[b-hebrew] Hebrew with Aramaic, Phoenician etc in scholarly publications

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Wed Jul 16 14:32:49 EDT 2003


>===== Original Message From Peter Kirk <peter.r.kirk at ntlworld.com> =====
>Trevor, I think you are failing to appreciate properly the field of
>comparative linguistics.

How so? Do you seriously think I could have studied Ugaritic without it?

>If so, you are not alone, because it is not a
>fashionable field. But non-specialist students can learn a lot about
>languages and their relationships, and thence about history and other
>fields as well, from the kinds of comparative tables of the same word in
>different languages, all in Latin script, which are found in books like
>"Comparative Semitic Linguistics" by Patrick Bennett. Even if these
>students did know all of the different original scripts involved, using
>them in the tables would obscure the evidence because parallels between
>different languages in the same script would be less visible.

It wouldn't be that difficult to correlate if they knew the scripts.

>Those who
>master this material (not me, I have only skimmed it) will know enough
>about the various languages to make intelligent use of citations in
>dictionaries etc, but only if it is in a script they know.

Perhaps more intelligent than some, but there are a lot of problems in this 
area. To make intelligent use of the comparative data cited in a lexicon, you 
have to take it as a hint, a suggestion, a proposition that may or may not be 
correct. You don't just accept the connection and go on with life. Even if you 
know the appropriate sound shifts and orthographic practices (although it 
boggles my mind why someone would bother to learn the orthography of a 
language but not learn its script), the fact still remains that a comparison 
may be faulty from various other angles that you can only get at from a good 
knowledge of both languages.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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