[b-hebrew] Re: Prov. 30:19

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Oct 8 06:08:39 EDT 2003

On 07/10/2003 23:00, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Dear Peter:
>How do you know that it is not Arabic from over a thousand years later that split one root into two? ...
Because such things don't happen, within the rather well understood 
processes of how languages change over time.

>... Even with post-Biblical Hebrew, we see that one letter, sin, was split into two: sin and shin, ...
No, as Trevor has explained. Sin and shin were always pronounced 
differently, but were written with one letter because there was no 
separate letter available for sin.

>... other letters had taken on two pronunciations, and this happened before the earliest example of Arabic. ...
Is it not speulation to suggest at what dates these changes were made? 
There is actually little definite datable evidence for these changes 
from before the Masoretic text, which postdates the Qur'an. Further 
evidence for the dating of phonetic change in Hebrew is of the kind you 
would reject as speculative.

>... So how is it not speculation to claim that Arabic with its split should take precedence over Biblical Hebrew which has no evidence of such a split? Remember, Biblical Hebrew gives indications that it was phonetically written, ...
Where? Chapter and verse please, or some other evidence which is not 

>... so the lack of letters indicates that these were sounds the language lacked.
>To me it appears pure speculation to claim that the forms of one language should take precedence over the forms of a cognate language from over a thousand years earlier, ...
I presume you are referring to the Hebrew forms here. But what Hebrew 
forms? The ones which exist do not support your theories rather than 
mine, instead they are neutral between them. My theories have the 
advantage of some evidence, although I admit it is somewhat remote. But 
there is no evidence at all for your theories. Hebrew evidence takes 
priority over late Arabic evidence, I agree, but late Arabic evidence 
has priority over no evidence at all.

>... especially when there is no other evidence for it, nor any allowance made for how languages change over time.
Karl, it is clear that you have very little idea of how languages change 
over time. Please study some comparative linguistics, history of Semitic 
languages etc, and weigh carefully the evidence used for their 
reconstructions, before presuming to know these things better than me, a 
trained linguist, and than the experts in this field whose theories I 
have summarised.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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