domingo, 13 de maio de 2012

Plural Loss

Genesis 7:12

וַיְהִי הַגֶּשֶׁם, עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה
vayehi hageshem, 3al ha'arets, arba3im yom, ve'arba3im layla 
And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Instead of (forty days) אַרְבָּעִים יָמִים, Hebrew requires אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם (forty day). Such loss of the plural ending occurs with certain units of time and with most units of quantity. The following may be taken as rules of thumb:

1 - Where the numeral itself ends in a plural ending, e.g.
'30' (shloshim) שְׁלוֹשִׁים
'400' (arba3 me'ot) אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת
'6000' (sheshet alafim) שֶׁשֵׁת אֲלָפִים

Any unit of time that would ordinarily have ים in the plural has to lose this ים. Thus:
שְׁלוֹשִׁים יוֹם, שְׁלוֹשִׁים חוֹדֶשׁ, שְׁלוֹשִׁים שָׁנָה
30 day[s], 30 month[s], 30 year[s]

By contrast, שְׁלוֹשִׁים דַקוֹת, שְׁלוֹשִׁים שָׁבוּעוֹת, thirty minutes, thirty weeks -- the unit of time ends in וֹת

2 - Most other types of unit of quantity lose their ים when combined with
any numeral, thus:
שְׁלוֹשָׁה דוֹלָר, שְׁלוֹשָׁה מֶטֶר, שְׁלוֹשָׁה קִילוֹ
3 dollars (shlosha dolar), 3 meters (shlosha meter), 3 kilos (shlosha qilo)

The word אִישׁ (person) is treated in the same way: שְׁלוֹשָׁה אִישׁ
However, שֶׁקֶל (sheqel, the Israeli currency) is heard both in the feminine singular and the masculine plural:
שְׁלוֹשָׁה שְׁקָלִים, שָׁלוֹשׁ שֶׁקֶל

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