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Do you hear /b/ or /v/ ?
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In Hebrew the letter /bet/ either has a "dagesh" (dot) in it's center like this בּ , or it does not, like this ב. European Jews have traditionally pronounced bet with dagesh ( בּ) with the "hard" sound, or "b" sound /bet/. So for example בֵּית for house (as in Bethlehem, בֵּית לֶחֶם ). The bet without dagesh on the other hand, when it occurs in a word, is pronounced by European Jews with the "soft" sound, or "v" sound.
Jews who have been living in Arabic speaking countries for centuries however do not distinguish between how they pronounce /bet/ with or without dagesh. In other words, it is always pronounced with a "hard" sound or a "b" sound by them. These Jews do not seem to have the "v" sound in their vocabulary.
Which brings me to the "hearing test" of sorts for those reading this post and wishing to participate. This test is geared for everyone. In fact those who don't even read Hebrew may have an advantage, IMHO . Following is an audio clip of all of the Biblical Hebrew words (slowed down ) with /b/ without dagesh in them, as spoken by a Yemeni Jew from his reading of Psalm 114 :
(Time in ss:ms)
14:1: יַ֝עֲקֹ֗ב at time 00:00 (Yagerb)
14:3:יִסֹּ֥ב at time 06:65 (Yiserb)
14:4:גְּ֝בָע֗וֹת at time 12:06 (Jerboert)
14:4: כִּבְנֵי־ at time 17:47 (Kibernay)
14:5: תִּסֹּ֥ב at time 22:96 (Tiserb)
14:6: גְּ֝בָע֗וֹת at time 26:88 (Jerboert)
14:6: כִּבְנֵי־ at time 32:11(Kibernay)
14:7: יַ֝עֲקֹ֗ב at time 35:92(Yagerb)
It is clear to me that all of the /bet/ sounds made by the Yemeni above are with a /b/ sound and NOT / NEVER with a /v/ sound. This was clear to me even before the audio slow down. Yet there is someone who I am having a discussion with who insists that he is hearing the /v/ sound for the letter bet in above Yemeni reader. So I would like readers to give their opinion as to whether they are hearing the "b" sound or a "v" sound in above. If all of above is too much, just focus your attention on the word גְּ֝בָע֗וֹת (Jerboert) at 12:06 and 26:88. Here the bet in the middle of the word is easiest to hear. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion ofcourse.
Here's the Psalm 114 reading in the Yemeni tradition , by the way.
The slowed-down utterances are so mutilated that it's not possible to make a decent judgment of pronunciation. If you can post the unmodified words, maybe. The music will be a major distraction – if you can find a speaker who can just read the text, that would be preferable.
--- Quote from: panini on February 10, 2019, 01:54:47 PM ---The slowed-down utterances are so mutilated that it's not possible to make a decent judgment of pronunciation. If you can post the unmodified words, maybe. The music will be a major distraction – if you can find a speaker who can just read the text, that would be preferable.
--- End quote ---
Here’s the word גְּ֝בָע֗וֹת (hills) not slowed down:
Do you hear “JeBor...” or “JeVor..” ?
Here’s the word עַבְדֵ֣י (servant) at normal speed:
Do you hear “ABeday” or “AVeday” ?
Here’s the word כבני־/ צאן (like Sheep) at normal speed:
“KeBernay” or “KeVernay”?
I hear [ʕavɪðɛ:] and [jɛvɔ:r] ("v" could be [β]); the file "kevinair" is too far from norms, and nothing sounds like [ v ] or [ b ] (check that you don't have the wrong word). Normally, when you look at the spectrogram, there would be a very rapid and "straight-line" reduction in amplitude for a voiced stop segment, which is lacking here. However, that's based on ordinary speech under clean recording conditions. Still, my eyes and ears say "v" not "b". IMO the evidence is not conclusive, and this is a classic case where you you can't say for sure. Even though it is either [ v ] or [ b ] (Aristotle's first law), you don't have sufficient reason to claim which one it is.
Incidentally, the Wiki article on Yemeni Hebrew indicates that bet with and without dagesh is neutralized in some dialect, naming Sharab.
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