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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Dec 23 11:10:32 EST 2004

On 23/12/2004 08:12, Vadim Cherny wrote:

>I assume there are many around here who believe that Hebrew (or its earlier form, say, Ugaritic or even Accadian) is a naturally derived language.
>Anyone, please explain me this puzzle about the roots.
>Perhaps the roots were originally of varying length, and adjusted to three letters only late? No evidence for this. Besides, this would also have been an arbitrary decision.

Actually there is evidence for this, from comparative studies of 
Afro-Asiatic languages. This would not have been an arbitrary decision. 
Once a three letter pattern became established for some roots, other 
roots would have been gradually conformed to this same pattern - a 
practice which is continuing in Hebrew and Arabic as loan words, 
acronyms etc become inflected according to the triliteral pattern.

>Forming stems with prefixes seems a centralized decision. I can imagine how a cavemen one morning decided to add hey to produce casuative, perhaps by analogy with directional suffix hey. But how did he convince others to follow the suit? One could invent a word, and it slowly drifts down, becoming popular, right. But this development seems less plausible with stems.

Vadim, what central committee decided to introduce the large number of 
prefixed verbs in Russian? It was before the days of Soviet committees. 
Did some tsar decree that such words would henceforth be used? Or is it 
possible that someone started to stick prefixes on to existing verbs and 
the patterns gradually became widely used?

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

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