[b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin
kwrandolph at email.com
Sun Sep 18 09:45:57 EDT 2005
----- Original Message -----
From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> On 9/18/05, Karl Randolph wrote:
> > In previous messages concerning getting a PhD in Hebrew,
> > I bemoaned the fact that my lack of an opportunity cost me
> > the chance to learn Ugaritic, Aramaic and Arabic, but that
> > the silver lining is that I instinctively react to good vs. bad
> > Biblical Hebrew.
> You don't need a PhD. To start you off, there is even an
> online Ugaritic course (modeled after Shareware, and
> thanks to Dr. Jim West):
> So now you have texts, a concordance, and a simple grammar.
> To learn Aramaic, I'd suggest reading Onkelos side by side with
> the Torah. This is a later form of Aramaic than the Aramaic found in
> the Bible, though, but it's simple for someone who knows the
> Hebrew bible to follow and learn:
Now I have another problem, and that is the lack of time. I don't
respond to all the letters on this list that I want to for the same
reason. And of the letters I respond to, I often give short,
incomplete answers assuming understanding to only certain
points brought out by the letter I'm responding to. The number
of times I have to respond to misunderstandings shows the
fallacy of that practice.
> > Just because a cognate language has a phoneme does not
> > mean that Biblical or older Hebrew ever had that phoneme.
> This is a complete oversimplification and misrepresentation of
> what I said. I did not say, "Because Arabic and Ugaritic have a
> th phoneme, Hebrew and Aramaic must have had one too." I
> said, "Because in a great number of roots having roughly semantic
> equivalence and the same root letters except for one letter which
> is $/t/th, Arabic and Ugaritic have a th phoneme, and this phoneme
> consistently in those roots reproduces as $ in Hebrew and t in
> Aramaic, while almost all the other Hebrew $ sounds reproduce
> consistently not as th but as $ in Ugaritic and s in Arabic, and
> almost all the other Aramaic t sounds as t in Hebrew, Ugaritic and
> Arabic, it is reasonable and the simplest and most straightforward
> explanation to suppose that perhaps originally there were three
> phonemes in an earlier stage of the language which merged in
> Hebrew to $, $, and t and in Aramaic to $, t, and t." Furthermore,
> given a root in Hebrew and Aramaic, I could guess the corresponding
> root in Ugaritic and Arabic. For example, Hebrew $-l-$, and Aramaic
> t-l-t would suggest (correctly) that the Arabic and Ugaritic is th-l-th.
> And this happens not randomly but for very specific groups of letters
> which have been noticed already in the Middle Ages. I don't know,
> do you have a better, simpler, more straightforward explanation for this
> > Similarly, even if all surviving cognate languages to Biblical
> > Hebrew have a certain set of phonemes, does not mean that
> > Biblical Hebrew ever had those phonemes. There is no
> > evidence from within Biblical Hebrew (Mishnaic Hebrew and
> > later, including Masoretic Hebrew, don't count) that it had
> > more than 22 consonental sounds.
> Biblical Hebrew is inseparable from the Massorah.
I was taught (correct me if this information is wrong) that
even today it is considered good form in a synagog to read
Tanakh in unpointed Hebrew. And the scrolls used have the
Masoretic text only without points. That is the text I have
been using. What I use is not an artificial construction on
my part, rather it is downloaded and I use it unchanged.
> That is,
> when you read Hebrew as given in a Massoretic Hebrew
> Bible, you read the consonants as given in the Massorah. The
> only way to proceed out of this to a non-Massoretic earlier
> stage, is to look at the entire body of DSS Hebrew. While it is
> true that the Hebrew in the MT is a very accurate copy of the
> Hebrew as it exists in some places in the DSS, it is also true
> that if you see the DSS as a general guide to accuracy of the
> consonantal stage, you should look at the entire body of the
> DSS. If you cannot due that because you are not near a
> proper library, you should at least not artificially create a
> Hebrew consonantal text from the Massoretic Hebrew under
> the assumption and pure speculation that the Massoretic
> consonants are ok, but Massoretic vowels and other marks
> are not. That is, if you analyze and read a document, take
> it with all the information it contains, don't artificially and
> selectively divide it in parts to good information and
> irrelevant information.
> > While there is no proof, there is evidence that those who
> > returned from the Babylonian Captivity were more at home
> > in Aramaic than Hebrew, therefore they read Hebrew with
> > an Aramaic accent, including assigning Aramaic patterns
> > of reading graphemes. Therefore, theirs and their
> > descentants' pronunciations are not accurate
> > representations of Biblical pronunciations.
> I cannot accept this evidence because in the past I found
> you had problems distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic:
> Compare also Ken Penner's statements nearby:
> > As for the sin/shin bifurcation, there is at least some
> > evidence that they were once one letter. I discussed this
> > in greater detail before, but there are several words that
> > are sometimes written with a sin, other times with a shin,
> > and there are examples of words from the same root
> > where one derivitive has a sin while another a shin. (The
> > shibboleth story has a difference between a samekh and
> > a sin/shin.) Of course the Masoretic dots differentiating
> > between the two did not exist in Biblical times. Were
> > these two sounds that merged before Moses? There is
> > no evidence.
> I am not talking about odd exceptions. I am talking about
> the general thrust of all the cognate roots taken together.
> > As for the proto-Sinaitic or proto-Canaanitic writing,
> > those examples I have seen are too short to give a clear
> > evidence if they were even Hebrew or which cognate
> > language. Further, there were so many different writing
> > styles that we can't definitively state even the number of
> > letters in their alphabet, as one writer may have used one
> > grapheme while another one significantly different in
> > shape for the same letter.
> What is your evidence that there were "so many different
> writing styles"? How many examples have you seen and
> studied? What does it matter if they are Hebrew or not, if
> they represent the earliest stage of the alphabet (which you
> apparently claim, evidence lacking, originated with the
> > Back in the days when all alphabetic writing was done
> > phonetically, spelling was fluid and languages added and
> > dropped letters as they added and dropped phonemes; or
> > if they adopted an alphabet from another language, they
> > tended to adjust it to their language by changing the
> > values of some letters, while adding and dropping other
> > letters. An example of the latter is how Greek dropped
> > some letters, changed some others to vowels, and added
> > others at the end. The Bible has many, many examples of
> > fluid spelling, but that it from its earliest history that we
> > know of had 22 letters is an indication that those were the
> > consonental phonemes in use at the time Bible was
> > written, no more. While not proof, it is evidence.
> Huh? While Greek added and dropped graphemes, where do
> you see that in Hebrew or Aramaic? In fact, the conjectured
> PS d. (represented in Hebrew as c) is seen at early stages of
> Aramaic to be represented by q and later stages by (. The
> phonemic sound was probably variable, but the set of letters
> remained the same and always numbered 22. Greek invented
> new letters. Hebrew did not until the Massoretic times, when
> $ and & were finally differentiated in the written text.
> > To sum up, I find evidences from cognate languages
> > inconclusive, and the lack of surviving Hebrew writing
> > (very few examples predating the DSS) leaves us unable
> > to prove either side.
> How much DSS have you seen? (I ask following Penner's
> statements in the above link)
> > Notice, I do not claim proof for either set of claims. I just
> > point out that the evidences for your side are IMHO just
> > as weak as for my side, if not more so.
> You can't point out the evidence is weak if you haven't
> studied cognate languages sufficiently to be able to
> understand the breadth of the cognate phoneme evidence.
> This is why I implore you to study the evidence yourself.
> Since it's all available online, nothing's stopping you.
> > Now let's see the article.
> And just to make it clear, the article doesn't go through
> explaining all this. For some linguist to actually take the
> time to write an article in a respectable journal defending
> this theory, someone would have to first point out problems
> in the above theory in such a way that is equally strong and
> equally supported by evidence as the above theory. "If it
> ain't broke, don't fix it."
But that is exactly what I see, the theory is broken. It does not
take into account
1) languages, as well as language families, gain phones and
phonemes as well as lose them
2) except in rare casees where spelling is frozen, changes to a
language, especially one where spelling is phonetic and fluid,
are mirrored in changes in spelling
3) continuation of #2, when new phones and phonemes appear
in a language, new letters appear in the language to express the
new sounds. E.g. Umlauted vowels.
These are historically attested to uses of alphabetic writing,
therefore when we find Hebrew, which had phonetic and fluid
spelling for eight centuries (Moses to the Babylonian Captivity),
when it used only 22 graphemes, that is not only lack of evidence
for the greater number of phones found in later Hebrew, it is also
evidence of lack, that those phones were never in the language
until later. Not proof, but evidence none the less.
> Yitzhak Sapir
Karl W. Randolph.
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