Friday, May 15, 2009

One for the Diqduq Geeqs

by Cantor Sherwood Goffin

Kamatz Katan in
Reading the Siddur and Chumash

For those of us who pronounce our Hebrew with the Sephardic pronunciation, that is : "..NoTain Hatorah," rather than the Ashkenazic "..NoSain Hatoraw," we have to be very careful to correctly read the kamatz katan. This is especially true when serving as the Shaliach Tzibbur or when reading the Torah in public. If it is read incorrectly, your reading may be invalid! This rule of grammar changes the kamatz (T-shaped vowel) from the sephardic "Ah" to "aw." The most obvious example is the word "Kol," that if read carefully might seem to be "Kawl." This word, however, most people know intuitively: "Asher bachar banu miKAWL..."even though it looks like it should be pronouced "Kal." The rule for Kamatz Katan is complicated and I will not therefore burden you with most of the rules, but there are three rules that are easier to identify:

1) When two kamatzes are together, and the second has a chataf (:), the second one is pronounced as an "aw," as in "tsahoraim".(Some do this for both).

2) When a word originally had a cholam ("oh") such as Kodesh, and is now written with a kamatz ("ah"), it is pronounced "kawdshecha," even though it looks like "Kadshecha."

3) Kamatz katan never appears on an accented syllable.

Other examples are: "Ug'dol" in Ashrei, "Ozi" in Az Yashir, "Uv'shochb'cha" in Sh'ma, "Choneinu" and "V'Onyeinu" in the Shmoneh Esray, and many, many others. The only cure (besides learning all the rules) is to get a Rinat Yisrael Siddur, where all the kamatz katans are highlighted in bold. A reader in Sephardit who doesn't know the rules MUST daven from this siddur - minimally when serving as Shaliach Tsibbur (Chazzan). The same is true, of course for Torah Readers who should refer to the "Simanim" tikkun or the new "Kestenbaum" tikkun by Artscroll when preparing a reading. It's not easy, but you show respect for Davening and Laining when you are careful about this rule. It is clearly wrong to do otherwise.


© 2009 Sherwood Goffin and Lincoln Square Synagogue


Torah said...

Very intersting!!

Lisa said...

Well, there is another solution. Learn the real rule (unaccented closed syllable) and get used to it.

Also, there are other siddurim that indicate a kamatz katan / hataf kamatz.

It does irk me to no end when I hear people say "u-fakdeinu vo livracha" in Yaaleh v'Yavo and "lishbat bo" in Retzeh.

But vowels are far from the only problem. Pronouncing an `ayin as an alef when you say "u-l'`ovdo" in the second perek of Kriyat Shma is total hiruf. Same, really, with the word "Shema" itself, which becomes "perhaps" when you alef-ize the `ayin.

Gabriel Wasserman said...

The Sephardic system would be "noten", not "NoTain". The latter is American Ashkesfard.

thanbo said...

Chemong yisro'el, adonoi alowhenu, adonoi ahhawth.

I try to do it that way, knowing what the Gemara says about those who pronounce `ayin as 'aleph, but most don't. Who are we to say that 99% of Ashkenazi Jews are blasphemers?

Anonymous said...

Re noten vs notein, the latter is American synagogue Sephardic, the most common pronunciation in American Masorti and Reform synagogues. NOTEN is modeled on Israeli Hebrew, which is modeled only partially on Sephardic and partially on a European Creolization process a century or so ago. It's science.