Miscellaneous Diq-dooq from Chevras HamMis-dakdekim.
"Oh no! The diqueduque geeques are here! Run for the hills!"Godol Hador, 06.29.06 2:45 pm

Languages covered so far:
•Modern Hebrew
•Tok Pisin

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Glossary II

I thought it was useful to list rare or confusing words that some of use, but that aren't as idiolectic as these. (In other words, terms that existed before we made them up...)

Pfille = Sidder, Jewish "prayerbook". West Yiddish parallel form of tfille < Hebrew תפילה.

Tole, the = the character Christians regard to be the moshiach < Hebrew תלוי 'hanged, hung'. (Never mind he wasn't hanged. I mean, provided he lived at all.)

Here's to Chnucke!

Anyone f'r a Shnei Zeisem?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Questions with plosive implications

As the resident lay-person on the Mis-Dakdek crew, this post comes in the form of a triumvirate of questions.

In the hitpa`el form of verbs, generally the letter ת is used (eg להתנגד). However, sometimes, specifically when the first letter of the shoresh is a sibilant such as ז or צ, the ת is replaced by one of Hebrew’s other alveolar plosives (?) ד and ט, and goes after the first shoresh letter. Examples include להזדקן and להצטלם.

First question: why is this?

MG: The first step, metathesis, occurs even if the root begin with a samekh. I guess the ancients must have found it difficult to pronounce a sibilant after a dental. (Interestingly, today's Ashkenazzim & Israelis don't find it difficult at all, for they do it every time they pronounce a tsadhi.

The second step is what we call "assimilation". Zayin is a voice letter, so the dental becomes voiced, as well. Sadhi is an "emphatic" consonant (Steg or Lipman can explain this better than I), so the dental becomes emphatic, as well.

Second question: what does this say (if anything) about the phonemic relationship between the three letters (ת,ט ,ד), taking a sort of historical reconstruction approach?

Those three consonants form a Semitic triplet: voiced ד, unvoiced ת, and emphatic ט. While the system has broken up in different languages, it's reconstructed as almost a completely parallel system in Proto-Semitic.
Interdental: Ð (dh), Þ (th), Þ (th)
(merged with Z, Š, and (t)S in Hebrew)

dental: D, T, T

alveolar affricate/fricative: Dz, Ts, Ts / Z, S, S (depending on theory)
I like the affricate theory because it makes the Ashkenazic צ an ancient tradition and not an innovation.

laterals: L, Ll, Ll (to use Welsh orthography) / L, Ś, Ś (to use Semiticist orthography)
(Ll merged with (t)S in Hebrew, like all non-ט dental emphatics)

velar: G, K, K (=Q)

Some theorize that there was also an original triplet B, P, P, but it's hard to reconstruct a phoneme P for sure; there are a few anomalous cognates among the Semitic languages where one language has B and another has P, but it's iffy.

Third: I have been told that a clue to the “t” pronunciation for ט is its appearance in ketav `Ivri as an amalgam of the letters ת and ע. Is there basis for this?

(Note to the Mis-Dakdek society: you may post answers either in the body of the post [perhaps distinguished by Italics] or in the comments.)

Important MS Found

An important early girso of a piyyut has been found. See here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I have noticed that the "SLaM Kavvana Club" (Steg, Lipman, and Mar) has developed its own terminology for a number of things. This is to be a collaborative post, on which all members are encouraged to work.

Let me (Mar Gavriel) start it out with a few:

[NB: Red items are Steg's coinages; blue items are MarGavriel's coinages; green items are Lipman's coinages.]

Dickdook = grammar. (Note: this spelling is used only in sexual contexts.)
Dog-and-Pon(e)y Show = Qabbālath Shabbāth
Ohrrer-Forrer = præcentor (שליח ציבור)
Shnei Zeisim = a mixed drink, made with two olives (שני זיתים), and with some sugar or salt on top, to create the appearance of snow (Schnee). See recipe.
Tequila Gedolah = literally, a popular Mexican drink for Rōsh Hasshānā. However, it has a number of figurative connotations, as well, especially in certain fixed expressions. I'm not sure exactly what these are; perhaps Lipman can help.
Wierd = weird. The normal English spelling weird is also used, at least by Steg and Lipman, but must be preceded by an asterisk.

Hwat shall we do?

The Yiddish word kvatter, 'godfather' at the brismile in Western Y, and one of three honours at the bris in Eastern Y, is related to the MHG gevatter. If we graciously leave aside the minor details that the latter is a loan translation of the gallechishe compater, while the English godfather isn't only unrelated, but the god- is actually originally good-, we come the this dilemma:

The word *god is reduced to a mere ק, which we can hardly replace by a ק!

You think we can turn the tables? Only in parts of the world. In most parts of Iceland, as far as I know, hv represents /kv/ (in others /hf/), and frankly, I don't know so many other languages that have a considerable frequency of -hv- anyway. In fact, there's an Icelandic word hvattar, meaning something like "speed up!"

So hwat can we do? Nothing.