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Lipman's

Ore and let davven.™

Mail: lippomano@gmail.com

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Purr...

"Ashkenazi" r is a bit of a puzzle, because:

- Iraqi Jews have it as well.

- In German, the surrounding vernacular, it's rather recent and not at all used in all regions. (It somehow spread from Northern urban French.)

- Davke the Franconian dialects, often seen as the basis for Yiddish, have an apical flapped/trilled r until today. (For that matter, even Southern French varieties retained this, though, on the other hand, some Northern Italian dialects have the uvular r.)

- Most Yidden in Eastern Europe had the uvular r, in spite of the fact that at the time of (their ancestors') emigration from Germany, Germans had the apical, as have the Slavic languages from Polish eastwards, the Baltic languages and coterritorial Eastern German dialects until today.

- Reish can't be "geminated" according to the massoretes, which is (otherwise?) typical of velar and uvular consonants.

The whole thing isn't easy, or, in other words, I'm not simply claiming this was the pronunciation since Môshe Ghabbeinu.

Tidbits: In Russian, the uv. pr. is seen as a Jewish accent, in Czech as aristocratic, in Hungarian as dandyish, in Swedish it's typical of the Southerners, in Italy of the Northeners, whereas the apical r is seen as rural/Southern in French, rural/Southern/Frisian in German, low-prestige/Mizrachi in Ivrit, formal/snobbish/Scotch [sic!] in English.

And: If it isn't the "Parisian" gh fricative, but still a flap/trill, though uvular, many people don't hear the difference! (Try finding a sound clip of Václav Havel.)

Iraqi pronunciation doesn't differentiate between gimel degushe and gimel refuye, but I wonder if at the time they still did, the difference between gh and r was fricative vs. trill. Of course, gh could have been more palatal.

It's still not entirely clear how and where cats produce their purring sound.

36 Comments:

Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

formal/snobbish/Scotch

Scotch? What about Bourbon?

Iraqi pronunciation doesn't differentiate between gimel degushe and gimel refuye, but I wonder if at the time they still did....

Did they ever? Does Babylonian vocalization even indicate dog(h)esh qal?

It's still not entirely clear how and where cats produce their purring sound.

Why don't you ask your cats?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

:) If you'd post more, you'd get more hits!

Sunday, October 30, 2005 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Habib of KiwiJewPundit said...

Lipman,

thank you for your splendid answer to the question I asked of Mar Gavriel. 2 things:

1. One aspect of my question that remains is how the Ashke-reish became standard in Israel, given its lack of Palestinian pedigree. But I guess that begs the wider question of how "modern Hebrew" pronunciation came about -- perhaps a mixed linguistic/socio-political/historical/religious one.

2. I am told that the uv pr. in northern French is itself rather recent -- one linguist told me it happened over the 19th C. Is that true according to your understanding?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Habib of KiwiJewPundit said...

It's still not entirely clear how and where cats produce their purring sound.

Incidentally, thanks to you, I am now convinced that my cat, though ginger, is somehow Czech.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:22:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

how the Ashke-reish became standard in Israel, given its lack of Palestinian pedigree. But I guess that begs the wider question of how "modern Hebrew" pronunciation came about -- perhaps a mixed linguistic/socio-political/historical/religious one.

Exactly. Simply put, the phonetics of Israeli Ivrit is Eastern Ashkenazi, the phonemics Italian filtered through several centuries of German protestant scholars.

uv pr. in northern French
The more rural, the later. In certain regions (Brittany), add the Celtic layer.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:24:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

my cat, though ginger, is somehow Czech

Is she purring řřřřřř?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:26:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

And while we're at cats:
Scotch? What about Bourbon?

That would be an Arab cat: burrrrrr. (Strange association: Both qat and Bourbon are intoxicating.)

But for those who wondered: Scotch is Scottish in Scotts, formerly Scottis.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Strange association: Both qat and Bourbon are intoxicating.

These kinds of associations are what make blogging fun. Mezresh u-psikho'analize!

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Lipman, check your e-mail. There is a certain post (re: grammatical issues related to Sukkes prayers) that I would like to blog, but I need your permission to include your comments in the exchange.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

u-psikho'analize

Not uf-?! I'm shockidh.

What does DB think about Midrash, or: Vas halt DovBear fun Mezresh?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 2:15:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Not uf-?! I'm shockidh.

You should symbolize your state of mind to me by showing me a "mokeil shockidh".

What does DB think about Midrash, or: Vas halt DovBear fun Mezresh?

Either this is a total non-sequitur, or I'm missing something.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 2:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

What does DB think about Midrash, or: Vas halt DovBear fun Mezresh?

Why do you mix pre-Ashkenazic "vas" with EA "fun" (for "fon")?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 2:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Habib of KiwiJewPundit said...

Strange association: Both qat and Bourbon are intoxicating.
But only qatnip is intoxicating to my apparently Bohemian shunnařřřřřřa.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 3:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Habib of KiwiJewPundit said...

But for those who wondered: Scotch is Scottish in Scotts, formerly Scottis.
However, Scotch is generally seen by Caledonians as being a pejorative term. They prefer "Scots" or "Scottish".

Sunday, October 30, 2005 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

shunnařřřřřřa

Are you sure it's shunnařřřřřřa, and not shunnařřřřřřa? The nafke-mine is what is means if you see it in a dream.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 3:53:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Either this is a total non-sequitur, or I'm missing something.

You didn't miss much, I'm afraid.

Why do you mix pre-Ashkenazic "vas" with EA "fun" (for "fon")?

I don't. vas is Western Yiddish. (In WY and EY, MHG long ā turned ō (partly < ū), in EA also MHG short a in an open syllable, which turned ā in WY and German. The word vas is a bit more complicated; today's Northern German dialects as well as the standard have vas, whereas the South have vās (partly > vōs. For Yiddish, it behaves like a MHG short a in an open syllable.

fun, on the other hand, is not simply a regional phonetic variant of fon, but an old parallel form.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

What I really always liked was that shunre is so close to the Yiddish word for 'purr', viz. shnurren.

An argument that people brought forward for their thesis that Chad gadye was originally Yiddish, and only then translated into Aramaic, is, that is says shunro ochlo, and Yiddish katz is feminine.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 4:01:00 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

Are you sure it's shunnařřřřřřa, and not shunnařřřřřřa? The nafke-mine is what is means if you see it in a dream.
I think you meant shinnařřřřřřa (is that right spelling). I would like to have shiroth naoth composed in my honour, rather than face adversity.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 4:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

An argument that people brought forward for their thesis that Chad gadye was originally Yiddish, and only then translated into Aramaic, is, that is says shunro ochlo, and Yiddish katz is feminine.

Yeah, I've seen that in Guggenheimer's Scholar's Haggada. IIRC, he points out also that most popular Jiddisch versions of Chad Gadyo have the diminutive kätzlein, which, of course, is necessarily neuter.

In any event, what's this "ochlo" thing? Shouldn't it be "achalo", or (perhaps even "better") "achalas"?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 5:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Habib--

Yes, of course I meant shinara. (Sorry, I can't do many diacritics on this old Mac.)

Lipman--

Thanks for your info about vas, fun, and WY. And what's this about DovBear of Mezeritch? I thought we were talking about DovBear of JBlogistan.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 5:49:00 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

What I really always liked was that shunre is so close to the Yiddish word for 'purr', viz. shnurren.
In French, to purr is ronronner ; eg le chat ronron. I think it is possibly the best onomatapoeia for that particular noise.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 6:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Oh, I get it! DovBear fun Mezresh = DovBear fun Mezritsh!

(I'm sorry; I didn't get it until now.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005 9:58:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

le chat ronron. I think it is possibly the best onomatapoeia for that particular noise

Well, you did indicate your cats are aristocratic, but isn't twanging when purring a tad nouveau riche?.

But talking about onomatpoetics - among the nicest I know are haf haf for a yapping barker, and vrku (stressed on the trilled r) for a pigeon's cooroo, both Czech.

Monday, October 31, 2005 8:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Lipman,

Is your e-mail program still down? Check webmail. I just sent you a music question.

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Maybe Hhað Gaðyā was written by someone without a firm grasp of Aramaic...

Monday, October 31, 2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Maybe Hhað Gaðyā was written by someone without a firm grasp of Aramaic...

...whose native language was Jiddisch?

Monday, October 31, 2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

formal/snobbish/Scotch

Isn't "snobbish" the Litvish pronunciation for "shnabbes"? And at Kiddesch, we drink scotch on shnabbes!

Monday, October 31, 2005 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Before it's too late: No Burpin' jokes please, only purr puns.

A friend told me the other day, how a mutual acquaintance visited Dublin because his girlfriend is on some postgrad programme there. It was the first time he encountered Whiskey at a kiddesch. He says first he found it unwonted and awkward, then felt like having a second shot (reviis?).

Monday, October 31, 2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

a second shot (reviis?)

No, "revi`is" is the fourth shot.

Monday, October 31, 2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

On Pesach, many have difficulties to drink the fourth cup. Solution: Drink the fourth filling for kiddush, when you're still fresh, and leave the first (the easy one) for the end of the seider!

Monday, October 31, 2005 1:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Lipman,

You wouldn't be jauzê that way, because you must drink the four kaussauss "‘al hassssêzer".

Monday, October 31, 2005 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

But they are all drunk at the Seder. And al hazeltzer is only allowed if there's still a majority of wine in the mix.

Monday, October 31, 2005 1:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

al hazeltzer

Ha! I meant to write ‘al hassssêser, of course.

majority of wine

Isn't that a machlaukess pausskin?

Monday, October 31, 2005 1:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

I wrote:

Ha! I meant to write ‘al hassssêser, of course.

Or should that be ‘al hasssêser, representing only the first element of the first half of the geminated digraph? (This would be on the model of schellasschabboss.)

Monday, October 31, 2005 1:38:00 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Those fine details get lost somewhere between the third and the fourth kos.

Monday, October 31, 2005 2:01:00 PM  
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