[b-hebrew] Why Semitic languages had no written vowels?
klriley at alphalink.com.au
Wed Apr 27 20:38:30 EDT 2005
The suggestion that the vowels may have been left out specifically because
they were variable is a good suggestion also. If the Canaanite dialects were
like most modern languages [Arabic is a good example] then it is likely that
the consonants differed in predictable ways but not necessarily the vowels.
As, in context, the vowels for any dialect could be supplied with a
reasonable degree of accuracy, writing them may have actually been a
disadvantage. I am not convinced that having a grapheme that may have
multiple pronunciations is in any way an advance on not having a grapheme at
all. There are still modern languages which do not indicate all the vowels,
or fail to distinguish between different vowels, as they are predictable
from context. Which shows that even people who usually write vowels do not
feel the need to write them just because they exist.
For once I almost agree with you. There is a method known as
speed-writing in which the vowels are dropped in order to facilitate such
activities as note-taking. Out of context many of these "words" would be
unintelligible since they could possibly be one of a large number of
words. In context, however, the meaning is generally clear. English, in
particular however, is highly dependent upon vowels. 's' could be 'is'
or 'so' or 'say.' 'I' is nothing but a vowel. Therefore, I would give
your statement a "qualified" approval.
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