Is-real or Iss-raa-eel?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by S.A.M., Sep 14, 2008.

?

How do you pronounce Israel?

  1. Is-Real

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  2. Iss-Raa-Eel

    40.0%
  3. some other pronounciation

    40.0%
  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I heard someone pronounce Israel as Is-Real, rather than Iss-Raa-Eel.

    What do you say?
     
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  3. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    Is-real is the Americanized version. Iss-raa-eel is the hebrew version.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    That explains it. I was brainwashed by the Arabic version.
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The traditional English pronunciation was three syllables: IZ-ray-ell, with a long A. The third syllable was absorbed and it became IZ-rail, which is the way I heard it pronounced by Americans in the 1950s. I suspect the Brits had done the same thing, since the tendency to eliminate syllables is much stronger in British dialect than for us slow-talking Americans. Since AE is an uncommon vowel combination, nowadays Americans, including Jewish-Americans, perform the metathesis unconsciously and pronounce it as though it's spelled Isreal.

    You're not transcribing the Hebrew pronunciation correctly. It's not Is-ra-eel, it's Is-ra-ell, with a short E. It's spelled that way in Hebrew. I don't remember the names of all the Hebrew vowel subscripts, but I can read them, and that one is a short E, not an English long E, which is really an IPA I.

    In classical Hebrew the first vowel is a diphthong and it's pronounced Yis-ra'-ell. (With the glottal fricative ayin after the A, the same sound that's spelled GH in Romanized Arabic.) The name starts with the consonant yodh, which is pronounced Y. The mishmash that is modern Israeli Hebrew was scavenged from the way Jews who spoke Aramaic, Turkish, German, Russian, Arabic, English and any language except Hebrew read the liturgy phonetically without really knowing the language, and their pronunciation was influenced by 2500 years of Hebrew being less of a living language than Latin. So it's now Is-ra-ell, and often even Iz-ra-ell. If you consider how comically people pronounce Latin words, that's the way Israeli Hebrew would sound to Moses.

    The name of Israel was taken from the man Israel, and it means "struggles with God." Isra'-el. El is the first syllable of eloh, the Hebrew word for "god," an obvious cognate of Arabic allah in a language family that doesn't regard vowels as important phonemes. Hebrew names were typically formed by truncating a syllable from one of the component words.

    When the Jews became monotheists, they devised a new name for what they now considered the god, instead of a god. That name was spelled yodh he waw he, YHWH. Unlike virtually all other words from classical Hebrew, this one was never written with vowel subscripts, even for teaching or liturgy, because it was considered blasphemous to speak the god's name. Apparently they figured that if you had to guess at potentially three vowels, the chances of getting them right and committing inadvertent blasphemy were too small to worry about.

    Two vowels were traditionally added, making it the Yahweh that you'll likely encounter in books on the history of Judaism. In the garbled phonetics of modern Israeli Hebrew the W has changed to V and the resulting H before a consonant has become silent, so it's pronounced Ya-veh in Israel.

    The Romans of course transcribed our Y as J and our W as V. They didn't want to lose the first H so they inserted three vowels instead of two, and for reasons unknown to me they didn't retain the two that the Jews were using. So they wrote it as Jehovah. In English we don't pronounce J and V the way the Romans did, so that widely known name would probably not be recognizable to a speaker of either classical or modern Hebrew.

    The church whose official name is The Watchtower and Bible Tract Society is colloquially known as the Jehovah's Witnesses.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Well in Arabic it is إسرائيل‎

    Which is Iss-Raa-Eel.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I notice that vowel change has occurred in Arabic in many biblical names. They pronounce Gabriel as Gabreel. By historical linguistic accident, in English we stick closer to the original pronunciation in that one case.

    Tell me, has Arabic lost the glottal fricative between the A and E, just as modern Hebrew has? That's weird, since modern Arabic still has the phoneme. At least it did when the Persians assimilated hundreds of Arabic words. Farsi actually has that phoneme, which is foreign to the Indo-Iranian languages. The name Ghotbzadeh is even harder to pronounce than it looks.

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  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    No idea what that means.
     
  11. CheskiChips Banned Banned

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    Yis-rah-el.

    Yis = EEis
    Rah = Small fricative at the beginning mixed with a 'w' sound.
    El = ehl. With small space between h and l.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It's the phoneme in Arabic and Farsi that's transliterated as GH in English, as in Maghreb. Except we all pronounce that as G since the sound doesn't occur in our languages. Apparently you learned Arabic the way a hundred generations of Jews learned Hebrew, without getting the sounds right. But at least you have an excuse since you're not an Arab.

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    It's way back there in the place where Scandinavians, northern French, northern Germans and Cariocas make their gargled R. Except that sound is uvular (made with the uvula) and GH is even farther back than that, made with the glottis.

    A glottal stop is the sound that Cockneys make when they pronounce water as wa'er. A glottal fricative is made the same way except the air passage is not completely closed. The difference between S and T.

    I know the Indic langues don't have these phonemes either, but I don't know whether the language from your province is Indic or Dravidian. And in any case I don't know anything about Dravidian phonetics.
     
  13. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Ah, as in Maqh'reb? Like Qatar?
     
  14. CheskiChips Banned Banned

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    No, I think it has to be between two vowels.

    Ma-ariv.
     
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Its how qaaf ق and ghain غ are pronounced in Arabic.
     
  16. CheskiChips Banned Banned

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    Those two seem more likely.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes. The phoneme transliterated as GH is a glottal fricative: air is restricted by a partially closed glottis. The one transliterated as Q is a glottal stop: air is stopped by a completely closed glottis.

    We can see from these examples that they do not have to come between two vowels; being adjacent to one is sufficient. It's physiologically possible for GH to come between two consonants like any fricative (e.g. the S in extra, "ekstra," is surrounded by three of them and we could probably find an even bigger cluster in Czech), but I don't know if it actually occurs in that position in Arabic.

    Since I can barely pronounce the glottal stop Q at all, I have no idea whether it's physiologically possible for it to come between two consonants and if so whether it actually occurs in that position in Arabic.

    In classical Hebrew both of these consonants occurred only adjacent to one vowel, and my limited vocabulary suggests that they could only occur between two vowels or at the beginning or end of a word.

    In Hebrew the glottal stop is transcribed by the letter aleph, which would be spelled qalef in today's Arabic romanization. The glottal fricative is the letter ayin, which would now be spelled ghayin. Both sounds have been lost in modern Israeli Hebrew and both letters are silent. In Yiddish aleph is used with two subscripts to write A and O, since the Hebrew "alphabet" is really an abjad with no vowels, and ayin is used for E. Yodh is used for I and waw for U, so in Yiddish it has become a true alphabet.
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I see, I didn't read far enough. They're not glottal consonants but uvular. The same letters with the same names as Hebrew qoph and ayin, which should be spelled ghayin. Never having heard classical Hebrew spoken by a linguist with an authentic pronunciation, I got ayin wrong, but aleph is indeed a glottal stop and is customarily romanized as an apostrophe, so the name of the letter should be 'alef.

    I assume Arabic alif is also a glottal stop, or is it silent in the modern language?
     
  19. Steve100 O͓͍̯̬̯̙͈̟̥̳̩͒̆̿ͬ̑̀̓̿͋ͬ ̙̳ͅ ̫̪̳͔O Valued Senior Member

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    I say it "is-rail "

    As in...

    Is it a hand rail?
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    aleph is pronounced as "a" in "bad"; sometimes it is pronounced like the "a" in "father"
     
  21. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    I thought, Israel literally meant "Wrestles with God"? Who translates it "Stuggles"?
     
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    According to some archaelogists, Israel was most probably the name of an existing tribe that was adopted by the Hebrews. The Hebrew words are sara

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    and El

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    . The origin of sara is a mystery, in Arabic it is struggle but there is another word sarar in Hebrew which means reign. so its either the Struggle of El or Reign of El.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  23. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    But the person "Israel", literally wrestled with God.
     

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