[b-hebrew] Ps. 104:12 - (P)YM

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Mon Jun 21 07:06:44 EDT 2004


>===== Original Message From "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com> 
=====
>HH: It could suggest that the psalm is late, but
>I don't know that it has to do so. If it was a
>loanword from Aramaic, Aramaic still goes pretty
>far back:
>http://members.aol.com/assyrianme/aramaic/history.html

How far back Aramaic goes is not so much the issue. (Although it is fairly 
obvious that you can't have a loanword from a language that doesn't yet 
exist!) As I mentioned in my earlier post, there is a distinction that needs 
to be made between a true loanword and a word that happens to be shared 
between two related languages. In the latter case, it often happens that the 
word is more common in one language than the other, so that, as in our 
example, there may be a good deal more evidence from Aramaic than from Hebrew. 
But if we're talking about a true loanword, there are other distinctions to be 
made. An isolated loan can occur at almost any time that both languages exist, 
as long as it is plausible that they had some contact. This sort of thing is 
even more acceptable if the word is a technical term related to a unique 
invention. In such cases, the language is imported with the object. But when 
languages experience a period of close contact, the proportion of loanwords 
tends to increase dramatically. So looking at one loanword in isolation may 
not say a great deal, but looking at the cummulative flavor of a text is 
somewhat more enlightening.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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