Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ט"ו בשבט הגיע

Ok, I'm not sure why this has never bothered me as much as it has this year but that's just the way things go sometimes. It seems no matter where you go, where you turn, the name of this holiday is misspelled. Now, I have long believed that there can never be an absolute set of rules for Hebrew transliteration but I think the misspelling of this holiday speaks to a lack of understanding of one of the rules of דקדוק and so, while I stand on my soap box, I should probably take the opportunity to explain the situation.

So, for starters, I believe it should be Tu BiShvat. I have very rarely seen it spelled that way. I see plenty of B'Shevat, BeShevat, etc. Kudos to for modifying the title of this article to reflect the correct spelling.

Interesting fact: Shevat is the only month in our calendar that begins with a שוא underneath the first letter. As a general rule (with very few exceptions) a שוא underneath the first letter of a word is a שוא נע. The common prefix for "in" or "of" is בְּ, with a שוא under the ב. So, six months ago we had Tu BeAv. However, there is a rule that a word may not begin with two consecutive שוא's. (One day, I plan to dedicate a post to why very often the change from a וְ to a וַ is not מעכב because of this rule.) So, to accommodate this rule the vowel underneath the ב becomes a חיריק. Consequently, because the ש is no longer the first letter, the שוא also becomes a שוא נח. And so we have BiShvat.