Wednesday, November 16, 2005


This has been pointed out periodically by others "in the know", but let me just cross-post to Mis-Dakdek an educational kvetš about the word אלוה.

is pronounced
and not

The letter ה with a mapiq dot in the middle and a patahh underneath at the end of a word works exactly the same as a ח or ע at the end of a word with a patahh underneath.

So just like ״נֹחַ״ is pronounced NÓAHH
and ״שָׂמֵחַ״ is pronounced SAMÉIAHH,
״לִשְׁמוֹעַ״ is pronounced LISHMÓA‘

(not LISHMO‘Á)
and ״גָּבוֹהַּ״ is pronounced GAVÓAH
(and ״גְּבוֹהָה״ is GEVOHÁ in comparison)

Therefore, be aware:
when you say "ELOHÁ",
you are not saying ״אֱלוֹהַּ״ —
you are actually saying ״אֱלוֹהָה״!
(assuming you're using a dialect that doesn't distinguish patahh and qomatz)

Now, addressing the Creator of Worlds as "Goddess" instead of "God" may be fine if you're an iber-feminist or a Shekhina-worshipper, but I'm pretty sure that most people doing so don't actually know what they're doing. So be careful with pronunciation so that you don't accidentally make a theological statement you're not willing to stand behind.


Blogger Shifra said...

Aloha! (hehe)

I liked this post but it reminded me of one of those child saftey warnings you see at the pediatrician's office.

And I can't read the tiny bits at all (is it just me?)

11/17/2005 9:08 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Don't worry, Shifra, the Masoretes couldn't read it either.

Main sub-textual point seems to be that speech has consequence - the world, after all, was created with a word.

11/17/2005 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

Steg, do you think the quf-form should be eloak or just elok? On the one hand, the /a/ appears to be there only because of the /h/ (and how would you even write out eloak?), but on the other hand, today most people probably don't realize that and to leave out the /a/ makes the word hardly recognizable.

11/21/2005 1:04 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I think ideally it should be Eloq, but i also like the idea of Elóaq since it sounds so weird, it's more obviously a taboo deformation.

11/21/2005 2:05 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

That's what I meant here.

11/21/2005 5:19 PM  
Blogger Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

Being an iber-feminist (I think, not sure what 'iber' means), I am OK referring to Herself in the feminine, but it is good to know what you're saying.

To offer a cross-cultural comparison, the story goes that in the early Middle Ages in Western Europe the quality of the clergy's Latin deteriorated until they were (inadvertantly) invoking the Father, the Daughter and the Holy Spirit (in nomine patris et filiae...)

11/28/2005 12:41 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Being an iber-feminist (I think, not sure what 'iber' means), I am OK referring to Herself in the feminine

Herself: feminine (treife)
Himself: a) masculine (treife), b) non-specified (kosher)

Not discussing the capital h.

Men are discriminated against by many languages in that there's no unambiguous form referring to males, but unfortunately, the stupid among the feminists (of both sexes) have understood this wrongly and love to think if you say actors, for instance, you exclude actresses because you think they're inferior, while in fact, if you'd want to exclude actresses, you'd have to circumscribe this through male actors.


Yiddishised version of →ueber-, über-, uber- (Am.)

ueber-, über-, uber- (Am.)
I. originally, see Übermensch (superman, overman)
II. Am., net jargon, implying a reproach of someone thinking himself a better representative of something, often cheaply implying a Nazi mentality, as a rule used by people with minority complexes, ex.: You probably think you're better because you don't eat pork, you uber-Jew?!
III. vulgarised, in a very strong way, decidedly, ex.: uber-feminist

11/28/2005 8:25 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I think that "Himself" is also treife, or should be — the problem is that in English the only other options are "Itself" which sounds insulting and inanimate, or "Themself" which can easily be confused with plural "Themselves" (and is even more confusable in other forms of the 'singular they').

English grammatical gender is almost exclusively linked to biological sex. This is how it differs from other languages, including Hebrew, which actuallly have a gender system that transcends sex (masculine tables, feminine actions...). In such a gendered language, like Hebrew, with no gender-neutral option the automatic tendency is to use the 'default', in Hebrew the masculine. In other languages it might to the feminine, but i don't know of any examples.

English, however, doesn't work this way, and is a case of difference between English and other languages' — French, for example — 's feminists. English-speaking feminists prefer to degenderize the language by embracing gender-neutral terms like actor, firefighter, and themself (instead of actor/actress, fireman/firewoman, and him [her assumed]), while French feminists prefer, since their lanugage is so gendered anyway, to make the gender explicit by insisting on equal use of both male/masculine and female/feminine forms of words.

11/28/2005 10:41 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

I think that "Himself" is also treife

You're right, as the use of masculine forms for gender-neutral concepts doesn't go so far as to include personal pronouns. Themself sounds very silly, and couldn't be used for non-reflexive forms, an in fact, it(self) seem correct.

"Itself" which sounds insulting and inanimate

Would you say calling God animate is too much of a humanisation? If this is only on a kivyochel level, the use of it(self) shouldn't be insulting.

The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that in a language like English, that doesn't know grammatical gender in principle, but has both a neutral pronoun and pronouns for the sexes (leave alone ships and countries), one should in fact use the neutral when referring to God.

In such a gendered language, like Hebrew, with no gender-neutral option the automatic tendency is to use the 'default', in Hebrew the masculine. In other languages it might to the feminine, but i don't know of any examples.

That's not how I learned ling. Hebraicam in grammar school :-) . See here (PDF!), in particular § 122 h and p.

11/29/2005 6:43 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...


Thanks for scanning in the PDF from Gesenius.

You really did us a tôvo (sic).

11/29/2005 9:31 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...


There is a manuscript of Machzor AFa"M in which Eloah is spelled thus:


11/29/2005 9:36 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

That wasn't me, but some "Conservative" "Jews" who don't feel ashamed putting a goyishe (gasp!) grammar (gagagasp!!) on the web (faint).

11/30/2005 3:57 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Wow, that's so cool! A Conservative Jewish congregation in Ottowa putting up Gesenius on the internet! Who woulda thunk it?

(Maybe Conservative leyning will get better, now...)

By the way, I hope you recognized the appropriateness of my use of the word tôvo above.

11/30/2005 10:07 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

I did.

Maybe the tech guy thought it was Genesis? (Would make an awkward leyning.)

12/01/2005 10:29 AM  

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