(Modern) Hebrew grammar questions

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Feb 21 2020 7:32 AM

I have two questions related to the qaamats (קָמַץ), which is the "long A" vowel point (the little T-looking symbol below the letter on the right. Since this term ("qaamats") refers to a mid-to-late 1st millennium CE/AD phenomenon (i.e. the niqquudh symbol), it isn't supported by any Biblical evidence as a term, but what it refers to (a particular Hebrew phoneme) did exist in Biblical times. Because the term qaamats is not Biblical, I have to look to a modern source for how the word is spelled, and the source that comes through most often in that respect is Wikipedia. I am referencing info from the Wikipedia article "Kamatz" for those who want to follow along.

[[ For those who wonder why I'm spelling the word qaamats when the article term is spelled kamatz, take note that only the article title is spelled with a K...the entire body of the article uses the spelling "qamatz". That's because the article's title, which is a more traditional English spelling, is based on a faulty Romanization/Anglicization paradigm--in other words, it's common & traditional, but fundamentally wrong. The word qaamats (קָמַץ) is spelled in Hebrew with a qohpphק - Hebrew Q) rather than a kapphכ - Hebrew K). Unfortunately, the spelling in the body of the article is still faulty, because it uses a fairly common and traditional "tz" transliteration for the letter tsaadhiy even though there is absolutely no Z sound in the pronunciation of the letter. Finally, neither "kamatz" nor "qamatz" bothers to make any distinction between the "long A" (aa) of the first syllable and the "short A" (a) of the second syllable, whereas my spelling, using my Davidic Transliteration Method (DTM), does make this important but almost universally overlooked distinction. ]]

Getting closer to my questions, I first need to explain another botched foul-up in how Hebrew has developed. The Masoretes (for what reason, who knows?) decided to assign the exact same symbol to two entirely different phonemic phenomena, one an A-class vowel and one an O-class vowel. This decision pointlessly injects a significant amount of confusion into a system (the niqquudhotth) designed to eliminate confusion. The A-class vowel (which is the TRUE qaamats) is called qaamats gaadhohl (big qaamats) while the O-class vowel is called qaamats qaattaan (little qaamats). In addition to these two, there is a niqquudh called hh:attapph qaamaats (reduced qaamaats), which is also an O-class vowel, but shorter.

Most of my two questions are set up in the above paragraph. First, there are three different kinds of qaamats mentioned above, which are:

qaamats gaadhohl
qaamats qaattaan
hh:attapph qaamaats

My first question is: what is the grammatical reason for the adjective in these three terms switching from A) being in second position in the first two cases, to B) first position in the last?

My second question is: why does the word qaamats (קָמַץ) have a "long A" and a "short A" in the first two cases above, while the same word in hh:attapph qaamaats (חֲטַף קָמָץ) has two "long A's"? So you know, I'm taking these spellings from the Wikipedia article to which I provided a link above. Does the switch in position of the adjective cause the lengthening of the second vowel from short to long? If so, WHY? Or is the word misspelled with two long vowels?

Thanks for your input.

  

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 21 2020 11:19 AM

David Paul:
My first question is: what is the grammatical reason for the adjective in these three terms switching from A) being in second position in the first two cases, to B) first position in the last?

Pure speculation regarding first question: The hataf symbol is to the right of the kamatz. Perhaps the vowel symbols would be read from right to left?

As an aside, some siddurim use a different symbol for kamatz katan, to show readers to pronounce it as an "o" rather than an "a."

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 22 2020 12:39 AM

PetahChristian:
Pure speculation regarding first question: The hataf symbol is to the right of the kamatz. Perhaps the vowel symbols would be read from right to left?

Interesting thought, though such a syntactical reason seems like it would be supported by an established rule of some sort. 

PetahChristian:
As an aside, some siddurim use a different symbol for kamatz katan, to show readers to pronounce it as an "o" rather than an "a."

I'm always in favor of sloughing off enshrined error.

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