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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Dec 23 14:54:57 EST 2004

On 23/12/2004 19:02, Vadim Cherny wrote:

> ...
>Why would anyone be concerned in 2nd millennium BCE to conform the existing
>roots to triliteral pattern? There is no evidence for such concern
>whatsoever in any language.

What? Have you studied all 6500 languages? It is a regular part of 
acquiring loan words that their structure is adjusted to conform to that 
of the borrowing language. For example, in Russian the suffix -ovat' and 
-irovat' is used to make Russian verbs from English, German etc verbs.

>Besides, you seemed to agree earlier that the roots bear considerable traces
>of conscious construction. So not groaning.

What I accept is that the triliteral structure of Semitic languages 
postdates the emergence of modern man with full modern intelligence and 
with a fully developed language. And that these words were coined 
consciously. But not that they came from any committee or centralised 
authority, rather that they emerged in the same way as new words emerged 
today, from idiosyncratic usage (why, even Jim's idiosyncratic use of 
"paraphrase" may catch on!) which is gradually accepted by the community 
as a whole. Good example of this process in the recent history of 
English are "gay" for "homosexual" and "wicked" for "good". No committee 
decided on these new senses, they gradually emerged from street 
language. They may be marginally acceptable today, but in the next 
century they may be in mainstream use.

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

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