Pronouncing "ארץ"...

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Brzeczyszczykiewicz
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Pronouncing "ארץ"...

Postby Brzeczyszczykiewicz » 2020-05-17, 7:55

The correct pronunciation of this one has puzzled me for quite some time now, and I'd enormously appreciate it if someone could shed some light on the matter.

As I understand it, it is usually pronounced "eretz" when it means "land" (as in "country") or when it refers to the Earth. However, I know it may also be pronounced "aretz" to refer to the state of Israel (Haaretz) and that that's where the famous Israeli newspaper got its name from.

But why is that so? Is it something arbitrary or is it something about using the word with the definite article? And if it's the latter, could you also say "הארץ", pronounced "haeretz", to mean any country other than Israel? :hmm:

Cheers!
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Re: Pronouncing "ארץ"...

Postby Drink » 2020-05-17, 12:41

It's actually not so complicated.

Without the definite article: eretz

With the definite article: ha'aretz

Now if you want to ask WHY that's the case, I honestly couldn't give you a complete answer. If you know what a pausal form is, then one thing to note is that the pausal form of eretz is aretz. But how that pausal form came to be used after the definite article in non-pausal positions, I have no idea.
שתה וגם גמליך אשקה

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Re: Pronouncing "ארץ"...

Postby Brzeczyszczykiewicz » 2020-05-18, 2:49

Thank you so much! Yes, now that I think of it, I've only ever seen it pronounced "aretz" when preceded by the definite article.
Your answer is more than fine for practical purposes. :) I'd still love to know what the mechanics are behind such changes, being the hopeless language freak I am :mrgreen: , and while I had heard about pausal forms before, I must admit I wasn't paying lots of attention, since I remember something about it being a feature of Biblical Hebrew and virtually absent in the modern form of the language, which is the one I'm studying.

However, your mentioning it made me dig online for some information on it, and while the results were rather disappointing, since most serious sources that deal with it are articles that are not free to read (just like with articles on Hebrew's mishkalim... :| ), I did find a few interesting bits here and there, like the fact that it appears to be a Massoretic feature and that it has even made some linguists question whether those pausal forms are actually the original forms of such words.
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Re: Pronouncing "ארץ"...

Postby Drink » 2020-05-20, 1:18

Well Modern Hebrew sometimes incorporates Biblical quotations as proverbs. Most speakers of Modern Hebrew learn the Bible in school in the original language and have some familiarity with it. I'm not saying it should be a priority of yours, but if you wanted to truly master Modern Hebrew, you would have to learn Biblical Hebrew at some point as well.

Brzeczyszczykiewicz wrote:like the fact that it appears to be a Massoretic feature

Well all things regarding the details of Hebrew pronunciation can be considered "Masoretic features", since they are the ones who wrote in and thus standardized the vowels.

Brzeczyszczykiewicz wrote:and that it has even made some linguists question whether those pausal forms are actually the original forms of such words.

Neither form is the "original" form. Rather the original form evolved into two separate forms, the regular one, and the pausal one (and the semi-pausal, but let's not get into that...). Sometimes the pausal form preserves a feature of the original form better than the non-pausal form, but sometimes the non-pausal form preserves a feature of the original form better than the pausal form. And sometimes both at once, as with the word לך (masculine), where the non-pausal form l'cha and the pausal form lach (yes, in pausal position, that is also masculine) together show that the original form had two "a" vowels: laka (just like in Classical Arabic).
שתה וגם גמליך אשקה

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Re: Pronouncing "ארץ"...

Postby Brzeczyszczykiewicz » 2020-05-20, 2:21

Drink wrote:Well Modern Hebrew sometimes incorporates Biblical quotations as proverbs. Most speakers of Modern Hebrew learn the Bible in school in the original language and have some familiarity with it. I'm not saying it should be a priority of yours, but if you wanted to truly master Modern Hebrew, you would have to learn Biblical Hebrew at some point as well.

Brzeczyszczykiewicz wrote:like the fact that it appears to be a Massoretic feature

Well all things regarding the details of Hebrew pronunciation can be considered "Masoretic features", since they are the ones who wrote in and thus standardized the vowels.

Brzeczyszczykiewicz wrote:and that it has even made some linguists question whether those pausal forms are actually the original forms of such words.

Neither form is the "original" form. Rather the original form evolved into two separate forms, the regular one, and the pausal one (and the semi-pausal, but let's not get into that...). Sometimes the pausal form preserves a feature of the original form better than the non-pausal form, but sometimes the non-pausal form preserves a feature of the original form better than the pausal form. And sometimes both at once, as with the word לך (masculine), where the non-pausal form l'cha and the pausal form lach (yes, in pausal position, that is also masculine) together show that the original form had two "a" vowels: laka (just like in Classical Arabic).


Learning Biblical Hebrew is, indeed, not one of my priorities right now, but I know myself well enough to feel certain I will learn at least some of it eventually, I'm just that way when it comes to languages. I remember boring an old friend to death with all my rambling about old and medieval forms of English, French, High German, Low German and whatnot! :mrgreen:

And the fact is I've already learned a couple of things about Biblical Hebrew, actually. The course book I'm using, while almost entirely focused on Modern Hebrew does give you info on two important and interesting features of Biblical Hebrew: the directional hei and the vav conversive. It was particularly useful to know about the former, because now words like קדימה, שמאלה and הביתה make a lot more sense.
As for the latter, I've not once seen it in Modern Hebrew, of course, but it sure is fundamental when reading passages from the Bible in Hebrew. I'm not even a religious person, mind you, but I do have a linguistic and literary interest in the Bible. I often use it along my adored etymological dictionary of Hebrew by Dr. Klein; I particularly love looking up all those hapax legomena. 8-)

I'm so sorry! Of course I know Hebrew pronunciation has everything to do with the Masoretes; what I meant (and clearly failed...) to write was that, according to what I found, pausal forms may be a late Masoretic development.

As for the "original forms", I came across the viewpoint you just stated, too: that the original form is actually a third, distinct form from the pausal and non-pausal ones, but I didn't know about the varying fidelity of each to said original forms. Definitely a very interesting topic!

And yes, one of the examples that I found while I was looking up this topic was precisely the one you mentioned; I guess it's hardly surprising since it is quite disconcerting when you first happen on it and know nothing about this. Just like reading the Quixote in English and seeing the pronoun "she" (or "it", for that matter) used to talk about the Don himself. :para:

You know, I've rather abandoned Arabic of late because of all the energy and time I've put into Hebrew, but I do plan on picking up where I left off soon enough; it sure will be even more fascinating and interesting now that I know much more Hebrew. :)
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