Talk:הוא

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Hebrew verb sense.​—msh210 23:15, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Does Job 37:6 count? The Even-Shoshan Dictionary lists הֱוֵא (hevéi) as an imperative from הָוָה (havá, to be), with the same meaning as the actual imperative of הָוָה, and gives Job 37:6 as the only citation. According to Wikipedia, modern secular scholarship puts authorship of Job at somewhat after the first exile, by which point I imagine Hebrew had received silent final em kria aleph from Aramaic, so it could have had the same pronunciation as well, so maybe we're just talking about an alternative spelling. (I can't think of too many examples of final tzeirei-hei in Hebrew — can you? — whereas in Aramaic tzeirei-hei-mappiq -éh is a very common ending and tzeirei-alef is an existent one, so to me this seems like a logical way to respell it — as does הֱוֵי, which also exists, e.g. in Pirkei Avot, but which the Even-Shoshan Dictionary does consider to be just an alternative imperative of הָוָה, rather than a separate word from such.) Given all that, Strong's could perhaps be excused for inferring an actual *הָוָא. If we do count Job 37:6 as a citation for *הָוָא, then this automatically passes under the "well-known work" ConFI, but a usage note is almost certainly warranted. Even if we don't, we'd need an entry here for Job's הֱוֵא, so all we need is to rewrite some and add a usage note. —RuakhTALK 04:13, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Normally I'd take a scholar's word for it, but הָוָא?? Does ibn Ezra or Kimchi say anything? (If I remember to, I'll check it out.)​—msh210 18:13, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

RFV failed, entry for הָוָא (havá) replaced with entry for הֱוֵא (hevé). I've added the Job quote. —RuakhTALK 18:01, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

הִוא ()[edit]

The way the usage note is written, it implies that the pronunciation was once hu. Do we know this? Or could it be that it was always pronounced hi but written הוא? --WikiTiki89 (talk) 16:16, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

I don't think the usage note implies that — at least, I certainly didn't intend to — but the Masoretes certainly recognized that there was a discrepancy between the received consonantal text and what they believed to be the correct pronunciation. (Since is a qere perpetuum, it's not the most obvious example for the uninitiated; but for plenty of examples where the Masoretic Text is quite explicit about such discrepancies, providing the inherited text and the emended pronunciation separately, see google:"כ * ק" site:wlc.hebrewtanakh.com.) —RuakhTALK 17:29, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
It's the first sentence that I think sort of implies that:
The received text of the Bible (the Masoretic Text) has many instances where הוא is written, but the context indicates that the feminine counterpart הִיא () is needed.
It sort of sounds like you're saying that it is pronounced hi only because of the context. We don't know whether that is the case. I would have said that the word is היא but spelled differently for unknown, possibly etymological or grammatical reasons. --WikiTiki89 (talk) 17:55, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Hmm. How about changing the first sentence to “The received text of the Bible (the Masoretic Text) has many instances where the normally-masculine spelling הוא is used in a context where a feminine form is expected”? And expanding the first mention of הִיא into “the usual feminine הִיא (, she, it)”? Would that solve the problem? —RuakhTALK 18:13, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I made a few changes (diff), what do you think? --WikiTiki89 (talk) 21:30, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't quite agree with that; the Masoretic view is not quite that הוא is pronounced /hi/, but rather, it's that we write one word and read another. I mean, I guess the usage-note kind of implied otherwise even before your change, but now it's pretty explicit about it. :-/   —RuakhTALK 22:09, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
But do we know that that's what the Masoretes' view was? I think it would be better if we don't assume either way since we can't know for sure. Analyzing what the Masorete's may have thought is more Wikipedia material. --WikiTiki89 (talk) 20:54, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm certainly no expert on this stuff, but — yes, I believe we do know that this was the view of the Masoretes. —RuakhTALK 22:18, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
Can you find some references? --WikiTiki89 (talk) 06:04, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
For the general concept of qere and ketiv, just Google those terms. I think it's impossible to be aware of the idea, and of various instances of the idea, without accepting that this was the Masoretic view in general. So I assume that all I need to provide are references that refer to הִוא as an instance of qere and ketiv? Here are two such: one · two. —RuakhTALK 15:33, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
You seem to know more about this than me. But just to clarify, the way I see it is there are three possibilities:
  1. The spelling הוא originated as a spelling error and was intended to be היא.
  2. The spelling הוא was the original intended spelling despite the pronunciation always having been /hi/.
  3. The spelling הוא was the original intended spelling and was originally pronounced /hu/ but someone (either the Masoretes or someone before them) changed the pronunciation to /hi/.
The way I understand it is you are claiming that we know option 3 is the case. Do I understand correctly? (And if so, as an unrelated side question, do we have any idea why הוא was used instead of היא?) --WikiTiki89 (talk) 19:58, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
All three of those possibilities seem possible to me — if not all equally probable — and I'm not claiming that any one of them is correct. (If I had to guess, my guess would be that there was a dialectal difference within Biblical Hebrew, and the dialect whose spellings we use is not the dialect whose pronunciations we use. I know that sounds strange, but a similar sort of thing is why English colonel is pronounced like kernel.) In particular, I am not advocating view #3. I'm just saying that the Masoretes recognized a discrepancy between the word that they wrote, הוא, and the word that they read, /hi/. The Masoretic view was that they were actually reading something different from what was written. It was not their view that there existed some single word that was spelled הוא and pronounced /hi/; it was not their view that the word הוא was sometimes pronounced /hu/ and sometimes /hi/; and it was not their view that the word /hi/ was sometimes spelled הוא and sometimes spelled היא. If they had believed any of those three things to be the case, then they would have felt that they were reading the same word as was written. But they didn't. Instead, they believed that one word (הוא, normally pronounced /hu/) was written, and a different word (/hi/, normally spelled היא) was read. Do you see what I'm saying? —RuakhTALK 20:24, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
(BTW, dialect differences are also my guess at why the second-person masculine singular pronominal suffix is just a kaf-sofit, but is pronounced /χa/. Origen's Hexapla shows that it was actually pronounced as just a final consonant (no vowel); except that the Dead Sea Scrolls show that it was actually spelled kaf-hei. So I imagine that Origen's Hexapla and our spellings are both based on dialects where the ending was just a final consonant, spelled kaf-sofit, whereas the Dead Sea Scrolls and our pronunciations are both based on dialects where the ending was a consonant plus a vowel, spelled kaf-hei.) —RuakhTALK 20:31, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Ok, thanks for clarifying! I made another change to the usage note, what do you think of it now? Also, can you refer me to where I can read more about all this dialectal stuff? --WikiTiki89 (talk) 20:39, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Re: usage note: I've made a further change, let me know if you dislike it.   Re: dialects: These specific guesses ({Hebr|הוא|lang=he}} for /hi/, ־ך for /-χa/) are my own, so I can't point you to sources. (I mean, they're very natural guesses, and I would be shocked if I'm the first person to think of them, but I've never read any explicit discussion for or against them.) And I'm really not an expert on this stuff. But if you'd like your appetite whetted further on the general subject of Biblical Hebrew dialectology, check out w:Biblical Hebrew#Dialects and (for one example) w:Israelian Hebrew. And have I already recommended Joel Hoffman's In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language to you? —RuakhTALK 20:58, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Yeah I'm ok with the current usage note. And thanks for the reading suggestions. --WikiTiki89 (talk) 05:45, 27 August 2012 (UTC)