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Query Details

Query Subject:   Question on Segollate Words
Author:   Vadim Cherny
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Historical Linguistics

Query:   Dear Listmembers,

Recently, a student inquired me of the origin of segollate words (kelev). I have never particularly dwelled on the problem, and a quick search both in the library and Internet did not produce much suggestions.

I was able, however, to offer a hypothesis, which I describe below. It seems rather obvious and was probably advanced by someone else before. So, I would appreciate any references or informed criticism of it.

1. calAv (kamatz-kamatz)
2. cAlav (kamatz-kamatz, stress on the first syllable). Accent' shift to the first open light syllable seems common to vulgar dialects; cf. cEE.gar, ShEE.cago, DEE.troit, also in Russian pal'.tO -- pOl'.to, and in Ashkenazic SabbAth -- ShO'.bos
3. cAi.lav (kamatz-iud-kamatz). Introduction of iud to close the open stressed syllable is prominent in Ashkenazic.
4. cE.lav (tzere-kamatz). The ai sound transformed into the diphthong ae, approximated by tzere. Unlike the pure tzere, ae has more of kamatz sound.
5. cElv. Unstressed kamatz after heavily stressed tzere turned into the movable shva.

The form cElv led to three developments.

a. cElev (segol-segol) from cElv (tzere-shva). The phenomenon of tzere-shva dissolving into segol-segol can be observed in cotevt -- cotevet, mahbert -- mahberet.
b. cEl.bu. The tendency of tzere in open syllable to appropriate the next consonant to close the syllable is of the same nature as the tendency of introducing iud to close the open syllable with tzere, talmideinu. Shortening of tzere into patah or hirek, cAl.bu or sIf.ru, is due to the word elongation by unstressed suffix, like in itlabesh -- itlabashti.
c. cel.bI (pronoun suffix is stressed) from cEl.bu. Since tzere in cel.bI is actually ae, it dissolved when losing stress into either patah or hirek, thus sif.rI and cal.bI.

In plural with ending ei (tzere-iud), vulgar stress cannot fall on the first syllable, since tzere is generally stressed. Therefore, syllables are not transformed, and dagesh does not appear.

The necessary stressing of tzere explains another curiosity, the unstressed pronoun suffixes in verbs (dva.rhA, but catAv.ti). The original form of the past tense verbs, catEv (kamatz-tzere), transformed into catEv.ti, and shortened by unstressed suffix into catAv.ti. Rearrangement of the syllables explains the dagesh in the verb suffixes, while not in the noun suffixes.

Thank you in advance for your comments,


Vadim Cherny
LL Issue: 15.2681
Date posted: 28-Sep-2004


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