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Unread 08-27-2011, 08:25 PM   #1
mosheh5769
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Sephardic pronounciation

B'H

Why do the Sephardim have different rules concerning how to pronounce the Qometz?

They generally pronounce it as a "a-voyel" instead of a "o-voyel", as if it was a patach. But there are certain words they pronounce the same way we do:

Kotlenu ("our Kotel", a word written with a Qometz, which appears in Shir HaShirim);

Kol ("all", a word written with a Qometz)

Ozreni ("help us", a word written with a Qometz)

Chofshi ("free", w word written with a Qometz, which appears in Parshas Re'eh).

This is by hearing the Parshas Re'eh being read by a Sephardi that I was asking myself that question. Are there some precise rules in Sephardic that such words with a Qometz should be pronounced "o" and this one as a patach.

By the way, I remember reading some Rabbis, among them Rav Yaakov Emden zt'l, who wrote that nobody pronounce the Qometz as better as the Ashkenazim do (the Teimanim also pronounce the Qometz the same way the Ashkenazim do).

Of course, every one should keep his pronounciation, but I was just wandering where do such "changes" come from?

(Someone told me that according to the Rebbe, the Ashkenazic pronounciation was more authentical than the Sephardic one. Is there someone with a source where the Rebbe said such thing?)
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Unread 08-28-2011, 02:18 AM   #2
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I think you are just describing the difference between the kometz koton / kometz godol. The koton has an "o" sound, the godol has an "a" sound, and Sephardim also pronounce the kometz chataf like the kometz koton. You generally use a kometz koton in a closed unaccented syllable, and a kometz godol otherwise, although there are some places where Sephardic mesorah differs from this strict grammatical rule, e.g. tzohorayim. The kometz on the tzadei is pronounced as a kometz koton by Sephardim, but the first syllable is the tzadei alone, which is not closed and thus the kometz should be a kometz godol. You can buy tikkunim and siddurim with visual distinctions between the two to make it easier, since applying the rules in your head can be difficult at times and depends on grammatical context, e.g. chokhmah vs. chakhamah.

As far as the origin of the differences are concerned, there were originally 3 systems of nikkud: Israeli, Babylonian, and Tiberian. In general, Israeli nikkud is closest to Sephardic (merged patach / kometz, tzeirei / segol), and Babylonian nikkud is closest to Yemenite (merged patach / segol), and Tiberian nikkud is a good match for Ashkenazi vowels. It gets more complicated when you get into the actual sounds for the vowels and the consonant merging.

I am sure some part of my post is terribly incorrect and the true ba'alei dikduk will correct it.
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Unread 08-28-2011, 08:31 AM   #3
Torah613
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Well, you apparantly know tons more than me...I barely followed your post
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Unread 08-28-2011, 10:27 AM   #4
mosheh5769
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B'H

Lamed, thanks for those information, and you seem very learned in that matter, eventhough I must admit that your post was too technical for me.

And concerning the origins of the pronounciations, it's not an unanimous theory that it comes from Bovel and Eretz Yisroel.

In the book, "Ashkenazim and Sephardim: Their Relations, Differences, and Problems As Reflected in the Rabbinical Responsa", that I found on google library and which is very informative on the subject (but does not answer to all the questions), it says that linguist developed three theories:

1) The Sephardic pronounciation is the original one while the Ashkenazic pronounciation developed later under the influence of environment.
2) Both pronounciations date from antiquity, being a continuation of the two different pronounciations in use in Palestine and Babylonia.
3) The Ashkenzic pronounciation originated in Palestine while the Sephardic pronounciation was produced by the Jews in Spain.

The first theory has been proven to be false, and linguists generaly favored the second one, while in reading the aformentioned book, it seems that, while it also defend the second theory, it gives clear prroofs that the nowadays Sephardic pronounciation is quite different from the old one, and that untill almost the 15th century, there were very slight differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi pronounciations and that's why Ashkenazim and Sephardim could learn in each other school without being bothered by the pronounciation (the book gives somes examples of such Rabbis), but around the 15-16th century, the Sephardic pronounciation was modified to adjust with the Arabic pronounciation.

So according to that, it seems that, eventhough the Sephardic pronounciation is as old as Eretz Yisroel, it was slightly changed with time, while in the past, it was almost identical to Ashkenazi. The book says that it may explain why before the 16th century, despite that mixing was common between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, nothing was written concerning differences in pronounciation while the Rabbis were abondantly dealinq with differences between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in their Responsa. This, according to the author of the book, is a proof that while they were many differences between both Jewish communities, there was no significant differences in pronounciation (but today it seems they are two different languiages). This, according to that book, explains why it's only from the 16th century that we have some writtings dealing with differnces in pronounciation.

Hmmmm. So, it is not so easy, unfortunately.

The aformentioned book can be read for free here.
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Unread 08-28-2011, 11:38 AM   #5
Torah613
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It would seem to me, that the fact that they were able to mix together at one time doesn't prove which one changed later. But I didn't read the book.
It would also seem to me obvious, that currrent Ashkenazi pronounciation, definitely is not the way it was once pronounced.
Is the Teimani pronounciation - closer to what is called Ashkenazi or Sefardi (Sefardi not being the mishmash currently spoken in EY, but real Sefardic)?
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Unread 08-28-2011, 11:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosheh5769 View Post
(Someone told me that according to the Rebbe, the Ashkenazic pronounciation was more authentical than the Sephardic one. Is there someone with a source where the Rebbe said such thing?)
I highly doubt it, based on the fact that the Rebbe did not encourage changing to havara A.
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Unread 08-28-2011, 12:04 PM   #7
mosheh5769
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torah613 View Post
It would also seem to me obvious, that currrent Ashkenazi pronounciation, definitely is not the way it was once pronounced.
The ayin and the tav are such examples. (Concerning the tav, Rav Emden wrote that "to our great shame, the tav sounds like the letter samech", while it was used to be prounounced like the English sound "th" as in "mouth".)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Torah613 View Post
Is the Teimani pronounciation - closer to what is called Ashkenazi or Sefardi (Sefardi not being the mishmash currently spoken in EY, but real Sefardic)?
The pronunciation of the Teimanim approximates to the Ashkenazic pronunciation, as far as the vowels are concerned, of Lithuanian Jews (inasmuch as the "cholom" is pronounced "ay").

Ashkenazi pronunciations make a clearer distinction between the vowels patach and qometz and distinguish between the aspirated and the unaspirated "tav" (eventhough it isn't prounonced anymore as it should be, according to Rav Emden zt'l). The Sephardi pronunciation, on the other hand, has the advantage of distinguishing between the various gutturals (but this distinction is made only by Jews who live in the sphere of the Arabic language where these consonants are also distinctly pronounced, as he heard it by myself this shabbes when we received guests from Tunisia and Algeria). Teimanim, who, as has been said, cling in some respects to the Ashkenazi way of pronouncing vowels, pronounce consonants even more distinctly than Sephardim inasmuch as they distinguish also between the aspirate and inaspirate of dalet, gimmel, and tav). So, it looks like a mixing of both pronounciations.

(Of course, we are not talking about the pronounciation in EY, which we all know is a fake Sephardism.)
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Unread 08-28-2011, 04:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosheh5769 View Post
B'H
And concerning the origins of the pronounciations, it's not an unanimous theory that it comes from Bovel and Eretz Yisroel.
I simply said that Sephardi pronunciation has the same merged vowels as nikkud yisroeli, and Teimani pronunciation has the same merged vowels as nikkud bavli. This is pretty clearly established, as far as I know, since there are teimani ksavim that use nikkud bavli.

Quote:
In the book, "Ashkenazim and Sephardim: Their Relations, Differences, and Problems As Reflected in the Rabbinical Responsa", that I found on google library and which is very informative on the subject (but does not answer to all the questions), it says that linguist developed three theories:

1) The Sephardic pronounciation is the original one while the Ashkenazic pronounciation developed later under the influence of environment.
2) Both pronounciations date from antiquity, being a continuation of the two different pronounciations in use in Palestine and Babylonia.
3) The Ashkenzic pronounciation originated in Palestine while the Sephardic pronounciation was produced by the Jews in Spain.
There are other theories, e.g. that the Ashkenazic pronunciation is from Galilee and the Sephardic pronunciation is from Judea.

Quote:
The first theory has been proven to be false, and linguists generaly favored the second one, while in reading the aformentioned book, it seems that, while it also defend the second theory, it gives clear prroofs that the nowadays Sephardic pronounciation is quite different from the old one, and that untill almost the 15th century, there were very slight differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi pronounciations and that's why Ashkenazim and Sephardim could learn in each other school without being bothered by the pronounciation (the book gives somes examples of such Rabbis), but around the 15-16th century, the Sephardic pronounciation was modified to adjust with the Arabic pronounciation.
Where does he say that the Sephardic pronunciation was modified to match Arabic? Maybe I just read the wrong part of the book. He says that the evidence from Ashkenaz in the middle ages is that they did not distinguish between kometz and patach, e.g. vowelized texts merged them and transliterations into other languages did not have the kometz sound. However, it is not clear to me why ashkenazim would suddenly decide to unmerge the kometz and patach. Apparently the same is also true regarding the tzeirei and segol; they were originally merged in Ashkenaz but ended up becoming unmerged.
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Unread 08-29-2011, 09:10 AM   #9
mosheh5769
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B'H

Thank you Lamed for all those information.
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