single letters / double letters

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single letters / double letters

Postby Herr Sorath » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:08 am

93,

why are the Hebrew double letters and single letters referred to as such? what is "double" or "single" about them?

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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu Jun 30, 2005 12:24 pm

Each has two sounds - a hard and a soft sound.

Shin also has two sounds, but is excluded because it is "previously" identified as a Mother Letter.

From this linguistic duality, other symbolic dualities have been analogized. For example, each of them is attributed to a pair of opposed traits in Sepher Yetzirah.
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:20 pm

{The root doctrine on this topic from the oldest known source: From Sepher Yetzirah, Cap. 4, "The Seven Double Letters"
Translated by James A. Eshelman, Copyright College of Thelema, All Rights Reserved}

1. Seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. They [each] give two expressions: B b, G g, D d, K k, P p, R r, T t. A form soft and hard, strong and weak.

2. Seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. Their foundation is Life (ChYYM), Peace (ShLVM), Wisdom (ChKMH), Wealth (OVShR), Grace (ChN), Seed (ZRO), and Dominion (MMShLH).

3. Seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav, in speech and in transposition. The opposite of Life is Death (MVTh). The opposite of Peace is War (MLChMH). The opposite of Wisdom is Folly (AVLTh). The opposite of Wealth is Poverty (OVNY). The opposite of Grace is Ugliness (KYOVR). The opposite of Seed is Sterility (ShMMH). The opposite of Dominion is Slavery (OBDVTh).
NOTE: Literally, ZRO, means not only “seed” or “semen,” but also “the growing season.” In contrast, ShMMH means “desolation, the desert,” i.e. the parched, infertile product of the Sun in its extreme. “Sterility” is a figurative and contextual translation of ShMMH.
NOTE: According to the attributions received and employed by the Temple of Thelema, to Beth is attributed Life & Death; to Gimel, Peace & War; to Daleth, Wisdom & Folly; to Kaph, Riches & Poverty; to Peh, Grace & Indignation; to Resh, Fertility & Sterility; and to Tav, Power & Slavery. These represent the exact order of the “foundation” attributions of v. 2 in most editions of the Sepher Yetzirah, particularly the Short Version. The Long Version gives exactly the same sequence except for the (perhaps inadvertent) transposition of “Seed” and “Grace.” For comparison, the Gra version gives the order: Wisdom, Wealth, Seed, Life, Dominion, Peace, and Grace. The Saadia Version does not give these attributions at all.


4. Seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. Above and Below, East and West, North and South, and the Palace of Holiness (HYKL HQVDSh) in the center and supporting all things.
NOTE: All major versions of the Sepher Yetzirah which give these directional attributions give them in exactly the same sequence. This includes both the Short and Gra Versions.

5. Seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. Seven and not six, seven and not eight. Examine with them, enquire with them, and make a thing stand on its own essence; and [thereby] restore the Creator to His foundation.

6. Seven Double Foundation Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. He engraved them, carved them out, refined them, weighed them, and transformed them; and with them He formed seven planets in the universe, seven days in the year, [and] seven gates into the soul, male and female.

7. Seven planets in the universe: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun , Venus, Mercury, Moon. Seven days in the year: the seven days of the week. Seven gates into the soul, male and female: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.

[...]

15. Seven Double Letters: Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Peh, Resh, Tav. By them were engraved seven worlds, seven heavens, seven earths, seven seas, seven rivers, seven desert wildernesses, seven days, seven weeks, seven years, seven sabbaticals, seven jubilees, and the Holy Temple. Therefore, let sevens be beloved under all the heavens.

16. Two stones can build two houses; three stones can build six houses; four stones can build 24 houses; five stones can build 120 houses; six stones can build 720 houses; seven stones can build 5,040 houses. And beyond this, go on and calculate what the mouth cannot speak and the ear cannot hear.
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Postby Herr Sorath » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:30 pm

Marc Free wrote:The different sounds are denoted in written Hebrew by the placement of a dot called a dagesh in the middle of the letter.


So is Resh the exception to this rule? Or are there two sounds for Resh also?

Thnx for your S.Y. translation Jim! That is beautiful. Especially the "7 gates to the soul"... I have not heard that before....
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Postby DELETED » Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:06 am

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Postby Jim Eshelman » Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:33 am

No, Resh isn't an exception. Yes, there are two sounds.

The problem is, the second sound has been lost and there is only speculation on what it once was.

From a short paper I once wrote on the subject:

Despite the inclusion of Resh among the Double Letters, no double sound has survived, and none can be readily discerned by Hebrew grammarians. Modern Hebrew does not even recognize the distinction of two forms for the letter. None-theless, ten different words, appearing in 14 dif-ferent places in the Old Testament, are written with a hard Resh, i.e., the letter Resh written with a Dagesh. It is likely that the presently accepted sound (same as the English r) is the original soft sound, and that a very rare hard sound has been lost, possibly identical to the Greek [Rho with a hard breath mark] (usually translated rh as in the letter-name Rho).
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Postby DELETED » Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:45 am

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Postby Jim Eshelman » Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:12 am

"Rolling" and "guttural" don't go together. Do you mean "growling"? Rolling (i.e., trilling) of an R is a dental or palatal sound.

But, alas, I think we have only theories here. I can't find a single acknowledged expert in ancient Hebrew linguistics who even pretends we know for sure.

However, as long as we're guessing -

The soft Beth and Peh remains labial but is are less plosive. The soft Gimel moves forward in the mouth from guttural to palatal. The soft Daleth (at least in some dialects) also moves forward in the mouth, from palatal to dental. The soft Tav varies significantly with dialect but remains dental, not too different from the migration in Daleth except in Askenazi where it becomes sibilant. Only the soft Kaph retreats, backing down the throat, becoming more guttural.

Nearly all of these are best represented in English by adding an h after the letter. It works exactly with Kaph, Peh, and Tav, is sufficiently representative for Beth and Daleth, and (though weird) it isn't grossly misleading with Gimel (which is usually more simply rendered as the English J).

Rh at least, therefore, becomes a worthy diacritical code. Trilling (in contrast to growling) is attractive with Resh for the one reason that it moves the sound forward in the mouth. But the few Hebrew authorities I've read who have addressed the matter most squarely say that there is no evidence that ancient Hebrew had any trilled R.

Aryeh Kaplan had an interesting brief discussion of this:

According to the Sefer Yetzirah (2:3), Resh is in the group of Dentals, ZSShRTz. Along with the letters Zayin, Samekh, Shin, and Tzadi, it is pronounced with the teeth. According to the Long Version (2:1), it is sounded "between the teeth, with the tongue lying down, spread out." We cannot say that it is a rolled r sound, since this involves the tip of the tongue. It would then be closest to the l sound, and should be included among the Linguals, DTLNTh. Furthermore, the hard Resh should be a plosive, like all the other hard doubles.

There is no r sound in use today that meets all these criteria. Furthermore, there is no plosive sound pronounced with the teeth that could be a candidate for a hard Resh. The original pronunciation of this letter therefore remains a mystery.

His mention of the L sound of an R may be confusing to people who only speak one language. You trip across it in other languages, though. In fact, ancient Egyptian language books from as recently as 50 years ago represent one hieroglyph as alternately L or R. I remember my first couple of weeks in French class my freshman year of high school when it was hard for me to differentiate a French R from a close-cousin of the English CL - a name like Robert Robet (I just made that up) sounded to me, at first, like Clo-bear Clo-bay. (My ear improved. :roll: ) An R that isn't wholly in the back of the mouth can easily take on this characteristic.
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Postby Herr Sorath » Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:31 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:No, Resh isn't an exception. Yes, there are two sounds.
The problem is, the second sound has been lost and there is only speculation on what it once was.

...well that explains why I thought there was only one Resh sound...plus I have never seen a Resh with the dagesh dot...

Jim Eshelman wrote:His mention of the L sound of an R may be confusing to people who only speak one language. You trip across it in other languages, though.

I belive Asian languages are a good example for this....
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