The consonants are for the most part reproduced pretty distinctly, but not the vowels as yet in an equal degree."
According to the Hebrew consonants it might simply be read "the king" (melek), an appellation for the supreme deity of a Semitic state or tribe.
A complication is caused by the fact that the consonants are grouped into three classes, to each of which a special tone applies, and consequently the application of a tonal sign to a letter has a different effect, according to the class to which such letter belongs.
The text of the Old 'Testament consists of consonants only, for the alphabet of the ancient Hebrews, like that of their Moabite, Aramaean and Phoenician neighbours, contained no vowels; the text of the interpretation consists of vowels and accents only - for vowel signs and accents had been invented by Jewish scholars between the 5th and 9th centuries A.D.; the text of the Old Testament -is complete in itself and intelligible, though ambiguous; but the text of the interpretation read by itself is unintelligible, and only becomes intelligible when read with the consonants (under, over, or in which they are inserted) of the text of the Old Testament.
The coeval origin of consonants and vowels had indeed been questioned or denied by the earliest reformers (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin), but later, in the period of Protestant scholasticism and under the influence of one school of Jewish Rabbis, Protestant scholars in particular, and especially those .of the Swiss school, notably the Buxtorfs, had committed themselves to the view that the vowels formed an integral and original part of the text of the Old Testament; and this they maintained with all the more fervency.
This change consisted in the insertion into the original text of certain consonants which had come to be also used to express vowel sounds: e.g.
For reasons suggested partly by the study of Semitic inscriptions, partly by comparison of passages occurring twice within the Old Testament, and partly by a comparison of the Hebrew text with the Septuagint, it is clear that the authors of the Old Testament (or at least most of them) themselves made some use of these vowel consonants, but that in a great number of cases the vowel consonants that stand in our present text were inserted by transcribers and editors of the texts.
In view of all this, the first requisite for a critical treatment of the text of the Old Testament is to consider the consonants by themselves, to treat every vowel-consonant as possibly not original, and the existing divisions of the text into words as original only in those cases where they yield a sense better than any other possible division (or, at least, as good).
The only consonants are k,1, m, n and p, which with the gently aspirated h, the five vowels, and the vocalic w, make up all the letters in use.
The consonants, 30 in number, which are deemed to possess an inherent sound a, are the following: ka, k'a, ga, nga, ea, ca, ja, nya, ta, t'a, da, na, pa, p'a, ba, ma, tsa, ts'a, dza, wa, z'a, za, 'ha, ya, ra, la, s'a, sa, ha, a; the so-called Sanskrit cerebrals are represented by the letters ta, t'a, da, na, s'a, turned the other way.
Agglomerations of consonants are often met with as initials, giving the appearance of telescoped words - an appearance which historical etymology often confirms. IVlany of these initial consonants are silent in the dialects of the central provinces, or have been resolved into a simpler one of another character.
Many of these old soft initial consonants which are now hardened in the modern dialects are preserved in classical Tibetan, i.e.
Soon afterwards, when the language was extended to the western valleys, many of the prefixed and most of the important consonants vanished from the spoken words.
In order to avoid the uncertainty arising from the lack of vowels to distinguish forms consisting of the same consonants (for the vowel-points were not yet invented), the aramaising use of the reflexive conjugations (Hithpa`el, Nithpa`el) for the internal passives (Pu'al, Hoph`al) became common; particles were used to express the genitive and other relations, and in general there was an endeavour to avoid the obscurities of a purely consonantal writing.
Two consonants are not allowed to stand together at the beginning of a word,; hence vowels are frequently inserted or prefixed, e.g.
The consonants, b, d, f, k, I, m, n, p, r, v, z, are as in English; g = Eng.
The tongue is so serviceable a member (taking all sorts of shapes, just as is wanted),--the teeth, the lips, the roof of the mouth, all ready to help, and so heap up the sound of the voice into the solid bits which we call consonants, and make room for the curiously shaped breathings which we call vowels!
Hard consonants were, and indeed still are, very difficult for her to pronounce in connection with one another in the same word; she often suppresses the one and changes the other, and sometimes she replaces both by an analogous sound with soft aspiration.
The naval officer spoke in a particularly sonorous, musical, and aristocratic baritone voice, pleasantly swallowing his r's and generally slurring his consonants: the voice of a man calling out to his servant, Heah!