Segolate Nouns

Serafim.

New Member
Turkish
שלום

I'd like to ask a question about segolate nouns.

The main and general description of segolate nouns in the books is as follows ;
1) Nouns with segol as their last vowel like סֵפֶר.
2) Stressed on the next-to-last syllable.

But there are some nouns which cannot be fixed in the first rule.
for example : פֶּרַח , נַעַר, רוֹחַב

firstly
When I hear a segolate noun in a conversation, I can guess that it is segolate noun because of its stress(rule2) however when I read a text how can I recognize if it is segolate or not.

secondly
I know that the presence of the guttural letters make them irregular however could you please advise me what is the rules make them irregular ? On what ground do their vowels (their first, second or both vowels) change to patah, tsere, holam ?

תודה על עזרתכם מראש
 
  • ks20495

    Senior Member
    Hebrew and English
    When I hear a segolate noun in a conversation, I can guess that it is segolate noun because of its stress(rule2) however when I read a text how can I recognize if it is segolate or not.

    You can't really tell in a text without vowels. Most three-letter words, however, are segolate. Most - but not all.

    I know that the presence of the guttural letters make them irregular however could you please advise me what is the rules make them irregular ? On what ground do their vowels (their first, second or both vowels) change to patah, tsere, holam ?

    If the final letter is ח or ע, the second vowel becomes a פתח.
    For example: רֶגַע, שֶקַע, נֶצַח

    If the second letter is ח or ע, both vowels become פתח.
    For example: נַעַר, שַׁחַר, כַּעַס

    On what ground do their vowels (their first, second or both vowels) change to patah, tsere, holam ?

    The vowels don't change to צירי or חולם.
    As far as צירי, there are simply a few segolate nouns that have a צירי as their first vowel instead of a סגול. These must be memorized. (For example: סֵפֶר.)

    As far as חולם, there is similarly a group of segolate nouns that have a חולם as their first vowel instead of a סגול. You can obviously tell which one these are. (For example: כֹּתֶל, אֹרֶךְ, קֹמֶץ.)

    The rules regarding the guttural sounds apply to these segolate nouns as well. For this reason, we say רֹחַב.
     

    rlaszlo

    New Member
    Hungarian
    Segolata nouns come from earlier substantives of the form: CVCC (C=consonant, V= vowel). Later on they put in a helping vowel after the second vowel for the easier pronunciation. There were only 3 vowels: a, i, u. CaCC -> CeCeC (e=segol), CiCC -> CeCeC (e=tsere), CuCC -> CoCeC. The stress reamins on the last syllable but one, because the last vowel is not "real", only auxiliary.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    Why is the word לחם sometimes spelled with Segol לֶחֶם and sometimes spelled with Kamatz לָחֶם ? According to the rule above it has ח as a second letter, so it should always be spelled with Kamatz. Yet it is usually spelled with Segol. Is there some sort of rule at play here, or is this something that simply needs to be memorized?
     
    Last edited:

    rlaszlo

    New Member
    Hungarian
    You see לָחֶם only in particular places (generally at the end of a sentence) in the Bible. It has no relevance in Moderm Hebrew. As to the segol in spite of middle chet, it is just an exception and needs to be memorized. There are some other words of this kind, but not much. I remember only one: רֶחֶם which means womb, uterus.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Why does רֶגַע (moment) have a סגול while שֵׁמַע (renown) has a צירי? They both have a guttural as the third letter, so that can’t be the reason.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    The stressed vowel of a segolate can be either segol (e.g. צדק), tzere (e.g. סדר), or cholam (e.g. גודל).

    Only the segol would change to patach when followed by a guttural (e.g. צער; with the notable exceptions לחם and רחם), the other two would stay the same (e.g. זוהר).

    (Though come to think of it, I can't think of any examples of a segolate with a tzere followed directly by a guttural, perhaps that means the tzere does become patach in such a case.)
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Only the segol would change to patach when followed by a guttural (e.g. צער; with the notable exceptions לחם and רחם), the other two would stay the same (e.g. זוהר). (Though come to think of it, I can't think of any examples of a segolate with a tzere followed directly by a guttural, perhaps that means the tzere does become patach in such a case.)

    Yes, in some sense, the tsere does become a patach when followed by a guttural. However, this description is misleading from a diachronic point of view, and is perhaps not the best way of understanding the vocalisation of segholate nouns, putting as it does the cart before the horse.

    Historically, segholate nouns in Hebrew derive from monosyllabic triliteral roots in proto-Semitic of the type CVCC, with a short vowel between the first two root consonants, thus /QaTL/, /QiTL/ or /QuTL/. Recall, though, that proto-Semitic had case endings, thus, in the nominative, /QaTLun/, for instance. The loss of case endings in Hebrew produced a consonant cluster at the end of the word /QaTL/, so an epenthetic vowel developed to aid pronunciation /QaTeL/, but this was not a true vowel, which is why segholate nouns retain the stress on the first syllable. In the case of a noun like מֶלֶךְ, where the stem vowel was originally /a/, as it still is in Arabic مَلِك and resurfaces in Hebrew when a pronominal ending is added מַלְכִּי, a further change took place, usually attributed to some sort of vowel harmony, whereby the stem vowel assimilated to the epenthetic vowel.

    /malkun/ → /malk/ → /málek/ → /mélek/

    In the case where the second root consonant was a guttural, the final step was prevented, whence segholates like נַעַר and פַּחַד. Thus, to say that the ‘seghol would change to a patach when followed by a guttural’ in fact inverts the historical order of things, because, really, it was a patach that failed change to seghol.

    In the case of segholates with tsere as the stem vowel, e.g., סֵפֶר, these would historically have derived from a /QiTL/ base, with the stem vowel reëmerging in the suffixed form סִפְרִי. Where the second root consonant was a guttural, however, the historical /i/ generally shifted to /a/. This means that, for the most part, they became indistinguishable from second-gutturals whose stem vowel was /a/. Indeed, for many segholate nouns vocalised in /a–a/, it is impossible to say whether the original stem vowel was /a/ or /i/. Even the suffixed forms are no help, since the patach is retained, e.g., נַעֲרִי.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Usually when people describe language, they are describing it synchronically.

    If someone asks why it happens, then it makes sense to explain diachronically.

    So I don't think it's misleading at all to describe a language synchronically, even when it doesn't match the diachronic explanation.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    My beef with the contention that ‘the tsere becomes a patach’ when followed by a guttural is that the tsere never existed in the first place. Suppose I challenged you to give an example of the tsere becoming a patach in such a case? (I’ll even accept a synchronic example, so I am not expecting you to identify a root with /i/ as the historical stem vowel.) I’ll warrant that you can’t, in which case it becomes questionable whether the proposed rule even makes any sense.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Ok, I understand better what your overall point was.

    However, I still disagree.

    The tzere exists in roots without an immediately following guttural, as in the examples cited (שמע, סדר, etc.). It is in relation to that set of roots that you can say that the tzere "becomes" a patach when immediately followed by a guttural. You of course cannot give any actual examples of this, since there is no way to distinguish the hypothetical tzere-group from the hypothetical segol-group.

    But the non-existence of specific cases is not actually a problem. Or else you should have a problem with saying things like the shva na "becomes" a chataf-patach under a guttural in words like חקירה. This is a normal way of describing this phenomenon. However, if you were to demand a specific example that proves there is supposed to be a shva there, you can't provide one, because only words without a guttural there have a shva, while words with a guttural there never do.

    If you were to describe this in rigorous scientific terms, you would never say anything "becomes" anything diachronically. You would only describe things in static terms, something like "A tzere and segol cannot occur in this position, while patach can." But such precise language is not necessary when speaking in laymen's terms.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Hmm... I don't know. I am still uncomfortable with saying that tsere becomes a patach when followed by a guttural, because I never imagined the tsere to be there in the first place. As for your counterexample, I am not sure that I would say that the simple schwa becomes a compound schwa under a guttural in words like חֲקִירָה.

    There is a situation where I would be comfortable with this sort of language, though. Take the verb חָקַרְתָּ, for instance. If you add an object suffix, say ני, then the qamets under the first radical should reduce to a schwa, thus *חְקַרְתַּנִי. However, because of the guttural, the simple schwa turns into a compound schwa, whence חֲקַרְתַּנִי. To me, this is borderline acceptable, because you can hypothesise the presence of a schwa in applying the rule for non-guttural consonants, but, even so, I would be more happy not to use such language.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I really see no difference between your example of חקרתם and my example of חקירה. In both cases, the only reason to expect a shva is by comparison with the non-guttural paradigm. So either it's valid to compare to the non-guttural paradigm (in which case you can in laymen's terms use the word "becomes"), or it's not valid (in which case the qamatz reduces to a chataf-patach and there is no reason to bring up the shva). But looking at the two paradigms in this unconnected way could only make sense in a rigorous analysis, not in ordinary everyday language learning. l for laymen. I'm not writing a linguistic dissertation here, I'm only explaining language to a layperson.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    I really see no difference between your example of חקרתם and my example of חקירה. In both cases, the only reason to expect a shva is by comparison with the non-guttural paradigm.

    I take your point. I suppose for the noun, one would expect the vocalisation *חְקִירָה in line with other nouns of this pattern, but the 'schwa turns into a compound schwa' חֲקִירָה because of the guttural. As I said, though, I am not really very happy with this sort of language, even for the example of the verb I cited.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Even the word patakh itself (as in חֲטַף פַּתַח‎) is a segholate noun, and is therefore pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. That's what our teacher told us anyway.
     
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