Edition 1.3

26 January 2012

 

 

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History of the Ancient and Modern Hebrew Language

By David Steinberg

David.Steinberg@houseofdavid.ca

Home page http://www.houseofdavid.ca/

http://www.adath-shalom.ca/history_of_hebrewtoc.htm

 

Excursus 1

Phonemic Structure of Hebrew[1]

(part 2)

d. Vowel Phonemes

N.b. a convenient way to learn to hear and articulate vowel length is to listen carefully to: (a) recordings of a couple of spoken Arabic dialects; or, (b) recordings of Akkadian poetry.

d.1 Diachronic Development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowel System

 


 

Box 15 - Distinctive Features of Hebrew Vowels

"A distinctive feature ... is a phonetic property that distinguishes groups of sounds in a given language. And by applying these features to Hebrew, it should be possible to divide the Hebrew vowels into phonetic groups, or classes of sounds.

In ... (Hebrew) three features distinguish the vowels one from another. Two of these features reflect the position of the tongue. On a vertical axis, the degree to which the tongue is raised above or lowered below its neutral position characterizes vowel height.... When the tongue is raised, the vowel is high, when lowered it is low; the intermediate zone produces mid vowels.... On a horizontal axis, the presence of absence of lingual backward movement is also distinctive.... In retracted position, the vowel is back; without retraction, the phone is nonback....

The lips are responsible for the third distinctive vocalic feature. A sound produced by articulating the upper and lower lips (lip rounding) is labial. Without articulation, the sound is non-labial.... Thus, the articulation of lips, tongue height, and tongue retraction/non-retraction converge to differentiate Hebrew vowels one from another....

Quoted from Garr 19912.0.

See -

- IPA Chart With Audio

- Height and Backness of the vowel Systems of Proto-Hebrew, Secunda Hebrew, Tiberian, Babylonian, and Palestinian Hebrew and Samaritan Hebrew

 


Table 15

Proto-Semitic to Tiberian Hebrew

Vowel Phonemes[2] with Probable and Possible Allophones

PS[3]

*/PS/

(c. 3000 BCE)

*PH

(c. 1200 BCE)

EBHP

*/EBHP/+ *[EBHP]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

PTH

*/PTH/+ *[PTH]

(c. 400 CE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

Short Vowel

Long Vowel

Short Vowel

Long Vowel

Short Vowel

Long Vowel

Ultra-short Vowel

Short Vowel

Long Vowel

/TH/+

*Ultra-short Vowel

*[TH]

Short Vowel

*[TH]

Long Vowel

/i/

[i] [ɪ] []

/iː/

/i/

[i] [ɪ] [ẹ]

ῑ, /iː/

/i/

[i] [ɪ] [/ɛ]

, /iː/
[
iː]

/ә/[4]

[ĭ], [ă], [ĕ], [ŏ], [ŭ]

/i/

[i] [ɪ]

ῑ, /iː/

/i/

req

/ә/

[ɐ̆] [ɛ̆] [ĕ] [ĭ] [ɔ̆] [ŏ] [ŭ]

 

[i]

[iː]

ē /eː/[5]

ē
eː
/eː/

[ː][ɛː]

/e/

[ẹ] [ɛ]

ē,
/eː/

[ː][ɛː]

/ẹ/

ēr

[ɛ]

[ẹː]

/a/

[ɛ], [a] [ɐ] [ɔ]?

[ɔ̝]?

ā /aː/ [aː],
[ɐː]

/a/

[ɛ], [a] [ɐ] [ɔ]? [ɔ̝]?

/a/

[ɛ] [a] [ɐ] [ɔ]?

[ɔ̝]?

/ɛ/[6]

Sĕgōl

ː]

ā /aː/?

[aː]
[ɐː]

, ā?, /aː/

[aː],
[ɐː]

/a/

[a] [ɐ] [ɔ]? [ɔ̝]?

/aː/

[aː]
[ɐː]

/a/

Pataḥ

[ɐ]

ː]

, ɔ /ɔ/[7]

Qāmeṣ

[ɔ]

[ɔː]

/u/

[]? [o] [ʊ] [u]

ū /u:/

/u/

[o̞]? [o] [ʊ] [u]

ō /oː/

/u/

[] [o] [ʊ] [u]

ō, ,
/oː/[8] [oː]

/o/

[o̞] [o]

ō, ô
/oː/

/o/

ōlem

[oː]

ū /u:/

ū, /u:/

/u/

[ʊ] [u]

ū, /u:/

/u/

Qibbuṣ-req

[u]

[u:]

wa and atef Vowels

Note - probable allophones are unmarked; possible allophones are marked with "?"


 

Box 16 - Semitic Vowels and their Actualization

"Common Semitic or Proto-Semitic has three short vowels ( 10.5): low/open back velar a, high/close front palatal i, and high/close back velar u with strongly rounded lips. It also possesses the three corresponding long vowels ā, ī, ū. Although additional vocalic phonemes have arisen in various Semitic languages, there are no sufficient grounds to suppose that other vowels belong to the original core of the Semitic phonemic system.... However, the realization of the Semitic vowels a, i, u in actual speech can produce other vocalic sounds, mainly in the case of short vowels (cf. 10.11). There is a widespread tendency in Semitic to pronounce high and low vowels, especially when they are unstressed, as mid vowels [e], [ә], [o].... Thus short [i] and [u] tend to become [ә], as in Ethiopic (21.30), and the same can happen with [a].... Besides, [i] can easily become [e] by lowering the tongue, [u] becomes then [o]. The lack of appropriate vocalic signs, especially for [ә] and [o], does often not allow determining the presence of these vowels in an accurate way, and "e" will then stand for [ә] and "u" for [o] (21.3). On the other side, a stressed short vowel tends to become long, and its articulation may at the same time be lowered (e.g. i > ī > ē) or raised (e.g. a > ā > ō)[9]. Some of these new vowels may acquire a phonemic status in a determined language."

Quoted from Lipinski 1997 21.1.

 

"The short vowels (in Colloquial Arabic) are found in an unsystermatizable multiplicity of qualities; many if not all of them were probably already present in Classical Arabic and only hidden by the orthography, which is limited to three sort vowels a i u. This limitation is legitimate to the extent that, as in fact seems also to be the case in the modern dialects, all that matters for the meaning of the word is whether the vowel belongs to the a-, i- or u-group, while the gradation within the groups depends on accent, syllable structure, neighboring consonants. and also the vowels of adjacent syllables. [Note - Bergstrsser here applies the phonemic principle in the analysis of the minute phonetic detail recorded in his sources.] The a-group stretches from e to o, thus bordering the i- and u- groups on the two sides, and has borderline cases in common, which must especially kept in mind in the e direction. Even the opposition i : u, which for us is established by the contrary natures of the two vowels and in fact appears to be thoroughly realized in Classical Arabic, holds for the dialects only with qualifications: in part they have a full-fledged scale of transitions from i to u, within which the exact placement of the vowel is influenced by accent, syllable structure, and phonetic environment; but in part they make the DISTINCTION BETWEEN i and u dependant on such features. Colloquial Arabic thus reflects the proto-Semitic situation in this regard rather accurately, - Beyond fluctuations within the same quality group, switches from one group to another are common. The direction is usually from the a-group to the i/u-group "

Quoted from Bergstrsser 1928/83 p. 188-189.

 

"In numerous Lebanese dialects both vowel quality and quantity are affected by pause, i, u, and a becoming ē, ō and ā (or ); thus, e.g., in Bimizzin, contextual bynzil, "he goes down", byktub "he writes", byftaḥ "he opens" appear in pause as bynzēl, byktōb, byftāḥ."

Quoted from Morag 1989 (p. 102)

 

 

In reconstructing the early Semitic and subsequent Hebrew vowel systems it is essential to keep in mind:

1. the distinction at every stage between the probable phonemic structure of the vowel system and the bundle of phones likely to have made up each phoneme. It is probable that the full natural scale of the principal vowel qualities[10] - i, e, a, o, u - would have been heard in the speech of Semitic speakers throughout the centuries though the specific qualities of these vowels is mostly unrecoverable and would, in any case, have varied with time, dialect etc.

2. that Proto-Semitic is thought to have had a similar vowel and stress system to that of Classical Arabic. The written vowel tradition of Classical Arabic recognizes 3 phonemic qualities of vowel each of which has 2 phonemic lengths- i/ī, a/ā, u/ū[11], However, early Greek transcriptions[12] of Arabic names show that Arabic of the period possessed the following vowels i, e, ə, a, o, u.

3. that ancient Semitic languages, and most modern Arabic dialects, phonemically distinguished between short and long vowels. The long vowels were usually quite distinct but the short vowels easily interchanged. To give an example from Egyptian Arabic[13], a language that parallels Ancient Hebrew in numerous ways, there are three short vowels i, a, u and 5 long vowels ī, ē, ā, ō, ū [14]. However, the actualization of /a/ includes [a] and [ɔ]; that of /i/ includes [i] and [e]; that of /u/ includes [u] and [o]. The allophone pronounced depends on such factors as: the nature of the surrounding consonants; whether the syllable is long or short, closed or open; stress; dialect; speed of speaking and even the sex of the speaker[15]. In Palestinian Arabic /u/ is pronounced [o] and /i/ [e] before the (non-geminated) final consonant of words[16]. Thus /ʾuktub/ is pronounced [ʔuktob] and /kātib/ is pronounced [kāteb]. It is interesting to note the similarity of result, regarding the final vowel, to the qal imperfect יקטל (TH יִקְטֹל; EBHP /yiqˈtul/ [yɪqˈtʊl] or [yɪqˈtl]), and SC כבד (TH כָּבֵד; EBHP /kaˈbid/ [kɐˈbɪd] or [kɐˈbɛd]) and the qal active participle קטל (TH קֹטֵל; EBHP (constr.) [qoːˈtɪl] or [qoːˈtɛl]).

Unlike the living Arabic dialects, we can never recapture the rich reality of the sound of EBHP. A possible indication of the missing dimensions is given by Rice and Sa'id in their book Eastern Arabic (p. 5) -

In addition to word stress, Arabic also has another system of prominence that works independently of stress. We call this vowel prominence. Like stress, it too is automatic. A long vowel has more sonority (amplitude, loudness) than a short vowel ....

A short vowel immediately followed by a double consonant is more tense than a short vowel elsewhere.... This tenseness is preserved even when the double consonant is not followed immediately by a vowel...

As a result of these three features of word stress, sonority, and tenseness, the acoustic impression of Arabic is quite different from that of English.

 

Table 16 - Long Vowels in EBHP by Origin

 

Irreducible Long Vowels

 

Long

Vowel

Primitive Long Vowel

Vowel Lengthened Through Contraction

Vowel Lengthened Through Stress

Homogeneous Diphthong Contraction

Heterogeneous Diphthong Contraction

[iː]

wy >ːy >yy > [ː] e.g

e.g. */ˈkiwyu/ > */ˈky/ > */ˈkiyy/ > */ˈkiy/ > /ˈk/
(TH כִּי) 'burning'

 

y > [ː] e.g

e.g. */ˈyybau/ > */ˈybau/ > /yˈba/
(TH יִיבַשׁ) 'it will be dry'.

 

Word-final iy > e.g

*/ˈkalyu/ > */ˈkaly/ (/EBHP?/) > */ˈkaliy/ (/EBHP?/) > */ˈkal/ (/EBHP?/) (TH כְּלִי *[kәˈliː] (contextual) or כֶּלִי *[ˈːli] (pausal) [17] 'tool'

*/ˈyihyay/ > */ˈyihy/ (/EBHP?/) > */ˈyihiy/ (/EBHP?/) > */ˈyih/ (/EBHP?/) > (TH /yˈhi/) "may he be"

 

y > e.g. /wayˈyyśam/ >
/wayˈy
śim/
(
TH וַיִּשֶֺם ) 'he put'.

 

 

[eː]

TH מֵת - see next column.

Word-final yu > [ː] e.g.

*/amōˈnayu/ (PH) (/EBHP/+) */ˈn/ > (TH) /ˈn/

 

Word-final yu > [ː] e.g.

*/bāˈniyu/ */bōˈn/ ('building' qal a.p. ms.)

 

מת (TH מֵת) 'dead' (adj.) - the origin of the long eː is unclear i.e. it might have been */ˈmt/ or */ˈmēt/. In either case we should see מֵת the 3ms. SC as having a stress lengthened, and hence reducible, vowel i.e. */ˈmeːt/.

In transcriptions of EBHP I will use */ˈmt/

 

*qiʾl >* qệl > qʾệl

Unstressed diphthong contracts ay > [eː] e.g.

*/bayt/ > /bt/

(TH בֵּית) 'house of-'

*/kaˈbidu/ > */kaˈbeːd/

(TH כָּבֵד) 'heavy' (adj.)

[aː]

TH קָם - see next column.

Word-final ya > [ː] e.g.

/baˈnaya/ (PH) > /baˈnay/ > /baˈn/ (/EBHP/+)

 

קם (TH קָם) 'standing' (qal ms. ap.) as an example of the large class of II-w and II-y roots.

The origin of the long aː is unclear i.e. it might have been */ˈqm/ or */ˈqām/. In either case we should see קָם the 3ms. SC as having a stress lengthened, and hence reducible, vowel i.e. */ˈqaːm/.

In transcriptions of EBHP I will use */ˈqm/ for the participle and
*/ˈqaːm/ for the 3ms. SC.

 

*/ˈyadu/ > */ˈyaːd/

(TH יָד) 'hand'

[oː]

ō (ō < ā) e.g.

/ˈqāṭilu/ (PNWS) /qōˈeːl/ (/EBHP/+)

בוש (TH בּוֹש) 'ashamed' (adj.) - the origin of the long oː is unclear. */ˈb/

 

ʾ not immediately followed by a vowel shifts to [ː] e.g

/ˈraʾu/ > /ˈru/ /ˈr/ (/EBHP/+) 'head'.

Unstressed diphthong contracts aw > [oː] e.g.

*/mawt/ > /mt/

(TH מוֹת) 'death of-'

*/gaˈdulu/ > */gaˈdoːl/

(TH גָּדוֹל) 'big' (adj.)

 

[uː]

ū

w >
e.g. /ˈh
wabtima/ /habˈtim/ e.g

(TH הושַבְתֶּם) 'you were made to dwell'

 

w > e.g.

/ˈywkalu/ > /ˈykalu/ /yˈkal/

(TH יָכוֹל ) 'he will be able'.

 

 

 

4. that while there two phonological vowel lengths there often (always?) are at least 4 phonetic vowel lengths i.e.

o        short vowels are longer when stressed particularly in closed syllables. In addition word final short vowels, as often in Arabic[18], were probably shortened long vowels in quality rather than lengthened short vowels. Thus for /i/, the short vowel within the word was likely pronounced as the laxer vowel [ɪ] while the short vowel at end of word as the tenser vowel [i]. Cf. to the parallel long vowel pronounced [iː].

o        long vowels e.g. /iː/ are longer when stressed [iːˑ].

In the history of Hebrew prior to the middle ages it seems to me that the appearance of new long phonemic vowels may have stimulated a reanalysis of the short vowels to parallel the long vowels[19].


 

Table 17 - Shifts in Proto-Semitic Vowels as Hebrew Developed

PS

*/PS/

(c. 3000 BCE)

*PH

(c. 1200 BCE)

EBHP

*/EBHP/[20] *[EBHP] [21]
(c. 850-550 BCE)

PTH

*/PTH/+

(c. 400 CE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

IH

/IH/ [IH]

(present)

/a/

/a/ - /aˈlaːmu/

peace

/a/ - /aˈlōm/
ɐ
ˈloːm]

/aː/ - /aːˈlōm/

// - שָׁלוֹם
/
ˈlom/ [ʃɔːˈloːm]

/a/ - /aˈlom/ [ʃɐˈlom]

/a/ - /qaˈtalat/ she killed

// - /qaˈtl/
[qɐˈtɐ̣ˑ]

// - /qaˈtalaː/ >

/qaːˈtalaː/ >

/qaːˈlaː/

// - קָטְלָה

/qәˈl/ [qɔːәˈlɔː]

/a/ - /qaˈla/ [kɐtˈlɐ]

/a/ - /ˈdabaru/

/a/ - /daˈbaːr/

[dɐˈbaːɾ]

// - /daːˈbaːr/

// - דָּבָר

/dˈbr/ [dɔːˈvɔːɾ]

/a/ - /daˈbar/
[d
ɐˈvɐʁ̞]

/a/ - /ˈqatalat/

she killed

/a/ - /qaˈtl/
[qɐˈtɐ̣ˑ]

/ә/ - /qaˈtal/ >

/qaːˈtal/ > /qaːˈlaː/

/ә/ - קָטְלָה

/qәˈl/ [qɔːәˈlɔː]

// - /qaˈla/ [kɐtˈlɐ]

/a/ - /ˈkattaba/

piel SC 3ms.

/i/ - /kitˈtib/

[kɪtˈtɪb]

/i/ - /kitˈtẹb/

/i/ - כִּתֵּב

/kitˈtẹb/ [kitˈtẹːv]

/i/ - /kiˈteb/ [kɪˈtɛv]

/a/ - /ˈkattaba/

piel perf. 3ms.

/i/ - /kitˈtib/

[kɪtˈtɪb]

/e/ - כִּתֵּב

/kitˈteb/

// - כִּתֵּב

/kitˈtẹb/ [kitˈtẹːv]

/e/ - /kiˈteb/ [kɪˈtɛv]

 

particle attached to the direct object

/a/ -/ˌʾat/

[ˌʔɐt]? [ˌʔɛt]?

/e/ - /ˌʾat/ > /ˌʾet/

// - אֵת /ˌʾt/ [ˌʔːθ]

/ʾet/ [ɛt] or [t]

/a/ - /ˌʾat/

[ˌʔɐt]? [ˌʔɛt]?

/e/ - /ʾat/ > /ʾet/

/ɛ/ - אֶת־ /ʾɛt/ [ˌʔɛθ]

/aː/

// -

/aˈlaːmu/ peace

// -

/aˈloːm/ [ʃɐˈloːm]

// -

/aːˈlōm/

// שָׁלוֹם

/ˈlom/ [ʃɔːˈlm]

a - /aˈlom/

ɐˈlom]

// - /ˈābu/ good

/ō/ - /ˈōb/
[ˈtob]

/ō/ - /ˈōb/

/o/ - /ˈob/ טוֹב

[ˈv]

/o/ - /ˈob/ [ˈtov]

/i/

/i/ - /ṣiˈrāru/

bag

/i/ - /ṣiˈrōr/

[ṣɪˈɾoːɾ]

/ә/? //?- /ṣәˈrōr/

/ә/ - צְרוֹר
/ṣәˈror/ [ṣәˈɾoːɾ]

/∅/ - /ṣ∅ˈror/ [tsˈʁ̞oʁ̞]

/i/ - /ˈsiprahu/

his book

/i/ - /sipˈrahu/ >

/sipˈr/ [sɪpˈɾoː]

/i/ - /sipˈr/

/i/ - סִפרוֹ
/sipˈro/ [sifˈɾoː]

 

/i/ - /sipˈro/ [sifˈʁ̞o]

/i/ - /i/
/qitˈtil/ adjectives of infirmities

/i/ - /i/ - /ʾilˈleːm/

[ʔɪlˈlẹːm] "deaf"

/i/ - /e/ - /ʾilˈleːm/

i - - אִלֵּם

/ʾilˈlẹm/ [ʔilˈlẹːm]

/i/ - /e/ - /ʾiˈlem/
[i
ˈlɛm]

/ciwˈweːr/
[cɪw
ˈwẹːɾ] "blind"

/ciwˈweːr/

עִוֵּר

/ciwˈwẹr/ [ciwˈwẹːɾ]

/ciˈver/ [iˈʁ̞]

/i/ - /ˈʾāsiru/ qal a.p.

one who ties

/i/ - ˈseːr/

[oːˈsẹːɾ]

/e/ - ˈseːr/

// - אֹסֵר

/oˈsẹr/ [oːˈsẹːɾ]

/e/ - /oˈser/ [oˈsɛʁ̞]

/i/ - /ˈʾilu/ god

/i/ - /ˈʾeːl/ [ˈʔːl]

/e/ - /ˈʾeːl/

// - אֵל /ˈʾl/ [ˈʔːl]

/e/ - /ˈʾel/ [ˈɛl]

/ī/

// - /aˈru/

prisoner

// - /aˈsiːr/
[ɐˈsiːɾ]

// - /aːˈsiːr/

/i/ - אָסִיר

/ˈsir/ [ɔːˈsiːɾ]

/i/ - /aˈsir/ [ɐˈsiʁ̞]

/ī/ - /ˈmīnu/

kind, variety

/ī/ - /ˈmīn/

[ˈmiːn]

/ī/ - /ˈmīn/

/i/ - מִין

/ˈmin/ [ˈmiːn]

/i/ - /ˈmin/ [ˈmin]

/u/

/u/ -
/ˈdubbara/

it was said

/u/ - /dubˈbar/

[dʊbˈbɐɾ]

/u/ - /dubˈbar/

/u/ - דֻּבַּר

/dubˈbar/ [dubˈbɐɾ]

/u/ - /duˈbar/
[
d
ʊˈbɐʁ̞]

/u/ - /ˈruābu/ > /ruˈōbu/

"plaza inside city gate"

/u/ - /rˈōb/
[
ɾʊ̣ˈħoːb]

/ә/? //? - /ˈōb/

ә - רְחוֹב

/ˈḥob/

[ɾәˈħoːv]

/ә/ - /ˈḥob/

[ʁ̞әˈxov]

/u/ -
/ˈgudlahu/

his greatness

/u/ - /gudˈlahu/ > /gudˈl/ [gdˈl]

/o/ - /gudˈl/

/ɔ/ - גָּדלוֹ

/dˈlo/ [gɔˈloː]

/o/- /godˈlo/

[godˈlo]

/u/ - /ˈyaqum/

let him stand

/u/ - /ˈyaqum/

[ˈyɐqʊm]? [ˈyɐqm]?

/u/ - /yaːˈqum/

/o/- יָקֹם

/yˈqom/

*[yɔːˈqoːm]

/o/ - /yaˈqom/

[yɐˈkom]

 

/u/ -

/wayˈyaqum/

he stood

/u/ - /wayˈyaqum/

[wɐyˈqʊm]?

[wɐyˈyɐqm]?

/u/ - /wayˈyaːqum/

/ɔ/ -

/wayˈyqǫm/

*[wayˈyɔːqɔm]

/waˈyaqom/
[
v
ɐˈyɐkom] or
/
waˈyaqam/
[
v
ɐyɐˈkɐm]

/ū/

/ū/ -

/yaˈqūmu/

he will stand

// - /yaˈqūm/

[yɐˈquːm]

 

// - /yaːˈqūm/

/u/ - יָקוּם

/yˈqum/

*[yɔːˈquːm]

/u/ - /yaˈqum/

[yɐˈkum]

// - /ˈūbu/

goodness

// - /ˈūb/

[ˈuːb]

// - /ˈūb/

/u/ - טוּב

/ˈub/ [ˈuːv]

/u/ - /ˈub/ [ˈtuv]

/aw/[22]

/aw/ -
/ˈmawtu/ death

/aw/ - /ˈmawt/

[ˈmɐwt]

/awe/ -- /ˈmwet/

/wɛ/ - מָוֶת

/ˈmwɛt/ [ˈmɔːwɛθ]

/awe/ - /ˈmawet/
[
ˈmɐvɛt]

/aw/ - /mawt/

death of

/aw/ - /ˌmawt/

[ˌmɐwt]/[ˌmwt]

// - /ˌmt/

/o/ - מוֹת

/ˌmot/ [ˌmoːθ]

/o/ - /ˌmot/ [mot]

/ay/

/ay/ - /ˈbaytu/

"house"

/ay/ - /ˈbayt/

[ˈbɐyt]

/ayi/ - /ˈbayit/

/ayi/ - בַּיִת

/ˈbayit/ [ˈːyiθ]

/ayi/ - /ˈbayit/ [ˈbɐyɪt]

/ay/ - /bayt/

"house of"

/ay/ - /ˌbayt/

[ˌbɐyt]/[ ˌbɛyt]

/ệ/ - /ˌbt/

/ẹ/ - בֵּית

/ˌbẹt/ [ˌbẹːθ]

/e/ - /ˌbet/ [bɛt]

 

 


Table 18 - Vowel Length Minimal Pairs in EBHP and their Transformation in Later Hebrew

Consonantal Phonemes

EBHP

*/EBHP/+ [23] *[EBHP]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

PTH

*/PTH/+

(c. 400 CE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

IH
[IH] = [BHIH]

(Present)

 

/a/ - /ā/

גלה
/gaˈl/ [gɐˈlɐː]
"he went into exile". Qal 3ms. SC of GLH )

/gaːˈlaː/

גָּלָה
/gˈl/

[gɔːˈlɔː]

[gɐˈlɐ]

גלה
/ˈl/ [gaːˈlɐː]
"she rejoices"
Qal participle fs. SC of
GYL

/gaːˈlaː/

גָּלָה

/gˈl/

[gɔːˈlɔː]

/u/ - /ū/

תמת
/
ˈtamut/

[ˈmʊt]? [ˈtɐmt]?
"may she die" Jussive)

/taːˈmot/

תָּמׁת
/t
ˈmot/

[tɔːˈmoːθ]
Nu. 23:10

[tɐˈmot]

תמות
/ta
ˈmūt/ [tɐˈmuːt]
"she will die" Indicative

/taːˈmuːt/

תָּמוּת
/t
ˈmut/ [tɔːˈmuːθ]
Ex. 7:18

[tɐˈmut]

/i/ - /ῑ/

מן
/min/ [mɪn-]
"from"

/min/

מִן־
/min/ [min-]

[min]

מין
/ˌmn/ [ˌmiːn]
"kind of, type of"

/ˌmiːn/

מִין
/ˌmin/ [ˌmiːn]

[ˌmin]

בן
/ˈbeːn/ [ˈbẹːn]
"son"

absolute stressed form

/ˈbẹːn/

בֵּן

/ˈbẹn/ [ˈbẹːn]

[ˈbɛn]

בן
/bin/

[bɪn-]? [bɛn-]?[1]
"son of-"

/bɛn/

constr. unstressed form)

בֶּן־
/bɛn/ [bɛn-]

[bɛn-]

בין
/bn/ [ˈbiːn] "understanding" Qal inf. constr.

/ˈbīn/

בִּין

/ˈbin/ [ˈbiːn]

[ˈbin]

/ῑ/ - /ay/

סוסי
/sū
ˈsiː/ [suːˈsiː]
"my horse"

/sūˈsiː/

סוּסִי

/suˈsi/ [suːˈsiː]

 

[suˈsi]

סוסי
/sū
ˈsay/ [suːˈsɐy]
"my horses"

/sūˈsay/

סוּסַי

/suˈsay/

[suːˈsɐy]

[suˈsɐy]

/aː/ - /aw/

שר
/
ˈār/ [ˈʃaːɾ]
'he sang'

ֺ/ˈaːr/

ֺשָר /ˈr/
[
ˈʃɔːɾ]

[ˈʃɐʁ̞]

 

שור

/ˈawr/ [ˈʃɔ̝]
'ox'

/ˈr/

שׁוֹר
/ˈor/ [ˈʃoːɾ]

[ˈʃoʁ̞]

 


Table 19

Vowel Phonemes Minimal Pairs */EBHP/

(c. 700-600 BCE)

a

i

iː

u

uː

oː

eː

ay/y

aw/w

a

/gāˈl/: /gaˈl/[24]

/ˌʾil/: /ʾal/[25]

/qaˈar/: /qaˈr/[26]

/qaˈtal/: /quˈtal/[27]

/ˌcūl/:
/cal/[28]

/ˌʾab/:
/
ˌʾōb/[29]

 

 

 

 

/ˌbin/:

/ˌbān/[30]

/sūˈs/: /sūˈsῑ/[31]

/ˌtār/:
/
ˌtur/[32]

/qaˈtal/: /qaˈtalū/[33]

/sūˈs/: /ˈsō/[34]

 

/sūˈs/: /sūˈsay/[35]

/sūˈs/: /sūˈsw/[36]

 

 

i

/ˌbin/:

/ˌbῑn/[37]

 

 

/*kaˈbōd/: /kaˈbid/[38]

 

 

 

 

 

 

iː

 

/ˈmῑ/: /ˈmū/[39]

/sūˈsῑ/: /sūˈ/[40]

/yirˈ/: /yirˈū/[41]

/sūˈsiː/: /sūˈsay/[42]

/sūˈsῑ/: /sūˈsāw/[43]

 

 

 

 

u

*/muˈt/: /ˈt/[44]

/yaˈkōl/: /yaˈkul/[45]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uː

/ˈqōm/: /ˈqūm/[46]

/raˈ/: /raˈū/[47]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oː

/raˈō/: /raˈ/[48]

/sūˈs/: /sūˈsay/[49]

/sūˈs/: /sūˈsw/[50]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eː

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ay/y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

aw/w

 

 

Box 17 - Distinctive Features of TH Vowels

The .. (TH) vowel system is primarily quality-sensitive, arranged in a four-tier structure of vowel height. The upper three tiers contain pairs of vowels, internally differentiated by backness and labiality. On the lowest tier lies the nonlabial, back [ɑ].

i u

e o

ɛ ɔ

ɑ

Each vowel sign represents a unique vowel quality.

This system also accommodates vowel length. Yet since length is not intrinsic to any one vowel, this feature must be uncovered by grammatical investigation. Whereas vowel quality is overt in ... (TH), vowel quantity is covert (GKB 10d ).

Quoted from Garr 199110.

See -

- IPA Chart With Audio

- Height and Backness of the vowel Systems of Proto-Hebrew, Secunda Hebrew, Tiberian, Babylonian, and Palestinian Hebrew and Samaritan Hebrew

 

 

Table 20

Vowel System Tiberian Hebrew (TH) [51]

1. Full Vowels

(See Were there Long and short vowels in TH and, if so, were they Phonemic?)

Tiberian Vowel Sign

Traditional Name

/TH/+

(vowel chart)

*[TH][52]

 

Short Vowel

Stressed and Open[53] Unstressed Syllables

בָּ

Qāmeṣ gādl [54]

(IPA [ɔ])

 

ː (IPA ː])

כָּל־

Qāmeṣ ḥāp/ qāmeṣ qāān

ǫ (IPA [ɔ])

ǫ (IPA [ɔ])

 

בַּ

Pataḥ

a (IPA [ɐ])

a (IPA [ɐ])

/ā/ (IPA [ɐ:])

בֶּ

Sĕgōl

Ɛ (IPA [ɛ])

ɛ (IPA [ɛ])

 

בֶּי, בֶּה, בֶּא

Sĕgōl māl

 

ɛː/ɛ̂ (IPA [ɛː])

בֵּ

ēr

ẹ (IPA [e])

 

ẹː/ẹ̄/ (IPA [eː])

בֵּי, בֵּה, בֵּא

ēr māl

 

בִּ

req

i (IPA [i])

i (IPA [i])

 

בִּי

req māl

 

 

/ / (IPA [iː]).

בֹּ

ōlem

o (IPA [o])

 

/ō/ (IPA [oː])

בּוֹ

ōlem māl

 

בֻּ

Qibbu

u (IPA [u])

u (IPA [u])

 

בּוּ

req

 

/ū/ (IPA [uː])

 

2. wa and Ḥaep or aaf Vowels

(See What are the wa and atef Vowels and How were they Pronounced?)

Tiberian Vowel Sign

Traditional Name

/TH/+

*[TH]

 

בְּ

Mobile or Vocal wa

ә

ә

 

בְּ

Silent or Quiescent wa

בֲּ

Ḥaep-pataḥ

ă

ă

בֱּ

Ḥaep-sĕgōl

ɛ̆

ɛ̆

בֳּ

Ḥaep-qāmeṣ

ɔ̌

ɔ̌

 

 

Table 21 - Tiberian Vowels of the Same Quality often Have Diverse Origins

*/PH/

(c. 1200 BCE)

EBHP

*/EBHP/+ *[EBHP]

(c. 850-550 BCE)

PTH

*/PTH/+

(c. 400 CE)

TH

/TH/+ *[TH]

(c. 850 CE)

BHIH
[BHIH] = [IH]

(present)

/baytu/ > /bayt/

/ˌbayt/ 'house of'

[ˌbayt]/[ˌbɛyt]

[EBHisr] [ˌbệt]

/ˌbt/

בֵּית

/ˌbẹt/ [ˌbẹːt]

 

[ˌbɛt]

/ˈʾilu/

/ˈʾeːl/ [ˈʔːl]

god

/ˈʾeːl/

אֵל

/ˈʾl/ [ˈʔːl]

[ˈɛl]

/qitˈtilu/

/qitˈteːl/

(adjectives of infirmities) e.g.

/ʾilˈlimu/

/ʾilˈleːm/

[ʔɪlˈlẹːm]

"deaf"

/ʾilˈleːm/

אִלֵּם

/ʾilˈlẹm/ [ʔilˈlẹːm]

[iˈlɛm]

/ciwˈwiru/

/ciwˈweːr/

[cɪwˈwẹːɾ]

"blind"

/ciwˈweːr/

עִוֵּר

/ciwˈwẹr/
[ciw
ˈwẹːɾ]

[iˈʁ̞]

 

/ˌʾat/ [ˌʔɐt]? [ˌʔɛt]?

(marker of direct) object

/et/

אֵת
/t/ [
ːθ]

[ɛt]

/mawt/

/ˌmawt/ [ˌmɐwt]? [ˌmwt]? death of

/ˌmt/

מוֹת

/ˌmot/ [ˌmoːθ]

[ˌmot]

/gaˈlu/[55]

 

/gaˈdōl/ [ˈdoːl]

(qal inf. abs..) 'becoming great'

/gaːˈdōl/

גָּדוֹל[56]

/gˈdol/
[gɔ
ːˈoːl]

[gaˈdol]

/ˈgadulu/

/gaˈdl/ [ˈdoːl]

(adj.) great

/gaːˈdl/

גָּדוֹל

/gˈdol/
[gɔ
ːˈoːl]

[gaˈdol]

 

 

Box 18

Vowel System Modern Israeli Hebrew (IH)[57]

The five vowels are close to cardinal vowels in pronunciation: i, e, a, o, u. There is no phonetic contrast between long and short (or tense verses lax) vowels in Modern Hebrew. There are three diphthongs, uy, oy, ay created by a nonfront vowel followed by a front offglide, only in word-final position, e.g. kanuy bought, goy gentile, elay to me.

Quoted from Modern Hebrew by Ruth A. Berman in Hetzron 1997.

Though it would more accurate to transcribe /IH/ /a/ as [ɐ] etc. the exact pronunciation of [IH] is not germane to our topic and would add needless complications. Thus I will generally use the following, admittedly imprecise, [IH] transcriptions of vowels - [i, ɛ, a, o, u].

We can assume that IH vowels are longer than the short vowels of Ancient Hebrew but much shorter than Ancient Hebrew's long vowels.

 

d.2 Conventional Scholarly Transcription of the TH Vowel System (THCST)

As Joϋon-Muraoka 1991[58] correctly observes there are a "... bewilderingly large number of transliteration methods...." However, generally the transcription systems used in biblical scholarship follow -

(t)he accepted rules of Hebrew grammar, including the current Sephardic pronunciation ... (as) laid down in medieval Spain by grammarians such as Judah ben David Hayyuj and Jonah ibn Janah. By then the Tiberian notation was universally used, though it was not always reflected in pronunciation. The Spanish grammarians accepted the rules laid down by the Tiberian Masoretes, with the following variations.

1.      The traditional Sephardic pronunciation of the vowels (inherited, as it seems, from the old Palestinian system) was perpetuated. Their failure to fit the Tiberian notation was rationalized by the theory that the distinctions between Tiberian symbols represented differences of length rather than quality: thus patach was short a, qamatz was long a, segol was short e and tzere was long e.

2.      The theory of long and short vowels was also used to adapt Hebrew to the rules of Arabic poetic metre. For example, in Arabic (and Persian) poetry, when a long vowel occurs in a closed syllable an extra (short) syllable is treated as present for metrical purposes, though not represented in pronunciation. Similarly in Sephardic Hebrew a sheva following a syllable with a long vowel is invariably treated as vocal. (In Tiberian Hebrew this is only true when the long vowel is marked with meteg.).[59]

A widely used standard in this tradition is The Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Academic Translation Style (THSBL)[60]. Under this system the following transliterations are prescribed -

 

Table 22 - THSBL Transcription of TH Vowel System

Tiberian Vowel Sign

Name

SBL

Academic Translation Style[61]

Half-Vowel

Short Vowel

Long Vowel

i vowels

בִּ

short req

 

i

 

בִּ

long req

 

 

בִּי

req yd

 

 

[62]
(ִיּ = y)

e vowels

בֱּ בְּ

ḥatep sĕgōl/vocal ĕʾ

ĕ

 

 

בֶּ

sĕgōl

 

e

 

בֶּי

sĕgōl yd

 

 


(ֶיּ = y)

בֵּ

ēr

 

 

ē

בֵּי

ēr yd

 

 


(ֵיּ = y)

a vowels

בֲּ

ḥatep pataḥ

ă

 

 

בַּ

pataḥ

 

a

 

בַּח, בַּע

furtive pataḥ

 

a

 

בָּ

qāmeṣ gādl

 

 

ā

בָּה

final qāmeṣ h

 

 

ָיו

3d ms. suffix

 

 

āyw

o vowels

בֳּ

ḥatep qāmeṣ

ɔ̆

 

 

כָּל־

qāmeṣ ḥāp/ qāmeṣ qāān

 

ɔ

 

בֹּ

ōlem

 

 

ō

בּוֹ

full ōlem

 

 

u vowels

בֻּ

short qibbu

 

u

 

בֻּ

long qibbu

 

 

ū

בּוּ

req

 

 

 

 

There are plusses and minuses inherent in the use of the SPL, or similar THCST, system. The following examples are based on illustrations using the SPL notation for THCST -

Advantages:

1. It is claimed to be "...fully reversible: that is, the system allows the reader to reproduce the Hebrew characters exactly (consonants and vowels). However this is only true if the scholar is fully conversant with the detailed grammatical rules and eccentricities of TH. For example:

- whereas dāgē forte is indicated by doubling the consonant, a euphonic dāgē[63] is not doubled in the SBL system;

- both sĕgōl yd and ēr yd are transliterated as y.

2. It highlights the fact that vowel length was phonologically distinct, and audibly important in Ancient Hebrew as it is in most forms of Arabic. This is even more important if scholars actually pronounce, and hear in their mind, long vowels pronounced with at least twice the duration of short vowels (i.e. do not use modern Hebrew pronunciations which ignore historic vowel length). However, the distribution of long and short vowels produced mostly reflect the reconstructed reality of /PTH/+ which was systemically different from the /EBHP/ system of over a millennium earlier and the /TH/+ system of half a millennium later.

3. It provides a, more or less, common code for scholars.

Disadvantages:

1. As a proxy for EBH:

                     The long vowels ofTHCST include many vowels lengthened after the extinction of Hebrew as a spoken language. Put another way, many vowels which are long in THCST were short in EBH and LBH e.g. 'word' /EBH/ */daˈbaːr/; TH דָּבָר;THCST dābār;

                     Many short vowels