Thursday, December 14

The Seghol And Segholation in Hebrew

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The Seghol and Segholation in Hebrew

The Hebrew language is part of the Afro-Asiatic language and closely resembles Arabic and Aramaic. It is spoken by around five million people throughout the world and believed to have originated in Africa, although it is not entirely sure as to where in Africa.

The Hebrew language may seem a little complicated and will no doubt make the first time user’s eyes pop out. However, when you learn different things on their own, all together they form a very easy language to learn.

The seghol is the second syllable that takes the vowel in two syllable nouns and the segholation is the noun that gets the second syllable. Let us look at Tiberian Hebrew to understand seghol and segholation.

In Tiberian Biblical Hebrew, the stem forms of seghol and segholation forms into two different directions from the qVtl – these are I and u, generally making them become sere and holem, respectively.

Like others, these doubly checked high vowels are lowered to mid-high phones under the accent; however, a is raised to seghol in these bisyllabic forms. “This idiosyncracy has not passed unnoticed. Most scholars attribute the sound change to vowel assimilation (umlaut). According to this interpretation, original *qatl forms gained an anaptyctic vowel, [E], between the second and third radicals to which the *a-vowel eventually assimilated”.

“Once the word-final semivowel is replaced by its syllabic counterpart, these forms share a common phonological structure. They contain a low vowel which is followed by a single consonant and [T]. Under this condition, the singly checked low vowel is raised to a mid17 phone by partial assimilation to”. For example: lahi becomes lehi; ‘adi becomes ‘edi; pari becomes peri; yahi becomes yehi. This means that after nominal forms participate in tonic vowel lengthening which can be preserved in a pause, but in verbs, a pause is conditioned to expend the length of a vowel.

“If anaptyctic seghol developed from a copying process, it should be predictable from its phonological environment. Yet this anaptyctic vowel appears in *qatl, *qitl, and *qutl forms, whenever the environing consonants do not condition vowel raising or lowering. The seghol is the anaptyctic default and is not associated with a particular phonological environment, whether vocalic or consonantal. Thus anaptyctic [E] does not result from a copying process”.

Hebrew may seem to be a complicated language but, like with any language in the world, once you understand the basics, you will pick it up very easily.


Garr, w. Randall (1989) The Seghol and Segholation in Hebrew, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The University of Chicago Press.


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