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Hebrew vowels (was Re: tlhn'ks't, ngghlyam'ft, and other scary words)

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Thursday, February 6, 2003, 1:02
Kþav "Steg Belsky" <draqonfayir@...>

| On Wed, 5 Feb 2003 06:56:21 -0600 Danny Wier <dawier@...> writes:
| > Outside of Germanic, some languages to note:
| > Hindi: i I e ae (rI) @ a u U o O (10 or 11)
| > Hungarian: i e (E) ae y o/ a u o Q (10 or 11)
| > Hebrew: i I e E @ a u U o O A (11)

| (Biblical, like your list) Hebrew also has the ultrashort 'hhatafim',
| ultrashort [E] [a] and [O].  There may also have been some kind of
| distinction between phonemic 'hholam-hhaseir', [o]? < Semitic /u/ and
| 'hholam-malei', [o:]? < Semitic /aw/ and /a:/.

Well this is timely, since I was reading a document on Hebrew vocalism I found!
One of the issues discussed is whether or not Tiberian vowel pointing should be
interpreted quantitatively (as 5 vowels with short/long distinction) or
qualitatively (as 7 vowel qualities). I believe in both actually, where you have
a 5x2 vowel matrix, and a change in quality with e/e: and o/o:. The only
ambiguity is with /a:/ and /o/.

The means by which 3x2 vowels in common Semitic became 5x2+1 in Hebrew is one of
those linguistic issues I've always been fascinated about, and I'm trying to
make sense of it right now. Also the whole shwa issue.

Anyway, I always thought the ultrashort e/a/å are just... ultra-short short
e/a/å. Is there a change in quality and not just quantity?

| > Vietnamese: i e E ae a M G V u o O (11) *what's SAMPA for "baby
| > gamma"?
| > Korean: i e ae y o/ 1 @ a u o (10)
| > Hindi and Hebrew are different in that they don't have an
| > "Umlaut"-type system of fronting and backing.

| According to an analysis of Biblical Hebrew phonology i read by Gary
| Rendsburg, (if i understood it and remember it correctly) all the huge
| number of Hebrew vowels are pretty much just allophonic variations of the
| basic 6 Semitic vowels /a i u a: i: u:/.

And the basic Semitic diphthongs /ai/ and /au/. Hebrew is not alone as realizing
them as /e:/ and /o:/; Maghribi Arabic is one of the clearest examples. And
Maltese too I believe.