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

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.)


Blogger The back of the hill said...

Ah, that old-timey chnukish spirit!

Brings a tear to my eyes, every time.

12/08/2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

Sibilant after dental or palatal seems to be hard for Arabic speakers also: cf. Iskander for Alexander, and I have often heard "Itzik" pronounced as "Istik".

I wonder what the Arabic for "pizza" is.

(Googling brings me to http://www.pizzahutsaudia.com/ar/index.htm which writes it sometimes as بيتزا and sometimes as بيزا, but the question is how do the customers say it?)

3/05/2006 12:12 AM  
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