[b-hebrew] logograms--an ode to Hebrew

Vadim Cherny vadim_lv at center-tv.net
Wed Dec 22 09:08:04 EST 2004


> >What makes the third radical in, say, pr-derived roots a suffix? Suffix
is
> >something employed across the words with the same meaning. ...
>
> Not necessarily. In Russian, the various verbal prefixes have up to
> seven distinct meanings, according to Terence Wade's "A Comprehensive
> Russian Grammar".

As native Russian speaker, I would call this an exaggeration, semantic
hair-splitting.

> >... But the same
> >radical in pr and nsh roots hardly relates exactly the same meaning.
Third
> >radicals are no suffixes. ...
>
> It would be an interesting study to see if there are any semantic
> regularities in third radicals. But there is probably not enough
> remaining evidence to decide this question.

There are many such studies. They involve some assumptions and speculations,
which is only natural, since they compare the meanings, an inherently
subjective thing.

> >... Besides, if they were suffixes, a highly developed morphological
device,
> >then the addition was deliberate. ...
>
> Well, this depends what you mean by "deliberate". Yes, it was the
> conscious act of some human to coin a new root and suffix combination.

Hardly a caveperson, what do you think?

> But it is
> demonstrably untrue that complex morphology is not used by primitive
> peoples. On the contrary, the most morphologically complex languages in
> the world are spoken by primitive pre-literate tribes in the Amazon, who
> were living in a Stone Age culture until very recent contact with
> westerners.

But of course! This is the whole point! The Hebrew morphology isn't complex
at all. It is beautifully simple. Each stem is produced by a meaningful
prefix, that's it. This is why I believe this language is artificial. The
empiric languages are clumsy. Hebrew is not.
The Hebrew is economical. It lacks what mathematicians call excessiveness.
Take few letters out of English or Russian word, and  you could still
positively identify it. Take a letter of a Hebrew word--and it immediately
gains a degree of freedom, allowing multiple meanings.
I envisage this geometrically: you need only three dots in three-dimensional
world to fix a line. This is the three Hebrew radicals. Other languages
employ much more dots than needed, 4, 5, 7, 12.
The simplest solutions are the most difficult to achieve. The simplest proof
of a theorem is the most beautiful. One needs a lot of knowledge to distill
the simple language.
Hebrew is just the opposite of Amazon, see.

A root-based language presupposes acquaintance with letters or, at any rate,
distinctive sounds. (Some studies argue for five initial consonants because
many roots with respective radicals from the same part of vocal tract seem
semantically related. I argue for the single-vowel origin of Hebrew.)
Without the letters (distinctive sounds), a root cannot be comprised. At the
very minimum, this is evident in forming three-letter roots from two-letter
cells. Since three-letter roots appeared before the alphabet, it seems that
the letters were clearly known to the root-builder well before they were
distilled into alphabet.

Consider the acrophonic writing. Clearly, alphabet did not exist at that
stage. But both the letter-based roots (words) and the concept of (initial)
letter existed. To me, acrophony seems a way to explain the concept of
letters to cavepeople.

If we accept that the roots are not an arbitrary mumbling, but are carefully
and meaningfully crafted, which seems the case, we are forced to accept that
whoever made these roots, he knew the letters.

Vadim Cherny




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list