• To Belabour the Points: Encoding Vowel Phonology in Syriac and Hebrew Vocalization

    Author(s):
    Nick Posegay (see profile)
    Date:
    2021
    Group(s):
    Digital Syriac Corpus, Early Medieval, Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, Islamicate Studies, Syriac Studies
    Subject(s):
    Hebrew, Hebrew language, Jewish-Christian relations, Medieval Jewish history, Middle Eastern Christianity, Syriac
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Jewish-Christian Dialogue
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/v4k7-4f39
    Abstract:
    Medieval Hebrew and Syriac scribes both indicated vowels by placing dots above or below their consonantal writing. These vowel points were created in the Late Antique and early Islamic periods to disambiguate the vocalization of important texts, especially the Bible. The earliest step in this process was the implementation of the Syriac 'diacritic dot' system, which used a single dot to distinguish pairs of homographs: a dot 'above' marked a word with relatively-backed vowels, and a dot 'below' marked its homograph with relatively-fronted vowels. This graphic depiction conveyed a phonological association of 'height' with 'backness', and that association then entered the Masoretic Hebrew tradition in the form of milleʿel ('above') and milleraʿ ('below') homograph comparisons. In turn, this principle of backness as 'height' informed the later placement of both the Syriac and the Tiberian Hebrew vowel points.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    10 months ago
    License:
    All-Rights-Granted
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