Gemination of /R/ in Samaritan Hebrew: A Note on Phonological Diversity in Second Temple Period Hebrew


In Jewish traditions of Biblical Hebrew, /r/ behaves like laryngeals and pharyngeals in that it resists gemination. Evidence from Septuagint transcriptions suggests that this lack of gemination is a late phenomenon of the post-biblical period. The Samaritan pronunciation tradition, on the other hand, attests to /rr/ in scores of forms. We offer the first comprehensive study of geminated /r/ in Samaritan Hebrew. A comparison with other traditions of Hebrew and with transcriptions allows for a fine-graded assessment of the phenomenon. It suggests that—apart from some instances of secondary development—/rr/ in Samaritan Hebrew essentially preserves an ancient trait that goes back to the biblical period. Thus, geminated /r/ represents one of the few cases in which Samaritan Hebrew is typologically older than the Tiberian tradition.