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Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/28. The Rise of New Vowels and Syllables

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§28. The Rise of New Vowels and Syllables.

28a 1. According to §26m a half-syllable, i.e. a consonant with Šewâ mobile (always weakened from a short vowel), can only occur in close dependence on a full syllable. If another half-syllable with simple Šewâ follows, the first takes a full short vowel again.[1] This vowel is almost always Ḥireq. In most cases it is probably an attenuation of an original ă, and never a mere helping vowel. In some instances analogy may have led to the choice of the ĭ. Thus, according to §102d, the prefixes בְּ, כְּ‍, לְ before a consonant with Šewâ mobile become בִּ, כִּ‍, לִ, e.g. בִּפְרִי, כִּפְרִי, לִפְרִי; before יְ they are pointed as in בִּֽיהוּרָה (from bi-yehedûā, according to §24c); so too with Wāw copulative, e.g. וִֽיהוּרָה for וִיְ׳ attenuated from וַי׳. The first half-

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syllable, after the restoration of the short vowel, sometimes combines with the second to form a firmly closed syllable, e.g. לִנְפֹּל Nu 143 for lĭnephōl, and so almost always in the infin. constr. after ל (§45g); in isolated cases also with כְ‍, as כִּזְכֹּר Jer 172.

28b 2. If a guttural with Ḥaṭeph follows, the original ă of the prefixes is retained before Ḥaṭeph Pathaḥ, but before Ḥaṭeph Seghol or Ḥaṭeph Qameṣ it is modified to the short vowel contained in the Ḥaṭeph. Thus arise the vowel groups ־ַֽ ־ֲ, ־ֶֽ ־ֱ, ־ָֽ ־ֳ, e.g. וַֽאֲנִי and I, כַּֽאֲשֶׁר as, לַֽעֲבֹד to serve, לֶֽאֱכֹל to eat, לָֽחֳלִי in sickness. On the Metheg with every such short vowel, see §16f, δ. Sometimes here also a fully closed syllable is formed. In such a case, the prefix takes the short vowel, which would have belonged to the suppressed Ḥaṭeph, e.g. לַחְטֹב for לַֽחֲטֹב; לַחְמָם Is 4714 for לַֽחֲמָם (see §67cc); לֶאְסֹר but also לֶֽאֱסֹר; and even וַעְצֹר Jb 42, cf. Gn 3216. So always in the Infin. and Imperat. Qal of the verbs הָיָה to be and הָיָה to live, e.g. לִֽהְיוֹת to be, וִֽהְיוּ and be ye; even with מִן, as מִֽהְיוֹת, on which cf. §102b; but וֶֽהְיֵה and be, וֶֽחְֽיֵה and live, have ĕ instead of ĭ under the prefix. For the Metheg, cf. §16f, ε.

28c 3. When a Ḥaṭeph in the middle of a word, owing to flexional changes, would stand before a vocal Še, it is changed into the short vowel, with which it is compounded. This applies especially to cases in which the Ḥaṭeph stands under a guttural instead of quiescent Še, as an echo of the preceding short vowel, e.g. יַֽעֲמֹד he will stand (for יַעְמֹד), but plur. יַעֽמֲדוּ for yaamedhû, and נֶֽהֶֽפְכוּ for nĕhäphekhû (they have turned themselves), פָּֽעָלְךָ thy work, cf. §26k. The syllables are to be divided yăʿă-medhû, and the second ă is to be regarded exactly as the helping Pathaḥ in נַ֫עַד, &c.[2]

28d 4. At the end of words, syllables occur which close with two consonants (§10i, §26r), but only when the latter of the two is an emphatic consonant (ט, ק) or a tenuis (viz. בּ, דּ, ךּ, תּ[3]), e.g. יֵשְׂטְ let him turn aside, וַיַּשְׁקְ and he caused to drink, אָמַ֫רְתְּ thou (fem.) hast said, וַיֵּבְךְּ and he wept, וְיֵרְדְּ and let him have dominion, וַיִּשְׁבְּ and he took captive.

28e This harsh ending is elsewhere avoided by the Masora,[4] which inserts between the two final consonants a helping vowel, usually Seghôl, but with medial or final gutturals a Pathaḥ,[5] and after י a Ḥireq, e.g. וַיִּ֫גֶל and he revealed, for wayyigl; יִ֫רֶב let it multiply, for yirb; קֹ֫דֶשׁ holiness, ground-form qudš; נַ֫חַל brook, ground-form naḥl; שָׁלַ֫חַתְּ[6]for שָׁלַחְתְּ thou hast sent; בַּ֫יִת house, ground-form bayt. These helping vowels are, however, to be regarded as exactly like furtive Pathaḥ (§22f, g); they do not alter the monosyllabic character of the forms, and they disappear before formative suffixes, e.g. קָדְשִׁ֫י my holiness, בַּ֫יְתָה home-ward.

28f 5. On the rise of a full vowel in place of a simple Še, under the influence of the pause, see §29m; on initial אֵ for אֱ, see §23h.

  1. Except וְ and, which generally becomes וּ before a simple Šewâ, cf. §104c.
  2. In Ju 1613 read תַּֽאַרְגִי not (with Opitius, Hahn and others) תארגּי.
  3. With a final ףְּ, the only example is תּוֹסְףְּ Pr 306, where several MSS. and printed editions incorrectly have ףְ without Dageš. Instead of this masoretic caprice we should no doubt read תּ֫וֹסֶף.
  4. An analogy to this practice of the Masora is found among the modern Beduin, who pronounce such a helping vowel before h, ḥ, ḫ, ġ; cf. Spitta, Gramm. des arab. Vulgärdialektes von Aegypten, Lpz. 1880, §43d.
  5. On the apparent exceptions דֶּשֶׁא, &c., cf. §22e; other instances in which א has entirely lost its consonantal value, and is only retained orthographically, are חֵטְא sin, גַּיְא valley (also גַּי), שָׁוְא vanity (Jb 1531 Kethîbh שָׁו).
  6. In this form (§65g) the Dageš lene remains in the final Tāw, although a vowel precedes, in order to point out that the helping Pathaḥ is not to be regarded as a really full vowel, but merely as an orthographic indication of a very slight sound, to ensure the correct pronunciation. An analogous case is יִחַדְּ yiḥăd from חָדָה (§75r).