closed syllable with the vowel 'a' will get a short vowel (patah) and it matters not whether that syllable is closed or open.

Did you mean to say "every accented syllable"?  Because you said "closed" twice.  Just trying to understand.

That has bugged my mind for a while now (that and trying to figure out the difference between Qametz and Qametz-Hatuf)

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 23 2014 1:39 PM

You are right. mea culpa!

I meant:

First of all this is only true in general, but the rule is that only short vowels come in syllables which are both closed and unaccented. In verbs there is an exception to the rule: every closed syllable with the vowel 'a' will get a short vowel (path) and it matters not whether that syllable is accented or unaccented. The participle is treated as a noun.

What is the problem with the Qamatzim? Is it a question of how they sound?

Posts 468
BKMitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 23 2014 4:56 PM

Matt Robertson:

...That has bugged my mind for a while now (that and trying to figure out the difference between Qametz and Qametz-Hatuf)

Well, then try the following:

(1) If you noticed that a METEG (a vertical line) is standing next to the Qames then pronounce the Qames as an 'a'

(2) If a hatep-qames immediately follows the a normal Qames then pronounce  (the Qames) as 'O'

(3) In a toneless closed syllable, Qames is almost pronounced as an 'O'

(4) The Magical Maqqef (hyphen look alike) can make an accent disappear (on the first attached word) and on a therefore creating a toneless closed syllable CvC... formation like, Kal (all) therefore transforming it into,  Kol.

חַפְּשׂוּ בַּתּוֹרָה הֵיטֵב וְאַל תִּסְתַּמְּכוּ עַל דְּבָרַי

Posts 52
Matt Robertson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 23 2014 5:37 PM

My issue is this.

Since a Qametz-Hatuf only occurs in closed unaccented syllables, it is usually (though likely not always) the first syllable. 

When this happens, usually there is a sheva under the following letter.  I get myself in a loop here.

In order to find out if what I'm dealing with is a Qametz or Qametz Hatuf, I need to see if the following Sheva is a Silent Sheva or a Vocal Sheva.

In order to find out if I'm dealing with a Silent Sheva or a Vocal Sheva, I need to know if the previous vowel is a long vowel (Qametz) or a short vowel (Qametz Hatuf)

That just loops in my head until I just assume its a Qametz and moves on.  Obviously the Metheg helps, but it isn't always there.

Any other tips?  I'm starting to think that maybe its just something you learn in vocab for each particular word.

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 23 2014 10:52 PM

I think what Brian said should solve your problem:

A) Since Qametz-Hatuf belongs to the group you call short vowels (this is a simplification of the matter but since  you are only beginning your studies there is no need to complicate the situation even further) it follows the rules above. Which means that it usually occurs only in closed unaccented syllables. (section 3 of Brian's explanation)

B) The metheg is very helpful (section 1)

C) I have a problem with the wording of section 4. There is no "kal"*  in BH only "kol" either with holam or with a Qametz-Hatuf.

Why don't you give us an example of a word where Brian's methodology doesn't work for you

Posts 52
Matt Robertson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 24 2014 3:22 PM

Here's an example.  In Joel 1:17, the first word is עָבְשׁ֣וּ.  The vowel under the Ayin is either a Qametz or a Qametz Hatuf.  But in order for it to be a Qametz Hatuf, the Sheva in the following syllable has to be a silent sheva, thereby closing the syllable and rendering it a closed unaccented syllable (presuming that it isn't a segholate noun). Unfortunately, the only way I know of to tell if its a silent or vocal Sheva in this instance is if the previous vowel is a long or short vowel.  I can't tell if its a short vowel or a long vowel unless I know whether or not its a Qametz Hatuf, and thus the loop.

any help on this word would be greatly appreciated.

Posts 468
BKMitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 24 2014 5:02 PM

You need the three more of the standard Sheva / Shewa rules:

1. If there are two sheva in succession, the 2nd one is vocal

2. If the Sheva stands under the first letter of a word it is vocal

3. If  the Sheva comes right after a long vowel it is vocal ( you knew this rule)

4. If the Sheva follows or is under a cosonant holding a stong Daghes then it is vocal

So, when then is the Sheva non-vocal?

Simply reverse the rules above ( this is joke but it is true)Stick out tongue

1. If there are two sheva in succession, the 1st one is silent

2. If the sheva stands under the last letter of a word it is silent (even if there is another sheva procceding it)

3. If the sheva follows a short vowel without tone/stress it is silent

4. If the Sheva follows a stressed syllabe it is silent

By the way עָֽבְשׁוּ in BDB, HAL, CHALOT (in Logos) comes with a Metheg. However, the Logos Exegetical Guide trasnliterates this word as: Ovshu. Another Bible Software program renders it thus: `aveshu . 

חַפְּשׂוּ בַּתּוֹרָה הֵיטֵב וְאַל תִּסְתַּמְּכוּ עַל דְּבָרַי

Posts 52
Matt Robertson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 24 2014 6:52 PM

Unfortunately none of those rules really help out in this instance, at least as far as I can see.  There are not two Sheva in a row, the Sheva here is not under the first letter, and there is no daghesh in that word at all to help me.  The third rule helps of course, but again that just brings me into the loop I described earlier.  I don't see anything that helps me much, unfortunately.

while the Metheg definitely helps, the BHS (at least the BHW) does not have the Methehg.  The word was actually copied and pasted straight from the version.

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Apr 24 2014 9:43 PM

Here is another rule:

A) If you examine a verb look at its 3rd maculine singular form (be careful to remain in the same aspect/tense): if the same syllable has a vowel instead of a shewa, the shewa in your form is vocal. 

B) If you examine a noun look at its singular in absolute state. if the same syllable has a vowel instead of a shewa, the shewa in your form is vocal.

I think this solves your problem. always remember that in the perfect of Qal all the shewas are vocal. (why?)

Brian: "However, the Logos Exegetical Guide trasnliterates this word as: Ovshu"

This is a mistake unless it was intended to immitate the round pronunciation of Qametz by the Tiberian school.

Posts 52
Matt Robertson | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 25 2014 5:49 AM

Alright.  That's what I was wondering.  I guess you really just have to memorize the lexical form in order to determine that, in those cases at least.

thanks a lot for your help, guys :)

Posts 468
BKMitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 25 2014 2:05 PM

Matt Robertson:
...while the Metheg definitely helps, the BHS (at least the BHW) does not have the Methehg...

But, not everyone agrees with BHS on issues of Gaya/Meteg placement. Scan other editions of the Hebrew Bible as well as the Aleppo Codex and you will soon see differences regarding  vowel pointing and accents.

Here are a few editions of the Tanakh that have the following pointing with the meteg: עָֽבְשׁוּ   (Joel 1:17)

  1. Korngold/ Koren Tanakh 2006 printing (one of the most popular Tanakh used in Israel and outside of Isreal)
  2. Keter Yerusalem Tanakh 2004 (I often read this one it's so cool!)
  3. Mordechai Breuer Tanakh printed by mossad harav kook 1989 (very popular and becoming more so)
  4. Davka's Tanakh
  5. Ginsberg's Tanakh 1894/1998 printing
  6. Letteris Tanakh
  7. Snaith's Tanakh

Now, here are some editions of the Tanakh that do not have the meteg in the word in question (but have the 'Munach' instead) עָבְשׁ֣וּ Joel 1:17

  1. Aron Dotan Tanakh (BHL) 2001
  2. Art Scroll Tanakh 2007
  3. BHS 1990
  4. Jewish Publication Soceity Tanakh

David Knoll:

.... always remember that in the perfect of Qal all the shewas are vocal. (why?)

Wow, David this is a great rule to remember! I hadn't noticed that.Yes And, a really good question, too!

David Knoll:
Brian: "However, the Logos Exegetical Guide trasnliterates this word as: Ovshu"

This is a mistake unless it was intended to immitate the round pronunciation of Qametz by the Tiberian school.

I also think the Logos Exagetical Guide is mistaken on this word (or maybe it is a typo), but it would love to hear from them why they did that.

חַפְּשׂוּ בַּתּוֹרָה הֵיטֵב וְאַל תִּסְתַּמְּכוּ עַל דְּבָרַי

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 25 2014 10:36 PM

BKMitchell:
Wow, David this is a great rule to remember! I hadn't noticed that.Yes And, a really good question, too!

Think about the first rule I provided. The answer is there.

The rules you provided Brian serve to solve the difficult cases when there is no way to spot the vowel reduction using my rules. Note that reliance on the Metheg is not an option in these cases because we can hardly expect the Masoretes to indicate every vocal shewa. The example Matt put forth is so common and widespread (Qal perfect 3 plural like שמרו) that  he cannot rely on the generosity of the Masoretes or the editors of his Hebrew Bible. He needs a rule that will assist him with the verb paradigms and common noun patterns. He is right that he needs to memorize the paradigms. Just as he would in any other language.   Assuming that he is to learn the Qal conjugation soon he will be able to use my rules to solve these questions without memorizing every vocabulary item or looking up the word in the dictionary. 

I'll send you an e-mail next week with how we decided to print this word in our soon to be published definitive edition Cool

Posts 2465
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 25 2014 10:47 PM

David Knoll:

... our soon to be published definitive edition Cool

Curiouser and curiouser! Surprise

Posts 912
David Knoll | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 25 2014 11:11 PM

Lee:
Curiouser and curiouser! Surprise

 

HUBP

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Apr 25 2014 11:58 PM

BKMitchell:

I also think the Logos Exagetical Guide is mistaken on this word (or maybe it is a typo), but it would love to hear from them why they did that.

The transliterations in the Exegetical Guide are generated on the fly by code that just looks at the text, without reference to things like morphological tags. The transliterations are a little better in LHI, because the code was run ahead of time on whole graphemes instead of in real time on lexical segments, and (if memory serves me, which it may not - I didn't build the last version of LHI) the code used for LHI supports a longish list of 'exceptions to the rules' not found in the c# code run by Logos in real time. But even the better LHI transliterations are not hand-crafted. The code doesn't know by looking at a string that something is a qal perfect, for example.

There are some words where it really comes down to which manuscript you're following. There are a couple proper nouns, for instance, where L doesn't have a metheg but some other manuscripts do, and that's the only way to determine the initial vowel (and the translations are divided on how to read these names). It's not just qamets and qamets-hatuph: I can think of examples where the way to read a shewa comes down to whether a hireq is long or short. Again, in some of those cases, knowing your paradigm chart would be of assistance, but writing code to transliterate without the benefit of morph codes makes solving these things programmatically difficult. The program needs to know more about the word than just what the characters are.

I do have some ideas on how to build a better mouse trap (and they all involve ways of moving towards something that may start with auto-generated transliterations, but then get improved and maintained by hand in a sort of meta-transliteration code that can be converted into any given format). But it's just in the idea stage right now.

Posts 433
Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 26 2014 12:21 AM

FWIW - there are some editions of the Tanakh meant for students that use a variety of font conventions to explicitly mark vocal vs. silent shewas, qamets vs. qamets hatuph, quiescent aleph, mark the accent syllables when the text has a pre-positive or post-positive accent that is not actually on the accented syllable, be more consistent with methegs (though oddly, the ones I've seen don't use different shapes of metheg to make it clear exactly what the metheg is doing in the word - very occasionally it isn't clear (to me) without putting a bit of thought into it), etc. But the idea is that these editions help the student simply read the text and absorb/internalize the sounds/patterns naturally.

Perhaps some people might view tools like this as an unnecessary crutch, in the absence of a native speaker who can tell you things like "I know there's no metheg there, but we say X anyway", I think these can be useful.

I believe the one I have at the office is called תנך סימנים. I think it's this one: http://www.nehora.com/products/Tanach-Simanim%2C-Large-%28Hebrew-Only%29.html.

Posts 468
BKMitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 26 2014 4:47 PM

Vincent Setterholm:
The transliterations in the Exegetical Guide are generated on the fly by code that just looks at the text, without reference to things like morphological tags.

Thank you for responding and clarifying this issue.

Vincent Setterholm:

It's not just qamets and qamets-hatuph: I can think of examples where the way to read a shewa comes down to whether a hireq is long or short...

That makes sense. I wonder if some of these are cases in which there were two shewas standing next to each other, and the first was reduced and became a hireq (and short vowel) the second shewa either became or continued to be vocal.  Also, there is also the issue of how a shewa under a letter with a Dagesh Forte can be vocal as well. i guess making code for something like this must be very difficult.

Vincent Setterholm:
FWIW - there are some editions of the Tanakh meant for students that use a variety of font conventions to explicitly mark vocal vs. silent shewas...I believe the one I have at the office is called תנך סימנים.

I am familiar with the Tikkun Kor'im (Simanim) but I haven't had a look at the full Tanakh(Hebrew Bible) version you mentioned. Thanks for mentioning the Tanakh edition.      

David Knoll:
I'll send you an e-mail next week with how we decided to print this word in our soon to be published definitive edition

Thank you I will look forward to hearing how you guys dealt with this word.

חַפְּשׂוּ בַּתּוֹרָה הֵיטֵב וְאַל תִּסְתַּמְּכוּ עַל דְּבָרַי

Posts 1
Brian Neradt | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Nov 23 2016 7:45 PM

I too struggled with this "loop" issue. I found the following section from Jouon/Muraoka helpful:

Jouon, and Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, 2006, Part 1, Chapter 6, Section l, "Practical observations on the two kinds of qamets", page 42.

I don't quote it here because I want to respect copyright. But, summarizing, it says that ultimately the surest way to know whether a qamets is a qamets or qamets hatuf is to look up the base word. If the qamets is formed from inflecting an o-class vowel, then it is probably a qamets hatuf.

For example: In Psalm 2:6, we see this inflected noun: ‎  קָדְשִֽׁי (Ps. 2:6 BHS).  That qamets is in the situation you discussed: it is followed by a sheva, so how can we tell whether the syllable is open or closed?  Well you cannot from simply looking at it.  However, the base noun, without the pronomial suffix, is קֹדֶשׁ, having that holem over the qof.  So the qamets is a qamets hatuf.

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