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I am used to פרעה being pronounced as "Paroh" as it has been for the last few parshot, but I noticed today that in Parshat Bo (Shemot 10:11) it is to be pronounced "Faroh". What causes this change? I assume it is a grammatical rule that I don't know. Is it because of some feature of the previous word: פני?

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also shemot 10:7 10:24 10:28 11:3 11:10 etc. – Double AA Dec 31 '13 at 3:31
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The letters בגד כפת have two versions, one with Dagesh and one without. It gets a Dagesh after a closed syllable, or in the beginning of a word.

In this instance, the previous word ends with an open syllable. Therefore the פ does not receive a Dagesh.

What of many instances where we see a word-initial פ receive a Dagesh where the previous word ended with an open syllable? The answer is that the above is a simplification. One also needs to look at trup, the cantillation marks. A trup symbol either is disjunctive and thus divides or is conjunctive and thus joins. The mercha symbol on פני in the preceding word is a conjunctive accent, so the open syllable prevents the Dagesh. Were it a disjunctive trup symbol, then the open syllable in פני would not affect the פ of פרעה.

See here. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/c/ct/cu0203.htm

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In short, the beginning of the word rule fails after a conjunctive open syllable. – Double AA Dec 31 '13 at 3:49
@josh Wow. That is a tricky concept and I will have to put in some real work to understand it thoroughly. Thank you for your explanation. – Mike Dec 31 '13 at 4:57

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