[b-hebrew] Are peh, taw and kaf aspirated in Biblical Hebrew?
shaih at post.tau.ac.il
Mon Jun 2 13:17:38 EDT 2003
Thanks! I was afraid no one would bother to read it...
As for your insightfull comments:
> One point that worries me is that you are talking of aspirated voiced
> plosives. The normal mechanism for aspiration is anatomically relevant
> only to voiceless plosives. There are so-called aspirated voiced plosives,
> their production mechanism is very different and they are
> cross-linguistically very rare, being found only in the languages of the
> Indian subcontinent. They are unattested in Hebrew and other Semitic
> languages, and in Greek and all other languages of that region. So I don't
> think you should assume that the evidence you bring that peh, taw and kaf
> were aspirated should be taken as implying the same of bet, gimel and
True, true... Although if it existed in Sanskrit, it could have existed in
hebrew. In South Africa they have a dialect with 5 (!) aspirated voiced
plosive (see The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, 2nd ed., 1997, p. 168),
and it has even been suggested that the Greek bgd were aspirated (See W.
Sidney Allen, Vox Graeca, Cambridge 1968, p. 28).
The problem is of course the lack of evidence regarding ancient semitic
languages. If you hear something on this subject, please drop me an email.
> You remark that Kutscher's shifts 1 and 2 could be combined into one. This
> seems far more probable to me at least for the voiced plosives. This
> is well attested in many other languages e.g. Spanish where intervocalic
> voiced plosives have become fricatives.
Well, that's his remark. I think what bothered him is that unaspirated
plosives don't just become overnight fricative, so he felt necessary to
divide it into two stages. And as for Spanish, are you *completely sure*
there was no middle stage of aspirated plosives?
> I wonder how these data are affected by the question of when Greek phi,
> chi and theta changed from aspirated plosives to fricatives. Is there
> evidence for the date of this change?
The first clear evidence is from the 1st century CE from Pompei: Greek
"Daphne" is transliterated as "Dafne", with "f" (Vox Graeca, p. 21). But
this change has reached the middle east probably only after Hebrew was
already a dead language.
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