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I am a Ba'al Kri'ah. I am quite confused regarding the rules of "kamatz katan". Another Ba'al Kri'ah explained that a kamatz katan occurs when a kamatz is used in a word (usually a verb) when the root of the verb usually has a cholam. Examples are "shomru" (originally "shomer") "roshei" (originally "rosh") and "chodsheichem" (from "chodesh").

I can understand hwo to follow this rule. However, I understand that the kamatz jatan applies to people's names as well as in "Ochran" and "Kozbi". There may be other rules as well. Overall, I'm confused. Is there any general rule or clear document that explains how kamatz katan works?

  • try Hebrew grammar by J Wiengreen Isbn 0 19815422 4 Element of Hebrew by William Rainey Harper Isbn 0-226-31681-5 – preferred May 23 '14 at 17:54
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    ראשי is a Kamatz Gadol as is שמרו. – Double AA May 23 '14 at 20:35
  • @preferred That is a whole book and you haven't even given a chapter reference let alone a page reference. Are you sure that those two books mention it? If not you may as well just give a link to a bunch of biblical hebrew books somebody could buy and check, but that is really unhelpful to an answer. – barlop Jul 20 '17 at 11:14
  • The Tikkun Simanim notes where there is a kamatz katon, as well as many other grammatical features. That's what I use when I'm looking over leining, myself. – Noach MiFrankfurt Aug 9 '17 at 14:30
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt I just saw an image of a page in judaism.stackexchange.com/a/61701/5275. Scimonster convinced me. I'll see if I can find this in my local bookstore. – DanF Aug 9 '17 at 14:40
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@Msh210's answer is completely correct! If you would still like a book, I would refer you to an entire book on the subject: The ohs and ahs of Torah reading: a guide to the kamatz katan in the Torah. There should also be an explanation in any good Hebrew or Biblical grammar book.

  • Go figure that someone wrote a book on exactly this subject. I'll explore it. Thanks @Noam – DanF May 23 '14 at 20:16
  • That book might be more for modern hebrew than biblical or pre israeli hebrew, so I don't know how much detail it'd go into on the actual rule sephardi grammarians us I understand it has some footnotes related to pre modern israeli hebrew but whether that describes the rule in detail I don't know. Also it's out of print. – barlop Jul 20 '17 at 11:17
  • @barlop I'm not sure why you think a book that has the word "Torah" twice in its title is not about Biblical Hebrew. This book is designed precisely for Torah readers and other non-academics (the fact that it's out of print is unfortunate indeed). If you're looking for a more academic explanation of the precise grammatical rules involved, any textbook of Biblical Hebrew will have a chapter on the rules of the qamatz qatan. – Noam Sienna Jul 21 '17 at 12:54
  • @NoamSienna I heard that it's primarily not regarding traditional ah/oh. Often non-orthodox people (and even some modern orthodox), will lein from the Torah(the Torah), in modern israeli hebrew. And i'm not guessing based on a book title, I heard from somebody that IIRC read it, that if it does mention traditional ah/oh it's as a footnote. – barlop Jul 21 '17 at 17:35
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If you know a letter has a kamatz beneath it, then you know it's a kamatz katan if (and only if) it's in an unstressed syllable that ends with a consonant. (By "stress" I include the stress of a meseg.) Thus, chochma (because of the sh'va nach closing the syllable). There are some exceptions according to the m'sora, and the word batim ("houses"; and its construct forms) is always an exception (if indeed its first syllable ends in a consonant; I'm not sure).

  • Can you provide a source for your answer about closed unstressed? And when you say stress, do you mean only primary stress or do you mean to count meteg as stress too? – barlop Jul 20 '17 at 11:12
  • Can you provide a source for your answer about closed unstressed? And when you say stress, do you mean only primary stress or do you mean to count secondary stress, i.e. meteg, too? – barlop Jul 20 '17 at 11:19
  • @barlop, I've edited in clarification, and I've no source at the moment, sorry. – msh210 Jul 20 '17 at 11:25
  • For Batim, the first syllable doesn't end in a consonant. So it's no exception. The Feldheim Tanach Simanim which marks dagesh chazak as bold, and dagesh kal as regular, marks it as a dagesh kal in the tav. So the kamatz under Bet is in an open syllable. I don't think there is any exception with the kamatz katan rule. – barlop Aug 9 '17 at 6:30
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There's a long discussion in Joshua Jacobson's Chanting the Hebrew Bible: The Complete Guide to the Art of Cantillation (2002), and a shorter but still helpful discussion in the condensed student edition of that same work (2005).

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I am a Ba'al Kri'ah. I am quite confused regarding the rules of "kamatz katan".

The rule in Sephardi hebrew is very simple. A kamatz in a closed unstressed syllable, is kamatz katan. Primary or secondary stress counts. So a meteg (secondary stress) when with a kamatz, denotes secondary stress that makes it not unstressed, so, whether open or closed, it's then not closed unstressed, so it's then a kamatz gadol. I don't think there are any exceptions to this. msh210 tried to suggest one but it's not an exception(as I commented to him).

Ashkenazi hebrew doesn't have two kamatz sounds for the one kamatz mark.

The rule in modern israeli hebrew I don't know the details of, it may take into account the binyan and tense/aspect of the verb when the word is a verb.

Another Ba'al Kri'ah explained that a kamatz katan occurs when a kamatz is used in a word (usually a verb) when the root of the verb usually has a cholam. Examples are "shomru" (originally "shomer") "roshei" (originally "rosh") and "chodsheichem" (from "chodesh")

this sounds like something to do with the modern israeli rule for when a kamatz is kamatz katan. For example Gen 9:21 Aleph Heh Lamed Heh . The Aleph has a kamatz but there's a difference between sephardi and modern israeli hebrew as to whether it's kamatz gadol or kamatz katan. Sephardi hebrew would say Ahola. Modern Israeli Hebrew would say kamatz katan Ohhola and for modern israeli hebrew it's to do with the fact that the word it comes from Ohel has a cholam to make the Oh.

Feldheim use the sephardi rule, whereas I have heard that Koren use the modern israeli rule.

The sephardi rule for kamatz katan is very simple, all over the place online and easily verified on any word in e.g. the Feldheim tanach simanim that marks them.

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