Hebrew Stems

Another unique feature of Hebrew (and other Semitic languages) involves building different stems from the verbal roots.

  • The Qal (=light) stem is the basic, unmodified stem.

  • The Piel stem doubles the middle root letter.

  • Other stems: hiphil, niphal, hithpael

Hebrew Stems of Paqad

  • Qal paqad he dealt with . . .

  • Piel piqqed he dealt with repeatedly

  • Niphal niphqad he was dealt with

  • Hiphil hiphqid he caused (X) to deal with

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3 Responses

  1. You’re incorrect that Piel “doubles the middle root letter.”

    I know you wrote the Piel form of P-Q-D (pay-qof-daled פקד) as “piqqed” with two Qs. But in Hebrew, it still has one Qof. The difference in the perfect is the pronunciation (and the vowels, if you’re using a vocalized text), not the spelling of the word.

  2. Josh,
    Thanks for reading. You are right that when writing in Hebrew only one Qof is written.

    In a pointed text the doubling of the middle letter is indicated by the dagesh. Linguists who study comparative semitics sometimes describe the “Piel” as the ‘D’ stem, because originally the middle letter was doubled in pronunciation, producing a closed syllable and thus influencing the vowels. The doubling was sometimes indicated in ancient Akkadian.

    I’m trying to keep the explanations simple, for students who want to learn a few fact about Biblical Hebrew. The transliteration is meant to indicate the pronunciation, not the spelling–unless you consider the pointing part of the spelling.

  3. I think I get what the two of you are saying. Count me as one of those still working on the alphabet, and trusting you to simplify this even more in class.

    Please don’t let me slow down your discussion. You do have my interest and attention.

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