only in later Arabic that they became in pronunciation ê and ô, at least after weaker or softer consonants; cf. בֵּין Arab. bain, bên, יוֹם Arab. yaum, yôm. The same contraction appears also in other languages, e.g. in Greek and Latin (θαῦμα, Ionic θῶμα; plaustrum = polostrum), in the French pronunciation of ai and au, and likewise in the German popular dialects (Oge for Auge, &c.). Similarly, the obscuring of the vowels plays a part in various languages (cf. e.g. the a in modern Persian, Swedish, English, &c.).
[7b] 2. The partial expression of the vowels by certain consonants (ה, ו, י; א), which sufficed during the lifetime of the language, and for a still longer period afterwards (cf. §1k), must in the main have passed through the following stages:—
(a) The need of a written indication of the vowel first made itself felt in cases where, after the rejection of a consonant, or of an entire syllable, a long vowel formed the final sound of the word. The first step in such a case was to retain the original final consonant, at least as a vowel letter, i.e. merely as an indication of a final vowel. In point of fact we find even in the Old Testament, as already in the Mêšaʿ inscription, a ה employed in this way (see below) as an indication of a final o. From this it was only a step to the employment of the same consonant to indicate also other vowels when final (thus, e.g. in the inflection of the verbs ל״ה, the vowels ā, ē, è). After the employment of ו as a vowel letter for ô and û, and of י for ê and î, had been established (see below, e) these consonants were also employed—although not consistently—for the same vowels at the end of a word.
[7c] According to §91b and d, the suffix of the 3rd sing. masc. in the noun (as in the verb) was originally pronounced הוּ. But in the places where this הוּ with a preceding a is contracted into ô (after the rejection of the ה), we find the ה still frequently retained as a vowel letter, e.g. עִירֹה, סוּתֹה Gn 4911, cf. §91e; so throughout the Mêšaʿ inscription אַרְצֹה, בֵּיתֹה (also בֵּתֹה), בְּנֹה, בֹּה, לֹה, הִלְתַּֽחֲמֹה; on the other hand already in the Siloam inscription רֵעוֹ. ימה Mêšaʿ, l. 8 = יָמָיו his days is unusual, as also רשה l. 20 if it is for ראשיו his chiefs. The verbal forms with ה suffixed are to be read וַיַּלְפֵהֻ (l. 6), וָֽאֶסְחָבֵהֻ (l. 12f.) and וַיְגָֽרְשֵׁהֻ (l. 19).
[7d] As an example of the original consonant being retained, we might also include the י of the constr. state plur. masc. if its ê (according to §89d) is
- In Sanskrit, in the Old Persian cuneiform, and in Ethiopic, short a alone of all the vowels is not represented, but the consonant by itself is pronounced with short a.
- Cf. especially Stade, Lehrb. der hebr. Gr., p. 34 ff.
- According to Stade, the employment of ה for ā probably took place first in the case of the locative accusatives which originally ended in ־ָה, as אַ֫רְצָה, קָדִ֫ימָה.
- The form רעו contradicts the view of Oort, Theol. Tijds., 1902, p. 374, that the above instances from the Mêšaʿ-inscription are to be read benhu, bahu, lahu, which were afterwards vocalized as beno, bo, lo.