Academic Transcription with 3ms Suffix on -y Plurals

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Jason Hare
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Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Academic Transcription with 3ms Suffix on -y Plurals

Post by Jason Hare »

I'm curious about the academic transcription (specifically, the one employed by Weingreen) with regard to the following words. I have been placing the y in parentheses to indicate that it is not pronounced.


I have always used the following:


Do you know of a better way to handle this silent letter in transcription?

Jason Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel
Nihil est peius iis, qui paulum aliquid ultra primas litteras
progressi falsam sibi scientiæ persusionem induerunt.

— Quintilian
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Kirk Lowery
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Re: Academic Transcription with 3ms Suffix on -y Plurals

Post by Kirk Lowery »


I don't have Weingreen at hand at the moment, but one of the issues with this question is the tension between representing the glyphs of the text and the underlying phonetic reality. The SBL Handbook of Style presents a system that tries to be accurate as to the underlying sounds. The Michigan encoding system goes to the other extreme and tries to represent each glyph (consonants, vowels, diacritics) in the text with a single Latin character or symbol.

So I guess the answer comes down to, what are you trying to communicate? With Weingreen, he's trying to teach beginning students the fundamentals without getting too complicated -- a sound pedagogic principle. In my practice, I introduce both systems, but emphasize the sounds for pronunciation. Only in the second year do I return to the writing system and get into details of how many sounds does a Hebrew letter represent and other features such as historical spelling, the ancient nominal case system -u, -i, -a, etc.

If your context is teaching, I think that your practice is fine. I assume you're trying to teach them how to pronounce the text. If you're planning on publishing something, then it depends. If it is in a linguistic context, you better go with the most accurate transcription of the phonetic reality. If it is in a journal of biblical studies of some sort, then the issue is what method of transcription best communicates your point.

The only other way I've seen to handle vowel letters and such is to drop them out of the transcription completely. That may not accomplish your purpose, however.
Kirk E. Lowery, PhD
B-Hebrew Site Administrator & Moderator
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