Towards Better Davening and Torah Reading
Column #23. The contents of this weekly column are based on the sefer: EIM LAMIKRA HASHALEIM, by R' Nissan Sharoni, Ashdod, a guide to correct pronunciation of Hebrew, specifically in davening and Torah reading.
Clarification of terms - based on a letter received concerning last week's column...
These might not be strict distinctions made in the dictionary, but they are valid for this column.
Syllables are either accented or unaccented. Sometimes they can be lightly accented.
Letters (of the consonant variety) are emphasized, or not. DAGESH CHAZAK results in a letter being emphasized, even if it is not part of the accented syllable of the word.
Vowels are sometimes stressed or under-stressed depending upon the situation. A METEG might result in the stressing of a vowel; a CHATAF of the three types results in under-stressing the vowel.
Something like that. Terms are subject to change. Whatever works.
Okay. This week, let's take a look at the KAMATZ, that T-shaped vowel that has two different types, and several different ways that different people pronounce them... differently. Traditionally, the KAMATZ GADOL and the KAMATZ KATAN are printed identically, even when they are pronounced differently. Siddur Rinat Yisra'el was (perhaps) the first to distinguish between them in print, with some recent siddurim following suit. If you use Rinat Yisrael, you will be struck by the irony of the KAMATZ GADOL being small and the KAMATZ KATAN being large. Aside from that, the siddur is very helpful to those who do not know (or remember) all the rules of the two KAMATZes.
Ashkenazic pronunciation does not distinguish between the two KAMATZes - both as the aw in raw; nonetheless, it is helpful in other aspects of pronunciation, to know the difference between the two.
S'faradit pronunciation does pronounce them differently, but the KAMATZ GADOL sounds identical to a PATACH, which it isn't. Yemenite pronunciation is different still, as you can find in different (there's that word again!) EIDOT among S'fardim. The typical S'fardi KAMATZ KATAN is closer to a CHOLAM (o as in hotel).
For simplicity, let's stick to the AW-AW of Ashkenazim and the A-AW of S'fardim, recognizing that there are other flavors to the sounds of these vowel-types. Actually, for the next few paragraphs, let's ignore the issue of how to pronounce each kind of KAMATZ, and let's just see where each type appears.
CHATAF KAMATZ is a KAMATZ KATAN. Par'o dreamed of seven ears of grain growing on a single stalk. SHIB(O)LIM. The (O) stands for a CHATAF KAMATZ, which is pronounced somewhat between SHIBawLIM and SHIBoLIM. But not SHIBaLIM.
If a letter with a KAMATZ is followed by a letter with a SHVA, and the letter with the KAMATZ has neither a METEG (little vertical line to the left of the vowel) nor a TROP note, then the KAMATZ is KATAN and the SHVA is NACH, and the two letters make up a syllable of the word. Sh'ma is to be said at night (and in the morning) UV-SH#CH-B'CHA. The SHIN is voweled with a KAMATZ. It (they) are follwed by CHAF-SHVA. The KAMATZ is KATAN, the SH'VA is NACH, and SH#CH is a syllable. (In Ashenazis, we'd say B'SHawCH-B'CHaw, without hearing a difference between the two KAMATZes, but they are different. In S'fardit, the word would sound like B'SHOCH-B'CHA. The pronunciations might be different, but the first KAMATZ is KATAN and the second one is GADOL. Same with UL-#V-DO (UL-awV-DO).
Remember, though, if the TROP mark (or METEG) is on the KAMATZed letter, then the KAMATZ is GADOL and the SH'VA is NA and belongs to the following syllable. V'NA-T'NU (or V'Naw-S'NU). To be continued next week. IY"H
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