Why is a chet with a patach at the end of a word pronounced "ACH" and not "CHA"? Example: מָשִׁיחַ

closed as off topic by HodofHod, msh210 Sep 10 '12 at 3:53

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  • As noted in an answer, this is not quite worded correctly. Also, the title should specify that you are referring to the end of the word. – Seth J Sep 10 '12 at 2:38
  • @SethJ "a chet with a patach at the end of a word" ? – b a Sep 10 '12 at 2:40
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    @BA, "the title should specify..." – Seth J Sep 10 '12 at 2:59
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    Does anyone think this is in scope? – Double AA Sep 10 '12 at 3:11
  • Astonishing, I think, that questions pertaining to the Hebrew language and to Israelite history are considered tangential to Judaism. I've read the FAQ, I'm just saying. – Shimon bM Sep 10 '12 at 6:35

Actually, the question is why it is spelt differently, and not why it is pronounced differently at all. If you wanted to say meshicha, you certainly could. That would be a different word, of course, though a related one. It would be spelt משיחה.

For words that end in -ach, orthographic convention has us conclude them with the chet. This is also the case for words ending in -'a (such as רקיע) and in -ah, where the final ה is consonantal (such as אלוהּ).

The reason for all of these is that the final vowel/consonant combination is not preceded by a phonological alef, but by a rounding off of the previous vowel. Hence, mashi(y)ach, raqi(y)a and elo(w)ah.

  • Not all agree with your last paragraph judaism.stackexchange.com/q/2313/759 – Double AA Sep 10 '12 at 3:18
  • @doubleaa, that may be, but Shimon is correct. – Seth J Sep 10 '12 at 4:00
  • Actually, it doesn't matter if I'm wrong: the issue isn't how people pronounce alefs and elided vowels today vs. how they did in the past, but that people did (and do) differentiate between them, that such a differentiation is manifested here, and that its represented orthographically. That last line was really just by way of an example, though different communities pronounce things in different ways. – Shimon bM Sep 10 '12 at 4:49

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