Keys of comparison


Keys of comparison and development of roots

  • Is Hebrew built on roots of three consonants ?
    If we want to compare Hebrew with Indo-European languages, it seems useful to elaborate more on the way Hebrew roots have developed. There is since old times a strong conviction that Hebrew roots basically consist of three consonants. Some people are convinced that God made the language that way.


    As already stated, in reality three consonant roots in Hebrew at least frequently have developed out of shorter ones. If we indicate the possible three different consonants as C1, C2, C3, we find a great variation of developments. A number of important ones is cited hereunder.


  • GROUP 1
    • C1 C2 > C1 C2 C2
    • C1 C2 > C1 C2 C3
    • C1 C2 > C1 C2 C1 C2


  • GROUP 2
    • C1 W C2 > C1 C2


    In this example we see the symbol " W ", that stands for a central element of the root, but indeed is heard as a vowel " O " or " U ", seen very frequently in older roots. This means that the development from C1 W C2 > C1 C2 is in reality a change of vowel, from "C1 O C2" or "C1 U C2" into "C1 A C2" or "C1 E C2".


  • GROUP 3
    There are developments in which a consonantal prefix is used. Important is the " N ".
    • C1 C2 > N C1 C2


  • GROUP 4
    Other important prefixes are Aleph and Ayin.
    • C1 C2 > Aleph C1 C2
    • C1 C2 > Ayin C1 C2
    • Aleph C1 C2 > Ayin C1 C2


  • GROUP 5
    In some developments we see a role of the "W" (Waw) and the "Y" (Yod). The first has already been mentioned above in Group 2 . The two letters can be so-called "mater lectionis", but they have been chosen by ancient scholars as such on basis of the reality of the Hebrew language, in which the consonant " W " and the vowels "O, U" can interchange, as is the case with the consonant " Y " and the vowel " I ".


    Both " W " and " Y " can be found as prefixes. And in a frequent development a prefix or initial " W " can become a " Y ".
    • C1 C2 > W C1 C2
    • C1 C2 > Y C1 C2



Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: Tuesday 9 April 2013 at 17.12.50