[23l] Rem. In connexion with ō and ē, a ה which only marks the vowel ending is occasionally changed into ו or י (רָאוֹ=רָאֹה, חַכֵּי=חַכֵּה Ho 69), and with any vowel into א in the later or Aramaic orthography, but especially with ā, e.g. שֵׁנָא sleep, ψ 1272 for שֵׁנָה; נָשֹׁא Jer 2339 for נָשֹׁהּ, &c. Thus it is evident that final ה as a vowel letter has only an orthographical importance.
Philippi, Die Aussprache der semit. Konsonanten ו und י (mentioned above, §5b, note 1), a thorough investigation of their phonetic value as consonantal, i.e. non-syllabic, vowel-sounds, not palatal or labial fricatives; cf. also E. Sievers, Metrische Studien, i. 15.
[24a] ו and י are, as consonants, so weak, and approach so nearly to the corresponding vowels u and i, that under certain conditions they very readily merge into them. This fact is especially important in the formation of those weak stems, in which a ו or י occurs as one of the three radical consonants (§69 ff., § 85, § 93).
1. The cases in which ו and י lose their consonantal power, i.e. merge into a vowel, belong almost exclusively to the middle and end of words; at the beginning they remain as consonants.
The instances may be classified under two heads:
[24b] (a) When either ו or י with quiescent Šewâ stands at the end of a syllable immediately after a homogeneous vowel (u or i). It then merges in the homogeneous vowel, or more accurately it assumes its vowel-character (ו as u, י as i), and is then contracted with the preceding vowel into one vowel, necessarily long, but is mostly retained orthographically as a (quiescent) vowel letter. Thus הוּשַׁב for huwšab; יִיקַץ for yiyqaṣ; so also at the end of the word, e.g. עִבְרִי a Hebrew, properly ʿibrîy, fem. עִבְרִיָּה, pl. עִבְרִיִּים (and עִבְרִים); עָשׂוּ Jb 4125 for עָשׂוּו (cf. עֲשׂוּוֹת 1 S 2518 Kethîbh). On the other hand, if the preceding vowel he heterogeneous, ו and י are retained as full consonants (on the pronunciation see §8m), e.g. שָׁלֵו quiet, זִו the month of May, גּוֹי nation, גָּלוּי revealed. But with a preceding ǎ the ו and י are mostly contracted into ô and ê (see below, f), and at the end of a word they are sometimes rejected (see below, g).
- Or as consonantal vowels (see above), and are then transcribed by P. Haupt, Philippi, and others, as u̯, i̯, following the practice of Indogermanic philologists. וּ for וְ and, alone is a standing exception, see § 26. 1 and §104e. On י=i at the beginning of a word, cf. §47b, note. According to §19a, end, initial ו in Hebrew almost always becomes י; always in verbs originally פ״ו, §69a. Apart from a few proper names, initial ו occurs only in וָו hook, וָלָד child Gn 1130, 2 S 623 Kethîbh [elsewhere יֶ֫לֶד], and the doubtful וָזָד Pr 218.