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Philippi's law

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Title: Philippi's law  
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Subject: Hebrew language, Samaritan vocalization, Ktiv menuqad, Hebrew numerals, Academy of the Hebrew Language
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Philippi's law

Philippi's law refers to a sound rule in Biblical Hebrew first identified by F.W.M. Philippi in 1878, but has since been refined by Thomas O. Lambdin.[1][2]

Essentially, in Biblical Hebrew, sometimes the sound for i shifted to a, but the reason for this development was unclear or debated.[3] It is "universally supposed to be operative", according linguists in the field, but criticized as "Philippi's law falls woefully short of what one would expect of a 'law' in historical phonology...."[4]

Some critics suggested that it might not even be a rule in Hebrew, but rather a sound rule in Aramaic.[5] Even Philippi, who mentions it in an article about the numeral '2' in Semitic, proposed that "the rule was Proto-Semitic" in origin.[6] Philippi's law is also used to explain the vowel shift for the Hebrew word for daughter and many other words.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Philippi, F. W. M. (1878). "Das Zahlwort Zwei Semitischen". Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 32: 21–98. 
  2. ^ Morschauser, Scott; Thomas O. Lambdin (1985). "Philippi's Law Reconsidered". In Ann Kort (ed.). Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel Iwry. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. pp. 135–145.  
  3. ^ Blake, Frank R. (1950). "The Apparent Interchange between a and i in Hebrew". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 9: 76 et seq.  
  4. ^ Morschauser, Scott; Thomas O. Lambdin (1985). "Philippi's Law Reconsidered". In Ann Kort (ed.). Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel Iwry. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. p. 136.  
  5. ^ Huernergard, John (1992). Walter Ray Bodine (ed.), ed. Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew. Eisenbrauns. pp. 212–216.   (citing several sources in footnotes 19-27).
  6. ^ Huehnergard, John. "Philippi’s Law." Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics. Edited by: Geoffrey Khan. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. URL. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  7. ^ Paul Joüon (Translated by T. Muraoka). A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew: Subsidia Biblica. Gregorian Biblical BookShop, 2006. ISBN 9788876536298. Pages 88, 90, 117, 138, 147, 223, 279, 293 (n. 1).
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