Randall Buth ButhFam at
Tue Mar 13 12:30:22 EST 2001

Message text written by "Kevin L. Barney"
>I am trying to find out whether the ayin in Canaan (Kena'an) was
originally a true ayin or ghayin.  Does anyone know?  How would one go
about finding the answer to this question? <

It was `ayin.
Had it been only ghayin it would have been nonsymetrical with semitic
languages and Het, qof and other 'retracted tongue root letters.
More importantly, had it been ghayin it would not have survived begedkefet
expansion where 'gh' existed as an allophone of gimel. Thus ghayin and
gimel would have interchanged often enough to be noticed.

A wholly separate question is how long both `ayin and ghayin existed as
separate phonemes in southern Cana`an. They merged early on in
Phoenician=northern Kana`an. See Joshua Blau, late '70's on polyphony in
ancient Hebrew.

Randall Buth

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list