[25d] 3. Short vowels in closed syllables (§26b), which are not final, are as a rule unchangeable, e.g. מַלְבּוּשׁ garment, מִדְבָּר wilderness, מַמְלָכָה kingdom; similarly, short vowels in sharpened syllables, i.e. before Dageš forte, e.g. גַּנָּב thief.
[25e] 4. Finally, those long vowels are unchangeable which, owing to the omission of the strengthening in a guttural or ר, have arisen by lengthening from the corresponding short vowels, and now stand in an open syllable, e.g. מֵאֵן for mĭʾʾēn; בֹּרַךְ for burrakh.
[26a] Apart from the unchangeable vowels (§25), the use of short or long vowels, i.e. their lengthening, shortening, or change into vocal Šewâ, depends on the theory of syllable-formation. The initial and final syllables especially require consideration.
1. The initial syllable. A syllable regularly begins with a consonant, or, in the case of initial ו and י (cf. note on §5b), a consonantal vowel. The copula is a standing exception to this rule. According to the Tiberian pronunciation וְ and is resolved into the corresponding vowel וּ before Šewâ, and the labials, e.g. וּדְבַר, וּמֶ֫לֶךְ; the Babylonian punctuation in the latter cases writes וֿ, i.e. וְ before a full vowel.
[26b] 2. The final syllable. A syllable may end—
(a) With a vowel, and is then called an open or simple syllable, e.g. in קָטַ֫לְתָּ where the first and last are open. See below, e.
[26c] (b) With one consonant, and is then called a simple closed or compound syllable, as the second in קָטַל, לֵבָב. See below, o, p. Such are also the syllables ending in a strengthened consonant, as the first in קַטֵּל qaṭ-ṭēl. See below, q.
[26e] 3. Open or simple syllables have a long vowel, whether they have the tone as in בְּךָ֫ in thee, יֵ֫לֶךְ he goes, or are toneless as in קָטַ֫ל, עֵנָ֫ב a bunch of grapes. A long vowel (Qameṣ, less frequently Ṣere) is
- Cf. C. H. Toy, ‘The Syllable in Hebrew,’ Amer. Journal of Philol., 1884, p. 494 ff.; H. Strack, ‘The Syllables in the Hebrew Language,’ Hebraica, Oct. 1884, p. 73 ff.
- We are not taking account here of the few eases in which initial Yodh is represented as simple i, by being written אִי or אִ, see §24e, and especially §47b, note; nor of certain other eases in which א with an initial vowel has only a graphic purpose, though it is indispensable in an unpointed text.
- In opposition to this fundamental law in Hebrew (a long vowel in an open syllable), the original short vowel is found always in Arabic, and sometimes in the other Semitic languages, except of course in the case of naturally long vowels. The above examples are pronounced in Arabic bĭkă, qătălă, ʿĭnăb. Although it is certain therefore that in Hebrew also, at an earlier period, short vowels were pronounced in open syllables, it may still be doubted whether the present pronunciation is due merely to an artificial practice followed in the solemn recitation of the O.T. text. On this hypothesis we should have still to explain, e.g. the undoubtedly very old lengthening of ĭ and ŭ in an open syllable into ē and ō.