odd spelling of עכשיו

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by farzam, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. farzam Member

    BE - Dutch
    Hello everyone,

    Apparently I'm not the only learner of Hebrew who's having a hard time figuring out why עכשיו ("now") is written with yod when it is not even pronounced.

    Is the spelling of this word simply an oddity in Hebrew or am I correct in assuming this has something to do with the modern Hebrew spelling system called "Ktiv male"? As a way of testing my theory, I looked up the word without dots in this dictionary, where it gave me the correct English translation.

    Then I did it the other way around and found the vowelized translation for the word "now" to be written without yod, i.e. "עַכְשָׁו". Can anyone clarify this for me, please? Is there some written - or unwritten - rule explaining this phenomenon and do you have any similar examples?

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  2. origumi Senior Member

    There are two such words, עכשיו and סתיו. Adding the yod is indeed a matter of Ktiv Male, but I don't think there's any kind of rule. Just like that. סתיו is Biblical and עכשיו is of later time ("לשון חכמים"), so this does not seem like a result of foreign influence or period-related preference.
  3. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    This also appears in the third-person-singular possessive-of-a-plural suffix. Put simply, as an example "his laws" chukav חוקיו. It also appears as a suffix for words such as אחרי-אחריו meaning after him, in which case the subject of the preposition is singular rather than plural.
    So its not just an anomaly seen in stav and achshav.
    How it came to be spelt with an obsolete yod I don't know.
  4. ystab Senior Member

    In the third-person-singular possessive-of-a-plural suffix the yod appears with niqqud and without it - חוקָיו - contrary to סתָו, עכשָׁו, יחדָו.
  5. origumi Senior Member

    I guess that the yod in this case is of the plural rather than a Mater Lectionis.
  6. C_J Member

    The official rule for ktiv hasar nikqud is: A consonantal vav that appears at the end of the word and has a preceding "a" vowel (kamatz/patah) should be written with a yod (before the vav):
    עכשו, סתו, יחדיו - עכשיו, סתיו, יחדיו
    This rule doesn't apply to monosyllabic words:
    וו, צו, קו, תו
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  7. origumi Senior Member

    Is this a rule, or simply formalization of the way these three words are written? Are there any more examples?

    סתיו is also a monosyllable word, which makes 33% percents of the cases seen so far - exceptions.


    Added: another interesting example is ענו - עניו (humble). In Numbers 12:3 it appears as ענו but the traditionally its read as עָנָיו (this is an example of niqqud + yod).
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  8. C_J Member

    This is an official Academy rule. Setav is not monosyllabic (just like zeman isn't o_O).
    You can create more examples with the "plural+his" suffix: ידיו, מעשיו, מימיו and so on. There aren't many other words that have a final consonantal vav in Hebrew (stav and akhshav are Aramaic).

    The Aramaic לאו doesn't follow this rule, since it only used in Aramaic phrases (which follow Aramaic spelling): לאו הכי, לאו מילתא זוטרתא היא
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  9. origumi Senior Member

    סתיו is Hebrew. And it follows the behavior of עניו described above: written in the Bible as סתו but traditionally סְתָיו (Song of Songs 2:11). So if the Academia authored a rule, it yields minimal benefit.

    שווא נע is a syllable? Usually it's not counted as such.

    Plurals are another issue, as the historical development is different.
  10. C_J Member

    סתיו is Aramaic, it's first appearence is indeed in the Song of Songs, which has many Second Temple period loan words... There might have been a Hebrew cognate (like Arabic شتاء), but "stav" is not it. Hebrew preferred the word "חורף" for winter instead of "סתיו" (which also means "winter"). "סתיו" was "recycled" with the meaning of "autumn" in modern Hebrew to describe this foreign phenomenon (conversely, Arabic has الشتاء for winter, and الخريف for autumn).

    Shva na is considered "a vowel" for most of the Academy's rules (regardless of pronunciation).

    In other cases the consonontal vav is doubled (unless it is the first letter of the word or it is adjacent to another vav), maybe they didn't want a "double vav" at the end of the word so they prescribed "yod-vav" instead.

    Some instances: ועד>הוועד, וילון>הווילון - ווילון, מצווה - מצוות
    So: וועד, וווילון, מצווות and הועד, הוילון,מצוה are wrong (at least in ktiv hasar niqud)
  11. origumi Senior Member

    On what basis you claim that סתיו is borrowed from Aramaic? It existed indeed in Aramaic as סתוא, appears only once in the Bible, most likely means winter in both languages, and yet can be genuine Hebrew.

    The dating of Song of Songs as postexilic is questionable, for example:

    The Song of Songs was written circa 900 BC, in the northern dialect of ancient Hebrew, by an author of unsurpassed literary ability, adept at the techniques of alliteration and polyprosopon, able to create the most sensual and erotic poetry of his day, and all the while incorporating into his work a subtext critical of the Judahite monarchy in general and Solomon in particular.[9] (Noegel and Rendsburg, 2009)
  12. C_J Member

    The same Wikipedia entry also states: "Other scholars have argued that some of the words used in the text are Persian, which sets the written date to the postexilic period. Solomon lived in the tenth century BCE which is much earlier than the postexilic period. Solomon may not have been the author based from some of the words being used.[10]"
    This is not the point though, there are loanwords even in the oldest of the Tanakh texts (Akkadian usually). פרדס, היכל etc. are 100% Hebrew but they were loaned from Akkadian and Persian.

    As for "stav", I admit that the main thing that lead me to claim that it's Aramaic was presisely the final consonantal vav, which is very rare in Hebrew and is usually avoided. "Stav" (=winter) appears only once in the bible, "horef" (=winter) appears at least nine times and incidentally, "sitva/satva" is the Aramaic word for winter (targum gives "sitva" for "horef")...

    Perhaps you are right, and I should've made a more reserved claim; after all it is possible that "stav" is the Israelite-dialect word for winter (the Bible uses the Judean dialect mostly). Israelite Hebrew actually favours the "aw" ("av") ending, it is even used as the dual suffix ("hodshaw" instead of "hodshayim" as seen on Gezer tablet).
    Now that I think of it, it seems that this is the right etymology, looks like this is the Hebrew cognate after all, and the final vav is probably dialectal... BTW Noegel and Rendsburg also state that "The Song of Songs was written ... in the northern dialect of ancient Hebrew..."
  13. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France
    Unburying this thread since it's related to a more recent one.

    I'm adding a couple items to the list of words ending in יו :
    - סטיו stav, a portico
    - שליו slav, a quail
    - and ironically, וי"ו, the vav letter itself...

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