Page:Compendious Syriac Grammar.djvu/51

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§§ 20. 21.
— 13 —

system are found also in other uses: thus, for instance, we may meet with an upper point lending emphasis to the word in a summons, a command, an interrogation. Such a point is not distinguishable in all cases, so far as appearance goes, from the points treated of in § 6 sq.






Beginning of the syllable. § 20. Every word and every syllable commences with a consonant. That no word can begin with a vowel sound is expressed clearly in Semitic writing by ܐ [preceding such sound], e. g. ܐܴܬܷܐ āthē, or rather ʾāthē "comes"; ܐܾܘܪܚܳܐ ʾurḥā "a way"; ܐܻܝܕܳܐ ʾīδā "hand," &c. In cases like ܝܺܕܰܥ "knew", the word is spoken as if it stood ܐܻܝܕܰܥ ʾīδaʿ, and so it is even written at times (§ 40 C).

No Syriac word begins originally with a double consonant. Yet such a consonant seems to have been produced by the falling away of a very short vowel in ܫܬܴ݁ܐ, ܫܬܻ݁ܝܢ štā, štīn (as well as ܐܷܫܬܴ݁ܐ, ܐܷܫܬ݁ܝܢ) "six", "sixty" (in East-Syriac also, ܫܬܻ݁ܬܴܝܳܐ "the sixth"; cf. the forms for sixteen § 148 B); in the later pronunciation still oftener, and even in other cases, as perhaps in ܟܣܷܐ ksē from ke̊sē "covered".

Doubling. § 21. The West-Syrians appear to have lost long ago the original doubling of a consonant; the East-Syrians seem generally to have retained it: the former, for example, pronounce עַמָּא "people", ܥܱܡܳܐ ʿamō, the latter ܥܲܡܵܐ ʿammā. Nearly every consonant then is to be held as doubled, which is preceded by a short vowel and followed by any vowel, thus ܩܱܛܶܠ "murdered", ܢܷܣܱܒ "takes" are pronounced qaṭṭel, nessav.

The absence of doubling may be relied on only when a softened consonant continues soft, e. g. ܐܷܬ݂ܳܐ ʾethā "came", not ʾeththā, for this softening, or assibilation, is inadmissible in a doubled letter; while on the contrary the hard sound in such a consonant after a vowel is a sure