|𐤁𐤀𐤋𐤉𐤀𐤓𐤉𐤕 𐤎𐤅𐤐𐤅 |
|Native speakers||800,000 (2023)|
Balearic Hebrew (Paleo-Hebrew scipt: 𐤁𐤀𐤋𐤉𐤀𐤓𐤉𐤕 𐤎𐤅𐤐𐤅 sufu balyarīt) is a Canaanite Semitic language descended from a variety of Hebrew spoken in the northern kingdom of ancient Israel between the 10th century and the 8th century BCE. Formed from the speech of ancient Israelites to the Phoenician speaking Balearic islands, the language has a Canaanite core, evolving from ancient Hebrew between the 8th and 2nd centuries BCE. Roman occupation brought in considerable Latin influence, which would only strengthen as more settlers speaking Iberian Romance languages such as Old Spanish and Catalan came to the islands. The language emerged from contact between diverse peoples in Antiquity. Although its vocabulary largely derives from ancient Hebrew, words that deal with subjects such as law, war, and politics tend to be of Latin derivation. The grammar preserves to an extent ancient Semitic verb paradigms, and has changed alongside Classical Latin influence.
Phoenician colonists encouraged Hebrew migration to the islands, and many more emigrated around 720 BCE after the destruction of the Kingdom of Samaria. Eventually, Hebrew speakers outnumbered Phoenician speakers, though the two closely related languages facilitated communication. After the Second Punic War, the islands came under Roman control. Roman Latin speakers settled on the islands, considerably influencing the speech of the majority Jewish population. This period saw the reduction of many Biblical phonological and grammatical structures, as the language leaned toward the Latin spoken by the new settlers. Despite the Roman occupation, the islands enjoyed considerable autonomy and were a flourishing economic center of the Republic, exporting agricultural produce, cattle, rabbits, snails, and a red dye favored by Roman painters. The speakers of this dialect of Hebrew also clung to the alphabet of their Phoenician and Israelite ancestors, never switching to the Assyrian script used by their counterparts in the Levant. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the islands fell under the control of the Umayyad Dynasty, and subsequently lived under Islamic political control until the 13th century. The islands' population fell drastically as crusaders fought the less tolerant Almoravid dynasty, destroying harbors and reducing the islands as a regional sea power. After the Reconquista, the islands became a major center of economic and military power for the kingdom of Aragón, and Balearic Hebrew was the major language of the province, until the islands' conquest by the Ottomans. In 1492, the Edict of Expulsion caused many Spanish Jews to emigrate to the Ottoman-controlled islands. The Jewish population fluctuated, but still remained the major demographic force in the region up until the modern period. Now, there are over a million speakers of Balearic Hebrew, and a similar amount of Jews on the islands.
|Balearic Hebrew Letter||𐤀||𐤁||𐤂||𐤃||𐤄||𐤅||𐤆||𐤇||𐤈||𐤉||𐤊||𐤋||𐤌||𐤍||𐤎||𐤏||𐤐||𐤑||𐤓||𐤔||𐤕|
|Square Hebrew (Ktav Ashuri) letter||א||ב||ג||ד||ה||ו||ז||ח||ט||י||כ||ל||מ||נ||ס||ע||פ||צ||ר||ש||ת|
|Pronounciation||ʔ / a||b||g||d||h||u||s||ħ||tˤ <ṭ>||j <y> / i <ī>||k||l||m||n||s||e||f||sˤ <ṣ>||r||ʃ <š>||t|
Balearic Hebrew uses a modified version of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. The language is written right to left, with little punctuation. Like other Semitic abjads, vowels are generally unwritten. The only exceptions being the "strong" vowels, a, ī, u. E is also sometimes written, using the ancient letter for ayin. Some writing has no vowels indicated at all.
Balearic Hebrew has 19 consonantal phonemes.
1The emphatic fricative has various pronunciations due to Iberian influence. Besides the pharyngealized pronunciation, it is most often pronounced as a denti-alveolar voiceless affricate /ts/, as in Modern Hebrew.
Various consonants characteristic of the Biblical era have been lost.
One of the most notable changes in the consonantal system is the complete loss of the /p/ phoneme. Likely due to Berber influence, the stops /b g d p t/ lenite to the fricatives /β γ ð f θ/ intervocalically. /p/ lenited in all positions to /f/, as it was in Proto-Arabic.
Historical sound changes
Balearic Hebrew has undergone various sound changes because of Berber, Punic, and Latin influence. It differs radically from Biblical Hebrew, and Mishnaic Hebrew in terms of pronunciation.
- Like in Levantine Hebrew, the ancient dual pronounciations of het and ayin merged into two possible phonemes: /ħ/ and /ʕ/ respectively.
- As in Samaritan Hebrew, the phoneme /ɬ/ merged with /ʃ/ instead of /s/, as in Tiberian Hebrew.
- BH qoph /q/ merged with either /g/ or /ʔ/.
- BH ayin /ʕ/ merged with /g/ or /h/.
- BH waw /w/ merged with /b/ always. /b/ is also in free variation with /v/ or /β/, a phenomenon known as betacism common in Iberian Romance languages.
- BH zayin /z/ devoiced to /s/.
- BH resh became /r/. Like in Spanish, /r/ is pronounced as a tap within the word, but as a trill beginning one.
- Final /h/ is lost and never pronounced in Balearic Hebrew.
Historical Spirantization and Allophony
Similar to the Hebrew dialects spoken in the Levant, the stops /p t b d g/ underwent spirantization in Balearic Hebrew. /k/ is never spirantized, unlike the Aramaic-influenced speech of the Levant.
|pe||p||ɸ ~ f|
|bet||b||β ~ v|
|gimel||g||ɣ ~ ŋ|
While previously allophonic in pronunciation, the /p/ phoneme has completely lenited into /f/. The rest of the stops, /t b d g/ are essentially in free variation with their allophones. The non-stop pronunciation is more typical between vowels, but speakers do not distinguish these sounds from their stop pairings.
Additionally, the /r/ sound can be pronounced /ð/ between vowels, though this is an archaic pronunciation. Generally it is a tap intervocalically, but many speakers confuse the sounds.
The vowel system of Balearic Hebrew is much more conservative compared to modern Hebrew pronunciations. Nevertheless, there are significant differences that contrast Balearic Hebrew from its ancestor, Biblical Hebrew.
Balearic Hebrew nouns and adjectives are declined according to gender, number, and sometimes state. Due to Latin influence, many nouns in Balearic Hebrew are not of Semitic origin. Thus, the emphasis of roots on noun derivations is much less than in Biblical Hebrew.
Nouns and Adjectives
Nouns are marked for gender (masculine or feminine), number (singular, plural, and dual), and state (absolute or construct), and also definiteness.
In nouns that end in a vowel in the singular, the plural form inserts an /h/ for euphonic reasons.
Adjectives match the noun they modify in terms of gender and number (if a noun is dual, the adjective declines for the plural number), Adjectives can also stand alone and function as a noun rather than only describe a noun.
The singular form refers to a single item. Masculine singular nounds have no suffixes. Feminine nouns do. For example, the word sū is the masculine singular form for horse (stallion), while sūhū is the feminine form (mare).
The plural form of a term refers to two or more of that item. In Balearic Hebrew, the plural form generally refers to multiple people or objects. However, idiomatic uses of the plural form of a word express different meanings about a single entity. Balearic Hebrew has only regular plurals (i.e, no broken plurals).
The common plural expresses more than one of a person or thing. In the case of words such as ʔilohī, "god," Balearic Hebrew utilizes a majestic plural. This plural use is likely related to the abstract plural also common in Balearic Hebrew. These nouns, while plural grammatically, are translated as singular. In English, these nouns have endings like -ness, -hood, or -ship. One example is "blindness," which in Balearic Hebrew is bahanbirī. No singular form exists. Adjectives that modify these nouns are often singular, matching the implied number rather than the apparent form.
The dual form is usable on most nouns. On nouns which come in pairs, such as body parts (two legs) or expressions with time or numbers (twice: two times), the dual is required. While in Biblical Hebrew the dual might cause some vowel changes, it has been reduced to a suffix in Balearic Hebrew. Dual nouns agree with the plural form of a verb.
While in Biblical Hebrew a "pseudo-dual" developed with body parts that come in pairs (such as eyes), Balearic Hebrew has reanalyzed this number agreement. Therefore, while in Biblical Hebrew a spider might be described as having eight eyes, "eyes" not being plural but "pseudo-dual," speakers of Balearic Hebrew would describe the spider as having four pairs of eyes, using the dual and the cardinal number "four."
Sound changes have made the dual absolute indistinguishable from the dual construct.
Gender is often visible from the noun. Most nouns without a specific suffix are likely masculine, and these nouns with no unique ending are the standard dictionary ending of a form. The most common feminine endings are -ū and -t. Nouns agree with verbs in gender as well as in number.
Certain nouns, while appearing masculine or feminine, are actually the other gender. As a general rule, feminine nouns deal with the following topics: place names, cities, directions, instruments, tools, body parts, elements, powers, forces, abstract nouns, and women. Animate nouns, such as those referring to people or animals, have the grammatical gender corresponding to their natural gender. For example, the noun sū is a male horse (a stallion), while a female horse is sūhū, or a male horse with the feminine ending -hū.
Adjectives acting as adverbs will use the definite article and the feminine singular to express meaning.
Nouns can appear in either the absolute state or the construct state. The absolute state is the standard form of a noun. Adjectives, participles, and infinitives, while in Biblical Hebrew could be in either state, can only be in the absolute state in Balearic Hebrew.
The construct state is used when a word takes a suffix to connect to another term in a construct chain. These chains indicate a unique grammatical link, but do not indicate possession. These links have to do with familial relations (the son of), materials (pot of gold), unique items (the king of kings), and loaned compound nouns. For example, the feminine words kehū (cheese) and hūgū (cake) compounded together form hūgat kehū or "cheescake." A gloss for this construct chain is cake-of cheese.
Often, the absolute noun that has the linked relationship with the construct noun has a definite article.
Unmarked nouns are in the indefinite state. There are three main ways to define a noun: one, with the definite article ha prefixing the noun, two, with a pronominal suffix possessing a noun, and three, with a demonstrative pronoun.
While in Biblical Hebrew the definite prefix /ha-/ caused gemination of the initial consonant of the noun, no such process occurs in Balearic Hebrew. However, after prepositions and conjunctions, the initial consonant /h/ drops, just as in Biblical Hebrew.
For nouns which start with /ʔ/ or /h/, the definite article causes this consonant to drop. For example, the word ʔabū, meaning "father", becomes labū, meaning "the father." Also visible is the insertion of /l/, an import from Latin demonstratives or the Arabic definite article.
Like in Spanish, nouns taken in a generic sense require definition. It is ungrammatical in Balearic Hebrew to say "milk is good" with no definite article, as one would say it in English. However, poetic Balearic Hebrew makes little use of the definite article, and so this rule has an exception.
Additionally, proper names are often introduced with the definite article, untranslateable in English but common in languages such as Catalan. For example, "Moses," would be hamoši in Balearic Hebrew.
Attributive adjectives are linked to nouns through the definite article, so that both the noun and its modifier have the definite article. This rule applies to participles as well.
Nominal word order
Adjectives and modifying nouns function either attributively or as a predicate. Generally, the attributive adjectives will immediately follow the noun it modifies and decline like the preceding noun. The only exception to this positioning is number adjectives, which can come before the noun.
Predicative adjectives describe nouns using an implied linking verb. Predicative nouns can also precede the noun the modify. Unlike attributive adjectives, a predicative adjective can be indefinite even if it describes a definite noun. To distinguish between an attributive and predicative adjective, here are two phrases.
- ha-domno nūgīn = "the landlord is good"
- ha-domno ha-nūgīn= "the good landlord"
The most common conjunctions are be "and," ʔo "or," kī "because," and ʔīn "if." These words connect two different words, phrases, or clauses. The difference between a particle and a conjunction is not very clearly defined.
Uses of be
The most common and versatile conjunction is be, a prefixing conjunction. When it attaches to a noun with the definite article ha, be becomes e. For example, hadomno ebet means "the landlord and the house."
The general translation for be is and. It connects two ideas together. When attached to two different verbs, it indicates that they occur at the same time or are otherwise related in meaning.
Two instances of be is equivalent to the English correlative "either...or." When connected to verbs that are negated, it can have the meaning "neither...nor." For example, ʔal katab beʔal ʔakal means "neither write nor eat." The second negative particle is not required.
Uses of kī
The word kī is very versatile. Most generally, it expresses a causal relationship between two ideas, similar to English "because" or "for." For example, kī kūtabta lūkūtabtī-kū, means "because you wrote, I am blessing you."
With the subjunctive in the clause introduced after kī, the conjunction expresses purpose or a goal. In this context, it is translated as "so that" or "in order to."
Additionally, kī can introduce a clause stating the surrounding events at the time of the action in the main clause. This is called a circumstantial clause, and kī is followed by a verb in the subjunctive.
Uses of ʔīn
ʔīn is most common in conditional clauses. Therefore, its primary translation is "if." Different conditions are expressed depending on if the verb is in the indicative or subjunctive, base on complete factual implications, future conditions, or counterfactual conditions.
The subordinating conjunction
The subordinative clause that has no nominal antecedent uses the conjunction ʔašir. It is translated as English "that." Typically, this word introduces a subjunctive verb in the subordinate clause.
Additionally, ʔašir can stand alone and form a jussive or cohortative meaning with the subjunctive form. For example, ʔašir nīktūb means "let us write."
These particles are used in commands or requests when speaking to someone older or of higher social standing, or to God. They roughly translate to "please," "oh," or "pray!" They indicate high expression of emotion, and at times desperation.
In order of weaker to strongest emotive force, nūg is less strong than ʔūnūg. Paired together, they mean something similar to "I beseech!" This is the strongest use of these particles.
The particle bī is similar to those exhortative particles, but has a slightly different meaning. It is used to make a polite request to a superior, and precedes the person addressed. For example, bī domnoyī, natan lī hadīnūryo meaning "please, my landlord, give me the money." bī is also used preceding second person plural pronouns to refer to a singular person of higher social standing, similar to the French use of the plural pronoun vous. Using an Iberian Spanish translation:
- ʔati = vosotros (you all)
- bī ʔati = usted (you, formal)
In this way, Balearic Hebrew has developed a T-V distinction parallel to Romance languages spoken in the region.
There are two negative particles in Balearic Hebrew.
The first, lo, is the most common and is used to negate verbs in the indicative, as well as non-finite verbs. For example, lo kūtabtī means "I did not write." Additionally, lo is used in verbless clauses to negate them, with an implied linking verb. For example, the phrase si lo bikamfo means "he is not on the battlefield."
The second, ʔal, is used to negate verbs in the imperative or subjunctive. For example, ʔal kītbū means "do not write."
Some prepositions are always prefixed to nouns, modifying, if present, the definite article. Other noun phrases act as prepositions, but are not as widely used. The prefixing prepositions do not stem from the triconsonantal roots.
The three major prepositions
These prepositions are the most commonly used prepositions and are a single consonant and a vowel.
- bi = in, at, with, by
- li = towards, to, for
- mi = from, out of, concerning, about, of
These prepositions are very versatile and attach to the beginning of the noun they relate to. For example, bibet means "in a house."
Uses of bi
The most common use of bi is for spatial phrases indicating place where. Words such as “in," “on," “under," “with," “beside," and "at," all are valid translations of the preposition bi. Unlike English, bi meaning "in" cannot mean "into." That would be a translation of li.
Instrumental words such as "by," "with," or "using," are equivalent to the preposition bi.
Temporal constructions in Balearic Hebrew are most often used with the preposition bi. Bi describes when an action happened, and common English translations include "in," "during," "at," "while." temporal clauses with the infinitive are usually introduced with bi. For example, the phrase "while talking" is the translation of Balearic Hebrew bi-dabbir. Other temporal clauses that do not have this "when" meaning are formed with other prepositions.
Uses of li
One of the most common uses of li is to indicate the indirect object of a verb. For example, in the Biblical verse "God called the light 'day'" (Genesis 1:5), the word "light" would be prefixed with li to indicate that it is the secondary recipient of the main verb's action.
The direction towards something is always expressed with the preposition li. This meaning is categorized in two different ways: one, the direction toward an object, and two, the reaching of or attaining to it. In this way, it is very semantically similar to the Latin preposition ad.
Li is also the preposition used to create the construction for the agent of a passive verb. This preposition attaches to the enclitic personal pronoun, or a noun, to show who is causing the passive action to happen to the patient
While simple possession in Balearic Hebrew is denoted by the use of pronominal suffixes, or with the preposition mi, it can also be expressed with li and the impersonal verb het, a descendant of Latin habet, supplanting the Biblical adverb yiš. Het is generally translated as "there is," or "there are." For example, lo het sū li-hak means "You don not have a horse," literally, "there is no horse to you."
Uses of mi
Mi denotes the going out, departure, or separation of an object or person from any fixed point. In this way, it both means "from" as in a literal directional sense, and "about," as a figurative line from one idea to another.
Mi is also very commonly used to indicate possession. This use is likely an innovation paralleled with the Latin preposition dē, which became a marker of possession in Romance. For example, habet madomno means "the landlord's house," literally, "the house from the landlord."
With the definite article
These three prepositions lose the <i> when the noun or adjective they modify is definite. Instead, the <i> is exchanged for /a/. Therefore:
|Noun + Preposition||bibet||in a house|
|Noun + Definite Article||habet||the house|
|Noun + Both||babet||in the house|
Other non-prefixing prepositions also exist in Balearic Hebrew. Of these, the most common are:
- kimo = "like," "as," "than"
- hal = "over," "above," "upon"
- ben = "between," "among"
- hīm = "accompanying," "with"
Of these, kimo is the most versatile. It is used in comparative phrases with adjectives, or for correlatives.
Definite object preposition
The definite object preposition ʔit indicates the direct object of some verb. It does this by directly preceding the noun or phrase that functions as the direct object of a verb (either finite or non-finite). It is only used if the object is definite, in the case of an indefinite direct object, no preposition is used to mark it. For example, in the sentence "God created the sun," būratta ʔilohī ʔit hašimiš, the particle is on view before hašimiš, "the sun." Enclitic pronouns define a noun, so the preposition is used in this case as well.
Conjunctions such as be, "and" can attach to this particle if there are two direct objects.
Balearic Hebrew has 10 distinct forms for the personal pronouns. The 1st person has no gender distinction.
The 3rd person pronouns are identical to the medial demonstrative pronouns.
Since verbs already indicate their subject through inflection, the subject pronoun is optional but is added for emphasis.
These are suffixes that can be attached to nouns, verbs, particles, or prepositions.
When attached to a noun, the noun must be in the construct state. This forms a construction equivalent to possessive pronouns in English. Therefore, "my horse," would be sūyī, and "my horses" would be sūheyī.
For euphonic reasons, if a word ends in a vowel, then a /h/ is inserted before the enclitic pronoun, unless it is the first person singular, in which case a <y> is.
If the direct object of a verb is a personal pronoun, no direct object particle is used with the non-enclitic forms. Instead, the enclitic is attached to the end of the verb. For example, "he judges you" is the translation of lūšūpaṭ-kū. However, for emphasis, the enclitic form can actually attach to the end of the direct object particle, causing a vowel change. Instead of usual ʔit, the particle becomes ʔot.
The formal second person pronouns use the plural pronoun suffixes with the particle bī immediately following.
Pronouns with prepositions
The three prefixing prepositions take the enclitic pronoun as the object of said preposition. This causes their <i> vowel to lengthen to <ī>. Thus, "to you," is lī-kū. The first person singular enclitic adds no epenthetic /h/.
In addition to the three prefixing prepositions, all the other non-phrasal prepositions also take the enclitic pronoun. For example, "upon them" is hal-ahi, not *hal ʔilī.
Balearic Hebrew has three kinds of demonstratives, whose use depends on the distance (physical or figurative) between the speaker and the modified noun. This is similar to Spanish or Old English, and an innovation from Biblical Hebrew
The proximal demonstratives evolve from a combination of the word po, meaning "here," and the Biblical demonstrative set. The distal combine the archaic particle hīni with the demonstrative set, creating a three-fold system unlike any other Semitic language.
These demonstratives can function either as pronouns or as attributive adjectives.
Additionally, to introduce a personal relative clause, the medial demonstratives are used, not necessarily requiring an antecedent. For example, ʔūkal hakehū sot tūrattī means "he ate the cheese which I surrendered," with sot serving as the introduction to that relative clause.
Indefinite pronouns refer to a person or thing, but not anything specific. English translations of the two pronouns would be "whoever" and "whatever."
Balearic Hebrew has mī referring to people ("whoever") and mū for objects ("whatever"). These are also two interrogative pronouns ("who?" and "what?", respectively). For example, mī mūtat can mean "he who died," "whoever died," or "who died?"
Besides the pronouns mī and mū that also function as question words, Balearic Hebrew has many others. These pronouns also function as adjectives.
The interrogative prefix of Biblical Hebrew is lost, instead, word order is flipped to convey a question. However, with these interrogatives, word order does not need to change and often does not.
Numerals tend to be irregular adjectives, though they follow a pattern very similar to the general adjective. Of the cardinal numbers from 1-10, 1 is an adjective, 2 is a noun in the dual number, and the rest are nouns that do not change according to number, but that distinguish gender. Balearic Hebrew distinguishes cardinal and ordinal numbers.
Like Classical Arabic, Balearic Hebrew exhibits gender polarity in numeral agreement, but only for numbers after 20. Multiples of 10 do not decline according to the gender of the counted noun.
The numbers 11-19 are formed by writing the number 10 followed by the number 1-9. In this way, Hebrew reverses English "seven-ten" with something more similar to Spanish "diez-y-siete." However, the masculine form of 10 is hūšūr, and the feminine is hišri. Therefore, "seventeen" would be hūšūr šivan for 17 masculine nouns, and hišri šīvnū for 17 feminine nouns.
These numbers are applicable to nouns of either gender.
Multiples of 10 plus units are written with the same rules as the number 11-19. For example, "thirty three" is written as šlošī bišūloš, or "thirty and-three." The only thing notable about these numbers is that they exhibit gender polarity, so šlošī bišūloš refers to 33 feminine nouns, because šūloš is the masculine form of the numeral 3.
Multiples of 100 are expressed with the cardinal number 3-9 and the word miʔū. For example, 934 is tišan miʔū šlošī biʔarban. Since it ends with "34," this number describes 930 feminine nouns, still exhibiting gender polarity.
Ordinal Numbers and Demonyms
Ordinal numbers express a rank or order of items in a series, or a fraction.
Only 1st and 2nd decline for gender. Other ordinal numbers apply to either gender, and are formed by adding the suffix -ī to the end of a masculine cardinal number 3-10. For numbers larger than 10, cardinal numbers are used.
The ordinal form of a numeral is identical to the form used to describe the part of a whole, so "third," šūlošī, also means 1/3.
The same suffix used to form ordinal numbers, -ī for masculine singular and plural, -īt for feminine singular, and -ūt for the plural, is used to form demonyms for peoples or languages. The word for the language spoken in Canaan, "Hebrew," is kīnaganīt.
Balearic Hebrew verbs, like other verbs in Semitic languages, are based on sets of three to four (most commonly three) consonants called a root. Biblical two-letter roots have generally been re-analyzed with the doubling of the first or last letter to form a traditional triliteral root. The root conveys the basic meaning of each verb, for example k-t-b "write." Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with a series of prefixes and suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as valency, mood, tense, person, gender, and number.
Such categories marked on verbs:
- Two tenses (present, past; future tense is indicated primarily with the present tense and various contextual markers)
- Four voices (active, passive, causative, reflexive)
- Two genders (masculine, feminine)
- Three persons (first, second, third)
- Two numbers (singular, plural)
- Three moods (indicative, subjunctive, imperative)
Unlike English (but similar to other languages such as Spanish), verbs in Balearic Hebrew do not require a separate personal pronoun if the subject is not identified; this is because the form of the verb itself includes the subject.
Hebrew grammarians typically use the root f-g-l (do, make) to demonstrate the particular shape of any specific category of a verbal paradigm. In this article, the illustrative root is k-t-b.
Each particular verb is specified by four stems, called binyanim, a term borrowed from modern Hebrew meaning construction. Each binyan is the pattern of a specific verb as it is inflected for tense, mood, and most generally voice. These binyanim showcase typical Semitic nonconcatenative morphology, in which a series of vowel templates and affixes are inserted in each triliteral (or sometimes biliteral or more rarely, quadriliteral) root. Of the Biblical Hebrew seven templates, only four survive in Balearic Hebrew.
There are two tenses in Balearic Hebrew: the past preterite tense, and the present tense. The past tense is a direct descendant of the Biblical Perfect suffixing conjugation.
There are three moods in Balearic Hebrew. These are the indicative, the subjunctive, and the imperative. The indicative mood is the only mood with two tenses, as the subjunctive does not inflect for tense. The imperative is only used for commands in the second person, and unlike the other moods, has no gender distinction in its conjugation.
The subjunctive is used in that-clauses, and is very versatile and common in the language. It is a descendant of the Biblical prefixing conjugation, which previously conveyed only aspect.
Balearic Hebrew uses the binyanim system to encode voice. The language employs a rich and varied system of voice, with a productive inflected passive binyan, and three active ones. The Biblical reflexive binyan, hitpa'el (התפעל) was lost in favor of a pronominal reflexive, similar to the novel Romance constructions developing in close contact
The system of verb conjugations in Balearic Hebrew has many complications. In this table is outlined the conjugation of a regular verb, k-t-b in all four binyanim for the 3rd person masculine singular. Many verbs in Biblical Hebrew which were classified as "hollow" have been regularized in Balearic Hebrew, its direct descendant. However, many weak roots remain. Regular verbs in Balearic Hebrew constitute basic, triliteral roots with three non-"weak" consonants. Weak consonants are
|Qal||kūtab||he wrote||lūkūtab||he writes|
|D-stem||kīttib||he engraved||lūkīttib||he engraves|
|N-stem||naktab||it was written||lūnaktab||it is being written|
|H-stem||hīktīb||he dictated||lūhīktīb||he dictates|
This table demonstrates the variability and malleability of the Balearic Hebrew root.
Here is a table outlining the indicative for one of the stems, qal for the verb k-t-b "to write."
|Person & gender||Preterite||Present|
As is visible in the chart, verbs conjugate for person, gender, and number. The 3rd person plural has no gender distinction, an innovation from Biblical Hebrew.
The present and preterite stems appear identical, except the present has a prefix lū added. The present tense is a Balearic innovation, and is likely the result of the grammaticalization of the helping verb הלך onto the Sequential Perfect waw-consecutive construction, reduced to only a prefix now.
Binyan qal (a Biblical word meaning "light") is the most common construction for a verb. These verbs are in the active voice, and are only formed with three-letter roots.
This construction is also very productive for loanwords, whose conjugations are based off this construction and the similar piel construction.
This construction consists of typically transitive verbs in the active voice. It is very flexible in meaning. It is called the "D-stem" since the second letter of the root is doubled.
The D-stem is considered an intensifying construction. For example, while k-t-b in its qal paradigm means "write," in this paradigm it means "engrave" or "inscribe."
This construction is an active causative construction. While English relies on helping verbs such as "cause" to express when the subject is causing the object to perform a verbal action, such a situation is expressed through a construction in Balearic Hebrew. For example, k-t-b in this construction means "dictate," as in causing someone to write something.
This stem typically has an h- prefix, hence its name.
This is the only passive verbal stem formation in Balearic Hebrew. It expresses passivity for the qal and D-stem constructions. Certain verbs are only functional in this construction, especially ones that express stative action or some sort of middle voice untranslateable in English.
This stem typically has an n- prefix, hence its name.
In Balearic Hebrew, reflexive verbs are very flexible, with all D-stem verbs having a reflexive counterpart. It is generally used for situations when the subject, instead of performing an action on another complement, performs this action on itself. Another more idiomatic use is a kind of middle voice, most common in the descriptions of actions with body parts. For example, "your eyes open" would be translated with the reflexive voice. Reciprocal voice and reflexive voice are also identical in Balearic Hebrew, whereas English distinguishes the phrase "they tell each other" with "they tell themselves." These two meanings are grammatically indistinguishible in Balearic Hebrew.
The reflexive stem in Balearic Hebrew is an insular innovation, resulting from Latin influence. What was previously another construction, the so-called hitpael, was lost and relexified in favor of Latin-based pronominal verb forms. The conjugation is essentially the D-stem verb with a Latin affix, these affixes descending from Latin accusative personal pronouns. These affixes in Balearic Hebrew are:
|1st||mī / ī||no / on|
|2nd||tī / īt||fo|
|3rd||sī / ī|
In the preterite tense and in the imperative these affixes are prefixes. But, In the present and subjunctive they suffix but are pronounced in reverse. For example, the first person plural reflexive subjunctive for the verb k-t-b is nikatib-on, with the prefix form reversed to avoid a consonant cluster.
The infinitive of a verb has many uses in Balearic Hebrew. In this section, only the conjugation and formation of the infinitive will be discussed.
Depending on the stem of the verb, the infinitive has different vowel formations.
The Latin-based reflexive form seems to derive from the Classical gerund form.
Like the infinitive, the participle is a very versatile non-finite verb form. However, in this section only its formation will be discussed.
Participle conjugate for gender and number. The only participle in Balearic Hebrew is passive in meaning, likely as a result of Latin influence. Verbs of the D-stem will reform to the qal construction for a participle.
Weak roots are what grammarians call Semitic irregular verbs. These roots, while less numerous than the weak or hollow roots of Biblical Hebrew, have undergone several sound changes and regularization which still makes them a hazard for new learners. Roots containing so-called "weak" letters influence the sounds of their surrounds, and therefore their patterns must be given specific attention. The weak root is classified in five different categories based on the position of these weak sounds.
- 3rd Alef
- 3rd He
- 3rd Chet
- 2nd Alef
- 1st Chet or He
- 1st Nun or Lamed
- 1st Yod
- 3rd Stop
The first three categories, categorized by a guttural as the third letter of a verbal root, cause gemination in the verbal affix nearby. For example, the 2nd person feminine singular qal preterite construction of the root h-r-h, to be pregnant, is hūratti, instead of the ungrammatical *hūrahti. This gemination occurs not only with the affixes, but also to the other parts of the root. In addition, these consonants cause a vowel change from <ū> to <o> always. Other vowels are unaffected. For example, using the same verb but in the 3rd person, the construction is horra, instead of expected *hūrha. In the case of a final /h/, it always drops.
The fourth category, 2nd Alef, only has this consonant drop when it is preceded or followed by a stop consonant ([t k b d g]) and by a vowel. For example, bʔb, meaning "to come" has the form būbū for the 3rd person masculine plural qal preterite form, instead of expected *būʔbū.
The fifth category, 1st Chet or He, causes vowel change, and/or gemination in the paradigm. The vowel immediately preceding and following this letter is always /a/. Thus, ħ-b-š, meaning to cover a wound, in the masculine 3rd person singular qal subjunctive is yabbūš, instead of expected *yiħbūš. Here, the vowel is changed from <i> to <a>, and the <b> 2nd radical consonant is geminated as the first is lost.
The sixth category, 1st Nun or Lamed, causes vowel changes in the subjunctive and imperative conjugations, as well as in the H-stem and N-stem. In these instances, where some sort of prefix is attached to the verb radical, the /n/ or /l/ of the verb root drops and causes vowel changes. Like the 1st Chet irregulars, the vowel is almost always changed to an /a/. In the N-stem construction, the /a/ is conserved. For example, the root l-h-ṭ, menaing to burn, in the 3rd person masculine singular H-stem preterite is hahīṭ, instead of expected *hīlhīṭ. Unlike the 1st Chet category, the present marker lū is never changed by these irregularities.
The seventh category, 1st Yod, causes vowel changes. The /j/ drops out of the stem as well. If the preceding vowel is <a>, it is changed to <e>. If it is <ū>, it is changed to <o>. Thus, the first person singular N-stem preterite of the verb y-t-r, to be useless, is notartī, instead of expected *natartī. If such a change would cause two vowels to come into contact with each other, they merge to ī if there is an i, and if there is not, then they merge to o.
The last category, verbs that have the stops /t/, /d/, /k/, or /g/ as their last letter, cause only gemination. These stops drop out of the stem but cause the consonant immediately following them to geminate in compensation. For example, the root b-r-g, meaning to create, in the second masculine singular qal preterite form is būratta, instead of expected *būragta.
Due to its proximity to various non-Semitic languages, the most influential being Latin, Balearic Hebrew has a radically different verbal system than its Semitic relatives, and its mother language of pre-exilic Biblical Hebrew. Many Latin verbs have made their way into the language via two major ways: one, adapting Latin verbs to the phonetic and grammatical constrictions of nonconcatenative morphology, and two, the introduction of various calques.
The Semitic verbal model incorporates foreign verbs by constructing a triliteral root from the concatenative root typical of Latin or another non-Semitic language. These words typically deal with such topics as commerce, war, and diplomacy. For example, the Latin word trādere became loaned into Balearic Hebrew with the abstracted root t-r-d, also meaning to surrender, in the qal construction.
Since most speakers of Balearic Hebrew are monolingual speakers, this loan system never broke down. In Balearic Hebrew there is no alternate paradigm for verbs of European origin, as there is in Maltese, for example.
For words which are more difficult to loan into a Semitic language, a loan translation system has been developed. For example, the Balearic Hebrew verb g-b-r, meaning to go (across), also has the meaning "to translate," a word calqued from Latin transferre, meaning to carry across.
Meanings & Use of Finite Verbs
The Preterite Tense
The preterite is not analogous with the Biblical perfect (from which the preterite descends). The preterite is most often used in narratives recounting events in the past.
The preterite is used to indicate the following:
- An action completed in the past: This use expresses an action that is viewed as a completed event. It is often accompanied by adverbial expressions of time, such as ʔitmūl.
ʔitmūl mūṣattī hafiraħ = "Yesterday, I found the flower"
- Perfect actions: Aligning with English perfect constructions, actions in the past with present relevance.
hatū šūmanta ʔoto = "Now you have heard him"
- A general truth actions which are commonly accepted, present or past.
hatsīforot hūbfū = "Birds fly"
The Present Tense
The present tense is used to indicate the following:
- Punctual present: This expresses an action that is being done at this very moment.
lūkīttibū līho = "She is talking to him"
- Continuous present: This expresses an action that is being done from the moment of speaking, extending into the past or future.
lūgūrartī biyirūšūle = "I live in Jersualem"
- An immediate future: This expresses an action that will be done with a high degree of certainty.
halelū hapot lūdūraštī = "Tonight, I will study"
The subjunctive expresses an imagined, possible, or desired action in the past, present, or future. Its time depends on the tense of the main verb. It is used, almost exclusively in subordinate clauses, to express the speaker's opinion or judgment, such as doubts, possibilities, emotions, and events that may or may not occur. It is almost always introduced with the conjunction ʔašir.
Uses of the subjunctive
Optative subjunctive is when a speaker wishes for something to happen in an independent clause. It is introduced with the particle nilertsū, equivalent to "if God shall will it." For example, "If only I could write!" is the translation of nilertsū ʔaktūb.
Jussive subjunctive is essentially a command for a third person party. It is introduced with the word ʔašir functioning adverbially. For example, "let them write" is the translation of ʔašir yīktibū.
Cohortative subjunctive is essentially a command for a first person party. Like the jussive, it is introduced with the word ʔašir functioning adverbially. For example, "let us write" is the translation of ʔašir nīktūb.
In indirect questions the verb is typically in the subjunctive, though it can be in the indicative if the speaker is sure of the action referred to in the indirect question. All interrogative pronouns can introduce an indirect question in the subjunctive. For example, "I do not know why they are writing" is the translation of lodabtī lūmū yīktibū.
In indirect commands or wishes the verb is always in the subjunctive and introduced by the subordinator ʔašir. The main verb in these contexts deal with such topics as orders, commands, advising, asking, wishes, desires, and recommendations. It does not matter if the two clauses have the same or a different subject, the subordinate one will always be in the subjunctive. For example, consider these two sentences:
- lūrūtsattī ʔašir tībūb libeto = "I want you to come to his house"
- lūrūtsattī ʔašir ʔabūb libeto *= "I want to come to his house"
While English expresses these ideas with an infinitive, and Spanish expresses the first with the subjunctive and and the second with an infinitive, both are in the subjunctive in Balearic Hebrew. Additionally, where English would use a helping verb and an infinitive, Balearic Hebrew uses a subjunctive in a subordinate clause. For example, "You can write" in Balearic Hebrew would be lokalta ʔašir tīktūb, literally "You are able to that you may write."
In characteristic relative clauses the subjunctive is used. These clauses define their antecedent as belonging to a certain character or king, rather than to only state a fact about it. Often, these clauses are used in questions, though not always. Note the following examples:
- sakīfyo, si bīnnik garitħūdūšū, lo hūša ʔit pe = "Scipio, who conquered Carthage, did not do this"
- sakīfyo, si bīnnik garitħūdūšū, si ʔal yīššū ʔit pe = "Scipio, who conquered Carthage, is not the kind of person to have done this"
- het mī si yīššū ʔit pe? = "Is there a kind of person who does this?"
The first sentence is entirely in the indicative, while the other two are both subjunctive. Note how in the third sentence, the interrogative pronoun is offset by the relative pronoun, so it is not an indirect question.
Uses with kī
- Causal Clauses: These are clauses introduced by the conjunction kī. There are many types of these clauses, causal and circumstantial being the most common. A causal clause shows purpose. Often, these are infinitives in English.
būna hagarit kī yīmfūr= "He built the city so that he would rule"
- Circumstantial Clauses: This type of clause offers a description of events at the time of the main verb. These differ from normal temporal clauses (indicated by an infinitive typically) since circumstantial clauses offer more than time-related information about the action of the main clause. Kī can also be translated as "since" or "because."
kī roma tapūgin, bīrriħ hafoflo harab= "When Rome was attacked, many people fled"
Conditions in Balearic Hebrew indicate statements about facts, potentiality, or complete contra-reality. They are always introduced with the particle ʔīn. Here is an outline of the different conditions possible in Balearic Hebrew:
Logical and General Conditions that refer to facts in the present. The if clause is in the present indicative, and the then clause is in the present:
= "If you like cats, then you are smart"
Future conditions that imagine events yet to come. The if clause is in the subjunctive, while the then clause is in the imperative or present indicative:
= "If you (will) go to school, you will learn"
Contrafactual conditions that refer to the present or past and clearly imply that the outcome did not happen because of an unfulfilled condition. The if clause is in the subjunctive, and the then clause is in subjunctive as well.
= "If he were living, you would hear him"
There is no aspectual distinction in these conditions in Balearic Hebrew, but approximations can be made with adverbs. For example, saying "If you had run, you would have been tired," is equivalent to saying "If you ran, you would be tired."
Another category of conditional clauses have to do with comparison. These are equivalent to English "as if," in the sentence "I walk as if I were blind." In these clauses, the clause introduced with as if is in the subjunctive, while the other can be present or preterite indicative.
Another use of the particle ʔīn with the subjunctive is when it introduces a concessive clause. Combined with the particle kī, it has the meaning of "although." The clause introduced by these two particles is always in the subjunctive, while the then clause is indicative. For example, "Although he was born in a small town, he became very wealthy,"
The imperative mood is used for giving direct orders. It has a singular and plural form, with the implied subject of "you." Like the subjunctive, ʔal is used to negate imperatives, not the particle lo. Imperatives are almost never used to command someone of higher social standing. Instead, speakers prefer to indirectly influence actions with the subjunctive. Using the imperative is considered rude and ill-mannered. An example of the imperative:
- Tītarid! = "Surrender yourself!"
Meanings & Use of Non-Finite Verbs
The infinitive emphasizes the idea of the verb by expressing its intensity or certainty. It speaks of the action without regard to the subject or the tense and mood of the verb. In this way, it functions as an adverb, a main verb, a verbal complement, or even a noun at times.
Future Certainty and Commands
In most cases, the infinitive is coupled with a finite verb of the same root. In this context, the infinitive acts as an adverb emphasizing the action of the main verb, or to define it more accurately. The infinitive most often precedes the verb it modifies. This construction is semantically very similar to the Spanish non-periphrastic future tense, and in Balearic Hebrew is a way to convery future time and a kind of command, prohibition, or obligation. For example, the phrase mūtot lūmūtattī, with the qal infinitive and the present of the root m-t-t, meaning to die, means "I will surely die." This construction is always used with the preterite and the infintive.
The infintive can also function as an emphatic or emotive command for an unspecified group of people. For example, from the root s-k-r, meaning to remember, comes the form sūkor, meaning "remember," with the intended listener being of an unknown number or for a general large community.
In the case where an infinitive is paired with a verb of a different root (though sometimes the same to emphasize its meaning), an English translation requires some sort of circumstantial clause, or the preposition "by" to define more exactly the manner in which the action is performed. This use supplants the now inexistent active participle of Biblical Hebrew. For example, using the roots d-b-r (to say), and the root ʔ-l-h (to swear), the phrase dībbirū ʔūlo, meaning they said (swearing) is most accurately translated as "they said by swearing" or "they promised."
Interestingly, Biblical Hebrew used the infinitive of the verb h-l-k to show continuous action. This infinitive grammaticalized as the prefix lū on the also archaic waw-consecutive of the Biblical suffix conjugation, forming the Balearic present tense. Here is an example of the semantic evolution of this construction:
- BH: hālok w-šāpaṭ = (walking) and he will judge
- Intermediate stage: ūlok wišūpaṭ = he will be going and judging
- Balearic Hebrew: lū-šūpaṭ = he judges / he is judging / he will judge
The use of h-l-k to show progressive action is not common in Balearic Hebrew.
As a noun, the infinitive acts very similarly to the Spanish infinitive. It is always singular and there is no definite article placed upon it. If these infinitive nouns were to have a complement, there is no accusative marker placed on it. For example, the phrase "eating meat," uses the infinitive as the subject, with the object of the infinitive being meat. This phrase is translated as ʔūkol būšūr, with the root ʔ-k-l, meaning "to eat." The infinitive noun can also be the object of a main verb, similar to the use of the infinitive in Spanish phrases such as me gusta comer, "I like to eat." It is likely that this use, very rare in Biblical Hebrew, became more common on the islands due to Romance influence.
The Participle and the Verbal Noun
Balearic Hebrew only makes use of a passive participle. This participle occupies the middle place between a noun and a verb. In essence, they are most commonly used as adjectives and therefore do not conjugate for tense or mood. However, unlike pure adjectives, participles deal with action and activity. It indicates the person or thing in a state which has been brought about by external action.
The participle almost always corresponds to a Latin perfect passive participle, or to the Latin gerundive (or verbal adjectives ending in -bilis, -e). Such verbal adjectives indicate a capacity or worth of being acted upon. To exemplify, the root b-r-k, meaning to bless, has the participle miborūk, which can either mean "(having been) blessed," "necessary/worthy to be blessed," or "(which is) to be blessed." Such uses of the participle are most similar to adjectives, and these participles can either be in the attributive or predicative position.
Additionally, these adjectival participles can function as a verbal complement governed by the main verb of the sentence. Thus, it is translated according to the time of the main verb. While Balearic Hebrew uses one participle to express this idea, and English or Spanish approximation would be a relative clause. For example:
- bokka haʔīšū habirūtū = "The woman, who had woken up, cried"
As a verb, participles can also function as an entire clause, acting as a main verb in sequence with another. These verbal participles can express continuous, habitual, or stative action as fixed by context. Frequently, these participles can be translated into English with the word "when." For example:
- mitofūšū hasirogatī likesar, bedūgarha = "Caesar grabbed my arm, and stabbed it"
- dagirūto habagalha, sīnīfil = "And when her husband jumped, he fell"
Note how, since participles can only have a passive or reflexive meaning, the passive agent construction must be employed in the first sentence.
The Verbal Noun
Finally, a participle can take a definite article and function as a noun. This use is somewhat productive for noun formation, and a similar process occurs in Spanish. For example, the Spanish word comida, food, is the feminine singular passive participle of the verb comer. In Balearic Hebrew, these nominal participles almost always require a definite article. For example, miʔobūdū, from the root ʔ-b-d, "to lose," means "loss."
Verb Comparative Table with k-t-b
|Gender and Number||Qal||D-stem||H-stem||N-stem|