QAMES

אָ

SHORT BACK OPEN-MID ROUNDED VOWEL [ɔ]

In unstressed closed syllables, or when accompanied by the shewa/ḥatef sign, Tiberian Hebrew qames is pronounced as a short ɔ-vowel. This sound is between patah /a/ and ḥolem /o/ with the lips rounded.

Note that in unstressed closed syllables, one has to distinguish between qameṣ that derives from the /o/ phoneme (e.g., in חָכְמָה 'wisdom', pronounced as [ħɔχmɔː]) and qameṣ that derives from the /ɔ̄/ phoneme (e.g., שָׁמְרוּ 'they kept', pronounced as [ʃɔːɔmʀ̟uː]). Only the former is pronounced as short [ɔ]. When qameṣ in a closed syllable derives from the long /ɔ̄/ phoneme, it is pronounced extra long as [ɔːɔ] (see below).

[ɔ]

אָ

אֳ

Hidayat al-Qari

The second place of articulation is the place of articulation of qameṣ. It is slightly above the root of the tongue, this being the (first) third of the tongue, and its movement is to above the palate.

Translation from Khan (TPTBH II.L.2.15.2)

EXAMPLE WORDS:

גָּפְרִ֣ית

[gɔfˈʀ̟iːiθ]

חָכְמָ֑ה

ɔχˈmɔː]

לְכְלָֽה

[lɔʔɔχˈlɔː]

כָּל־

[kʰɔl]

LONG BACK OPEN-MID ROUNDED VOWEL [ɔː]

In stressed and/or open syllables, qameṣ is pronounced as a long vowel [ɔː].

[ɔː]

אָ

(in open or stressed syllable)

Hidayat al-Qari

The total number of vowels is seven: אֹ ,אִ ,אֵ ,אֶ ,אַ ,אָ and אֻ. From within these seven vowels the letters ו ,ה ,א, and י are pronounced. From qameṣ, pataḥ and segol ʾalef and he are pronounced, as in עַמֶּיךָ ,עֲבָדֶיךָ and קָשֶׁה. If the he (in קָשֶׁה) were elided, the segol (by itself) would indicate its existence, just as the qameṣ in עַמְּךָ ,שִׁמְךָ and עֲבָדֶיךָ indicates the existence of ʾalef or he in full orthography.

Translation from Khan (TPTBH II.S.4.2)

EXAMPLE WORDS:

דָּבָ֑ר

[dɔːˈvɔːɔʀ̟]

הָא֖וֹר

[hɔːˈʔoːoʀ̟]

אָֽרֶץ

[ˈʔɔːʀ̟ɛsˁ]

בָּרָ֣א

[bɔːˈʀ̟ɔː]

EXTRA LONG BACK OPEN-MID ROUNDED VOWEL [ɔː]

In closed syllables, qameṣ that derives from the phoneme /ɔ̄/—rather than qameṣ that derives from the short phoneme /o/ (see above)—is pronounced as an extra long vowel [ɔːɔ].

[ɔːɔ]

אָ

(in closed syllable, derives from /ɔ̄/)

Hidayat al-Qari

The total number of vowels is seven: אֹ ,אִ ,אֵ ,אֶ ,אַ ,אָ and אֻ. From within these seven vowels the letters ו ,ה ,א, and י are pronounced. From qameṣ, pataḥ and segol ʾalef and he are pronounced, as in עַמֶּיךָ ,עֲבָדֶיךָ and קָשֶׁה. If the he (in קָשֶׁה) were elided, the segol (by itself) would indicate its existence, just as the qameṣ in עַמְּךָ ,שִׁמְךָ and עֲבָדֶיךָ indicates the existence of ʾalef or he in full orthography.

Translation from Khan (TPTBH II.S.4.2)

EXAMPLE WORDS:

דָּבָ֑ר

[dɔːˈvɔːɔʀ̟]

בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט

[bammiʃˈpʰɔːɔ]

שָׁמְר֖וּ

ɔːɔmˈʀ̟uː]

בָּנָ֑יו

[bɔːˈnɔːɔv]

SOURCES AND FURTHER READING

Khan, Geoffrey. 2020. The Tiberian Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew. Cambridge: Cambridge and Open Book Publishers. §I.2.

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