On The Prefix ‘Vav’

 

Guest post by Prof. Shlomo Karni

Shlomo Karni was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Religious Studies at University of New Mexico until his retirement in 1999. His books include Dictionary of Basic Biblical Hebrew:Hebrew-English (Jerusalem: Carta, 2002).

The prefix “ו” belongs with the group of the other prefixes, ב, כ, ל, presented here in an earlier note [1], and it follows their general rules. However, it deserves a separate exposition due to a unique property that it has, not shared with the other prefixes.

A. As the conjunction “and”, it is normally vowel-less, i.e., marked with a ‘sheva’: וְאִיש, וְהָאִיש . Exceptions to this rule are:
1). Before the letters ב, ו, מ, פ it is voweled with a ‘shuruk’:
וּבָשָׂר, וּוַשְׁתִּי, וּמֹשֶה, וּפַרְעֹה
2). Before a word that starts with a ‘sheva’, it is also voweled with a ‘shuruk’, since two ‘shevas’ cannot appear at the beginning of a word: וּשְמוּאֵל, וּלְעוֹלָם
3). Before a ‘yod’ with a ‘sheva’, it is voweled with a ‘chiriq’ and the ‘sheva’ disappears:
יְהוּדָה ~ וִיהוּדָה
4). Before a ‘sheva’- dominated ‘chataf’, it takes on the corresponding vowel of the ‘chataf’:
וַאֲנִי, וָאֳנִיָּה, וֶאֱמֶת
Notes: (a) with יְהוָֹה (read: אֲדֹנָי ) it is וַיהוָֹה (read: וַאדֹנָי )
(b) with אֱלֹהִים it is וֵאלֹהיִם
5). Before a stressed syllable, and in paired words, it is voweled with a ‘kamatz’:
יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה, קַיִץ וָחֹרֶף, בָּשָׂר- וָדָם

P.S.: In Israeli street Hebrew, this ‘vav’ is always pronounced with a ‘segol’, וֶ, no exceptions. This is also true for the “easy listening” channels of radio and TV.

B. A unique usage of the ‘vav’ occurs in Biblical literature: Prefixed to a verb in the past tense, it converts the verb into the future, and vice versa: Before a verb in the future tense, it converts it into the past.

This ‘vav’ is called in Hebrew וָו – הַהִפּוּךְ literally, ‘the inversion vav’. In English, it is known as ‘vav consecutive’, or ‘the vav marking the past/future’ (the latter name is by the Academy of The Hebrew Language in Jerusalem).

It should be emphasized that it is not the conjunction “and”; it is merely a marker for a change of tenses. Examples:
וַיֹאמֶר מֹשֶה = Moses said
וְשָמְרוּ בְּנֵי יִשְרָאֵל = the children of Israel will keep

The voweling of this ‘vav’ from the past tense to the future follows the same rules as the conjunctive ‘vav’ (part “A” above), including the exceptions [2]. Examples:
וְשָמְרו , the normal vowel-less ‘vav’.
וּבָאתָ אל הַתֵּיבָה , exception A 1) above.
וּרְדַפְתֶּם אֶת – אֹיְבֵיכֶם , exception A 2) above.
וִישַבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח , exception A 3) above.
וַאֲמַרְתֶּם כֹּה לֶחָי , exception A 4) above.
מְלָכִים יִרְאוּ וָקָמוּ , exception A 5) above.

The voweling of this ‘vav’ from the future tense to the past is normally with a ‘patach’, followed by a ‘strong dagesh’ in the next letter, e.g.,
וַיַּרְא , וַתֵּשֵב, וַנֵּלֵךְ . There are two exceptions:
1). Before an ‘aleph’ of the future tense, which cannot accept a ‘dagesh’, the ‘vav’ is voweled with a ‘kamatz’: וָאֶשְלַח , וָאֲדַבֵּר
2). Before a ‘yod’ with a ‘sheva’, the ‘vav’ retains its ‘patach’ but the ‘yod’ does not get a ‘dagesh’: וַיְהִי, וַיְדַבֵּר

Although this ‘vav’ does not mean “and”, a good translation, using judicious literary license, may introduce the conjunction “and” on occasion, in order to maintain the smooth flow of the text.
Examples: (italics added for clarity)

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי אוֹר.וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאוֹר כִּי-טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים
בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶךְ. וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם…
= God said, ‘let there be light’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day…

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי -בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד = There was evening and there was morning, one day. (A similar conjunction is implicit in the Hebrew text.)

וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְתְּ וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ וַיִּבֶז עֵשָו… = Esau ate, drank, rose, went his way, and spurned…

It is unfortunate that, in such instances, a respected translation like the Hertz/Soncino Press [3] introduces “and” practically every time there is a ‘vav consecutive’. The previous examples read there,
“And God said ‘let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day…”
“And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
“and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way, and spurned…”
Such a rendition is choppy and does not convey the fluid, majestic continuity of the Hebrew text.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the literary style of Biblical Hebrew, complete with the ‘vav consecutive’, is found also in secular writings. Notable among those is the first modern romance novel in Hebrew, “אַהֲבַת צִיוֹן “, by Avraham Mapu (1880-1867), an author of the ‘Haskalah’ (Enlightenment) movement.

Shmuel Yoseph (“Shy”) Agnon (1888-1970), a Nobel Prize laureate (1966), also used this style in some of his works.


[1]. “On the Prefixes ב, כ, ל “. May 2, 2012.
[2]. אַבְרָהָם אֶבֶן-שוֹשָן, “הַמִּלוֹן הֶחָדָש”. יְרוּשָלַיִם: קִרְיַת-סֵפֶר, תש”ל
[3]. J.H.Hertz (Ed.),”The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.” 2nd edition. London: Soncino Press, 1976.

 

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37 Responses

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    In Sefer HaRikmah, Rabbi Yonah ibn Janach
    lists 17 different meanings of the prefix-vav.

    They are reprinted in: Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet
    by Rabbi Michael L. Munk, year 1983, ArtScroll Publishers.

  2. Daniel Shain says:

    In your case A-2 above- where the vav prefix uses a shuruk before another letter with a shevah – do you have a comment about whether that shevah should a a shevah na or a shevah nach? I know there is debate about this.

    I am particularly confused by the Artscroll siddur, where in krias shema they have “u’v’shochbecha” as a sheva na, and uvkumecha as a sheva nach. Can anybody explain the difference? I see they have a meteg under the beis in “u’v’shochbecha”, but again, why should it be different than “uvkumecha”?

  3. S.Karni says:

    To Daniel Shain: the sheva after a shuruk is nach – unless that ‘vav’ has a ‘meteg’ under it. The ‘meteg’ – a small vertical line under a letter – is a secondary sign for emphasizing a syllable (in addition to the main emphasis of ‘mile-eil’ or ‘mile-ra’. In the example that you cite (Deut. 5:7), u’v’shochbecah’, the ‘vav’ DOES have a ‘meteg’ under it, causing the reader to make a small stop u’… . Therefore, that sheva which, without the vav is nach, becomes a sheva na, like every sheva that follows a closed syllable.

  4. S.Karni says:

    To Daniel Shain: the sheva after a shuruk is nach – unless that ‘vav’ has a ‘meteg’ under it. The ‘meteg’ – a small vertical line under a letter – is a secondary sign for emphasizing a syllable (in addition to the main emphasis of ‘mile-eil’ or ‘mile-ra’). In the example that you cite (Deut. 5:7), u’v’shochbecah’, the ‘vav’ DOES have a ‘meteg’ under it, causing the reader to make a small stop u’… . Therefore, that sheva which, without the vav is nach, becomes a sheva na, like every sheva that follows a closed syllable.

  5. Tzvi Daum says:

    Regarding whether or not the inversive vav always means “and” or not. The author’s point is well taken however there are those who disagree. For example, Unkelos never makes use of the inversive vav yet always adds it to his translations anyway which seems to imply that he is of the opinion that each inversive vav contains a connecting feature as well.

    TD

  6. mb says:

    Talking of Vav’s.
    A vav looks like a candle.
    The sedra Vayeishev is always read either just before or on Chanukah.
    There are 112 verses in Veyeishev.
    Guess how many of those 112 vverses do NOT start with a vav, a candle.
    Correct, 8!
    Not Earth shattering but cute!

  7. Chronology says:

    Did Avraham Mapu die 13 years before he was born?

  8. micha says:

    There is more to the vav-hahipuch (inversive vav) than that.

    Biblical Hebrew doesn’t speak in tenses, it speaks in aspects. IOW, what we tend to think of as past tense and future tense are really perfective and imperfective aspect. For those who forgot those terms the day after the final, “imperfect” means that the verb is being used from the perspective of not having finished yet. For example, while Prof Karni writes:
    וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְתְּ וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ וַיִּבֶז עֵשָו… = Esau ate, drank, rose, went his way, and spurned…
    I would instead suggest, “Esau was eating, drinking, [then?] getting up and going…”
    The vav connects the verb to the point in time of the narrative, serving as the “was” in “was eating”. What we think of as future sense, “yochal”, s the “-ing” of “eating”.

    It is not that “future tense” is inverted in Tanakh more often than it is used to actually denote future. It’s that when you get into a story, you tend to try to take the listener to the same point of time as the events. E.g. “So I was saying to my wife…” Add to that the prophetic voice, which is trying to relay a message from One for Whom tenses don’t work.

    In the reverse, when the Torah says, “וּבָאתָ אל הַתֵּיבָה”, I would render it, “You will have come to the ark.” (Perhaps to deemphasize free will; the deed is as good as done.)

    The vav should be labled a “vav consecutive imperfect” (or “… perfect”) rather than the “inversive vav”.

    This explanation is found both in the Machberes haTijan (reflecting Yemenite mesorah) and (lehavdil) Genesius.

  9. AN says:

    Prof. Karmi,

    You wrote

    In the example that you cite (Deut. 5:7), u’v’shochbecah’, the ‘vav’ DOES have a ‘meteg’ under it, causing the reader to make a small stop u’

    Which Tanach are you using which has a meteg under the bet? I don’t see in anywhere I have checked.

  10. AN says:

    no need to reply. I found that Leningrad has a meteg under the vav

  11. Moshe Shoshan says:

    you write
    וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְתְּ וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ וַיִּבֶז עֵשָו… = Esau ate, drank, rose, went his way, and spurned…

    now either the vav consecutive does not mean “and” where does the “and” come from in your translation? if it does why not before the other words as well.

  12. Nachum says:

    The second use of “Esav”?

  13. Daniel Shain says:

    Prof Karmi – thank you for your reply.

    Is there any reason why the vav in one case (u’v’shochbecha) has a meteg, and in the other cases (uvkumecha, uvlechtecha, uchsavtam) does not have a meteg?

  14. Micha:

    ” For those who forgot those terms the day after the final”

    i assume you are kidding.

  15. JLan says:

    “It is unfortunate that, in such instances, a respected translation like the Hertz/Soncino Press [3] introduces “and” practically every time there is a ‘vav consecutive’. The previous examples read there,
    “And God said ‘let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day…”
    “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
    “and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way, and spurned…”
    Such a rendition is choppy and does not convey the fluid, majestic continuity of the Hebrew text.”

    Robert Alter actually makes the same suggestion. He feels that the vav consecutive actually is supposed to catch your attention, sort of like “Hwaet” early on in Beowulf does. This would make particular sense in a text without vowels and without modern spacing: the vav consecutive would be a notice to the reader that a new clause or idea is coming up.

  16. micha says:

    Yes, “Abba”, I was trying to keep things light with “forgot those terms the day after the final”. I don’t think most native speakers ever learn these terms. Maybe if you learn English (or a foreign language in a class given in English) they use terms like “past pluperfect” to help “explain” the grammar. But I hope not.

  17. Shmuel says:

    Actually this meteg in uv’shochbecha should not make any difference. This is a particular type of meteg that occurs only in closed syllables, found also in the hei of “hamachaneh”, the aleph of “el-yaakov”, the vav of “vaivarechem” and the yud of “vayishtachavu”. If the veit of uv’shochbecha is part of a closed syllable, the shva must be nach. Hence the Artscroll is incorrect.

  18. S.Karni says:

    To Daniel Shain: Go to

    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/parshanut/taamey2a-2.doc

    comment #17. I hope this answers your question.

  19. Nachum says:

    JLan: Note that Hertz and Soncino use the old JPS, which is patterned on King James.

  20. Daniel Shain says:

    Prof Karmi -
    Thank you for the reference. I see from the comments that this a matter of controversy, whether the meteg really makes a difference here or not.

    I am also asking a different question of WHY is there a meteg in the word “u’v’shochbecha” ? What is different about this word such that it has a meteg and the veis is a sheva na, as opposed to the words uvkumecha, uchsavtam, etc, that are very similar but have no meteg and the letter after the initial vav is a sheva nach?

  21. Shmuel says:

    Daniel,
    The answer lies in the structure of the word. This particular meteg occurs in closed syllables two places before the accented syllable, provided the accented syallable begins with a shva na or chataf. Thus:
    HA-ma-chaneh
    El-y-aakov
    VAI-va-rechem
    vaYISH-ta-chavu
    UV-shoch-becha
    UV-a-haron
    UV-am-mecha
    VAI-yish-me’u
    VAI-ya-chalom
    ET-kol-p’nei
    AL-hab-b’eir
    MIM-ma-chorat
    MIZ-zar-acha
    KOL-ma-y’not
    Also, most of the time it only occurs in words with a disjunctive trope. Some prints of Tenach don’t have all these metegs altogether, in which case they won’t have one in uv-shochb’cha either.

  22. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    Some points:

    3 and 4 have the same reason as 2, i.e. you can’t have two consecutive shevas at the beginning of a word (a chataf has the same din as a sheva).

    It certainly makes sense for the inversion vav to also have the conjunctive function at times. Otherwise, what happens when the text needs a conjunction and the inversive form at the same time? Does it double the vav (eg. ve-va)? Of course not!

    More points to follow…

  23. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    While it’s true that Biblical Hebrew uses aspects, tenses are implied in the structure as well. Otherwise, why use the vav at all since the aspect is constant with or without it (eg. y’daber/vaydaber). There are four possible forms which reflect the four possible combinations of aspect and tense (eg. diber/v’diber/y’daber/vaydaber). If there were only aspect, then there would only be two forms.

  24. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    While it’s true that Biblical Hebrew uses aspects, tenses are implied in the structure as well. Otherwise, why use the vav at all since the aspect is constant with or without it (eg. y’daber/vaydaber)? There are four possible forms which reflect the four possible combinations of aspect and tense (eg. diber/v’diber/y’daber/vaydaber). If there were only aspect, then there would only be two forms. Therefore, I believe this vav can legitimately be called the inversive vav.

  25. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    shtayim shehein arba :)

  26. JLan says:

    “JLan: Note that Hertz and Soncino use the old JPS, which is patterned on King James.”

    I’m aware; so is Alter. He suggests that the authors of the KJV actually knew what they were doing, and wanted to bring out that call of attention. Alter uses “And” in his translation, as well.

  27. Nachum says:

    King James is actually very careful in translating- putting all inserted words in italics, for example.

  28. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    Regarding your first response to Daniel Shain, there IS certainly a debate about what kind of shva is after a shuruk at the beginning of a word. According to those that say it is treated as any other shuruk(tenuah gedolah), then there is always a shva na after it whether there is a meteg or not (Artscroll, by the way, does not follow this opinion). I believe the Gra dubs it a tenuah kalah as opposed to a tenuah gedolah since this shuruk is supposed to be a shva – but can’t be because of rule 2 above – and it is therefore not a full-fledged shuruk/tenuah gedolah. He considers it exactly parallel to the shva of prefixes like l’, b’, etc. that change to a chirik for the very same reason (rule 2) when followed by another shva. And there, almost no one says it’s a shva na.

  29. S.Karni says:

    To Moshe Shoshan, Dec. 5: The reason is found in the article itself,in the paragraph that begins,”Although this ‘vav’ does not mdean “and”…

  30. Yoni says:

    As always – very enjoyable article
    In the example of וָאֳנִיָּה, would the kamatz under the vav be a kamatz katan, as I think it is under the aleph? this somehow sounds unnatural to me, but I guess my ear isn’t trained well enough.

  31. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    Sorry…I should have included an example for the sake of illustration: So, in other words, instead of saying b’v’rachah, we say bivrakhah, but not biv’rakhah. Similarly, instead of v’v’rakhah we use a shuruk, but the Gra would say uvrakhah (instead of uv’rakhah) just like we would say bivrakhah instead of biv’rakhah).

    It’s ironic that most neglect those shva nas that are subject to virtually no controversy, while they pronounce this one which, if you want to be lenient, can be pronounced instead as a shva nach. To highlight the contrast, let’s look at both types in close proximity – i.e. in the very same word – as an example: ומברכים. Most would say um’varkhim. This, however, is not an acceptable option. The only viable options are um’var’khim and umvar’khim. The first shva is an optional shva na due to the controversy that surrounds it; however, the second shva must necessarily be a shva na.

    It’s definitely understandable, however, why this shva after the initial shuruk is so often pronounced as a shva na while the general tendency with most other shvas is to pronounce a shva nach over a shva na. I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s because when the word stands alone without the prefix, it is inevitably a shva na as in m’var’khim. It’s unnatural for us to expect a change in the word itself just because a prefix is added, but that’s how it is with respect to the initial shuruk according to this view, or even otherwise with respect to the initial chirik in place of a shva.

  32. S.Karni says:

    To Yoni, Dec. 10:

    you are right. Under the ‘vav’ there is kamatz katan, and the word is pronounced vo-oni-yah (Seph), or vo-oni-yoh (Ashk.)

  33. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    While I’m on the subject of misplaced shva nas, allow me to further divert off the topic of the vav prefix with another example of this. Past tense suffixes (or future, if we’re referring to the inversive vav) are generally taught – and correctly so – as endings added to the root. For example: amar + ti, amar + ta, amar + nu, etc., such that the plus sign can be said to represent a shva nach. However, most of us don’t exactly follow this model with the tav suffixes (ti, ta, etc.) when the final root letter is a daled. Most tend to interpose a shva na, yielding, for example, avad’ti instead of avadti. After all, we don’t say avad’nu, but avadnu; and we don’t say amar’ta, but amarta. Apparently, since the d and t are close in sound (both denti-alveolar consonants, as they are known in linguistics), people feel the need for a separation in the form of a shva na. But since they are only close in sound but not phonetically identical, their distinct sounds can be very well discerned with a simple shva nach (originally, the daled here is a fricative consonant, i.e. with no dagesh, whose sound is even more distinct from the tav). For those who would think otherwise, consider the following words or phrases that we say on a daily basis: m’lamed torah, yagid t’hilasekha, (or in English) “had to”, “bedtime”, “tried to”, i.e. we have no problem saying and hearing dt together; indeed, who can claim they only hear “haddo” or “hatto” and not the separate d and t sounds of “had to”? Our ears are very well trained to discern both.

    Additionally, after a shva na, a tav becomes a sav, so if you interpose the shva na, you may also want to say avad’sa instead of avad’ta; however, there is no such ending.

    Also…moladt’kha, but NOT molad’tkha or molad’t’kha (double shva na rule). Compare to memshalt’kha (not memshal’tkha) and tifart’kha (not tifar’tkha).

    A question arises, however, when the consonant sounds are identical, as in שחטת (two T sounds). My view is that we should leave a space (shachat – ta) rather than pronounce a shva na, thus adhering somewhat to the model of past-tense suffixes mentioned above as well as avoiding the requirement of a sav over a tav. Or perhaps we should use a shva na to separate identical consonant sounds as in hal’lu (shva na rule of identical consecutive letters). But then again, a sav would have to follow the shva na, as in ישרתו (Bamidbar 3). Or perhaps a more parallel example: וכתתו / v’khit’su (Yeshaya 2), where there’s tav – shva na – sav.
    Or what about – as another possible solution – fusing both letters together as one as in כרתי (Sh’mos 34) where the sav of the root and the tav of the suffix fuse to become a tav with a dagesh chazak? But perhaps that would only work when it is the same letter (tav/sav) but not different letters (tes/tav).

    Here’s a tricky one: לקטת (Rus 2). This is the 2nd person feminine singular form where the tav doesn’t represent a syllable unto itself, so it’s impossible to leave a space in between. Should we simply use a shva na and say likat’t (which is how everyone says it)? Originally the tes had a different sound (supposedly still extant in some communities today) such that this wasn’t even an issue: What if we pronounced the tes here as the affricate “ch” (as in “child”) to allow for use of a shva nach, and therefore likachd? Similarly, this can also apply to שחטת above. I think the proper modus operandi in this particular situation is yet to be resolved.

  34. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    I wanted to post this sooner but have been too busy to write. This post is the main reason I decided to comment on this article to begin with since it is the most important; I just needed to get all the other stuff out of the way first.

    A very elemental feature of the vav hahipukh is glaringly absent; though no doubt it was just an oversight.

    Actually, it pertains, in particular, to the vav hahipukh that converts past to future. While the future-to-past vav has a patach that identifies it as vav hahipukh – and therefore past tense – the past-to-future form doesn’t seem to have a feature (other than context) that would allow us to distinguish between past (where it may simply be a conjunctive vav – generally with a shva), eg. v’sham’ru, “and they kept…”, on the one hand; and future, v’sham’ru, “they shall keep…”, on the other.

    The truth, however, is that in certain cases there IS a feature that would tell us it is nothing other than the future form. It is baffling how so many are ignorant of this fundamental rule, including even many (ba’al) kor’im who end up changing the meaning because they are not cognizant of it – and therefore not careful about it.

    The general rule is that in the first-person singular and second-person-masculine singular conjugations, the vav alone doesn’t effect the hipukh; rather a change in syllabic stress – from mil’el to mil’ra – is also required to effect a “reversal” in tense. Some examples in Sh’ma would be v’ahavTA and v’nasaTI, where the CAPS denote the stressed syllable (second-person plural is always mil’ra, eg. v’limadTEM. One reason given is to be able to clearly hear whether it is a mem or the nun – i.e. –-tem or –-ten – since they are similar-sounding and are more easily discerned in an accented syllable.) Otherwise, if it’s mil’el (as in v’aHAVta), then the vav must be only conjunctive, and it’s past tense.

    It is astonishing that you can go to almost any shul (though generally less so if of the edot-hamizrah persuasion), listen to those around you recite Shema, and hear a vast percentage say these words the wrong way, thereby changing the meaning. And this is Shema which is supposed to be recited with utmost punctiliousness! What they are in fact saying is “and you LOVED Hashem,” as if you don’t love Him now – chas v’shalom.

    Referring to the monotone-sounding Shma that children learn in cheder, someone once said to me, “You mean to say that the way they taught us in Yeshiva is wrong?!” I retorted, “What is more authoritative? The monotone Sh’ma a three-year-old is taught or the ta’amim (system of trope and cantillation) which indicate which syllables should be accented (in accordance with the principle I am stating)?”

    It’s staggering and has always amazed me how, ironically, something so important – since it affects the meaning of the words – is so utterly unknown by so many of us who have had a yeshiva education. More m’chankhim in our yeshivos should be made aware of this simple principle so they could in turn increase awareness of, and therefore adherence to, this important rule. I know that mil’el and mil’ra are generally explained (the degree of which will of course vary depending on the institution), but as it applies to vav hahipukh, it is, mysteriously, virtually unknown and almost entirely overlooked.

    I should point out, though, that there are exceptions to the rule, yet I can only give a quick introduction here. When the shoresh has what is considered a weak final letter, there is no change in the kal form. For example: V’samachTA…however…v’haYIsa (i.e. shoresh ends in heh). I will also make reference to the nasog achor principle which might also be a possible factor for an unusual accent shift in a vav-hahipukh word. But all this is beyond the present scope and better left for another time. In the meantime, however, whenever in doubt, simply refer to a text with ta’amim to bypass all the guesswork.

  35. Hebrew Grammar Hammer says:

    Sometimes someone mistakenly pronounces a vav-hahipukh-patach with a shva. As we’ve explained, this changes the meaning (to just a conjunctive vav); someone who does this obviously isn’t aware of that. Similarly – though not as deplorable – there are those that do know the distinction (or at least they try to adhere to the text better) but do not always clearly enunciate the “va” where it can almost sound like a shva. Often it is unclear to me whether they pronounced a kamatz or a shva, even if I’m pretty sure they meant to pronounce a kamatz. One explanation of an amen chatufah is an amen where the alef sounds like it has a shva or a chataf vowel. When someone doesn’t properly enunciate the “va”, I like to call it a vav-hahipukh chatufah. We should promote cognizance not only of the vav-hahipukh, but also of enunciating the kamatz properly.

 
 

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