[b-hebrew] Re: Genesis 1:6-7, 8:1, Waters Above and Below

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jun 21 08:01:37 EDT 2004

On 21/06/2004 04:45, Dora Smith wrote:

>If yim is a Hebrew innovation, why does Arabic have it too?    Or atleast it
>has alot of "yim"'s in it.   or 'im's.   I haven't analysed it to learn if
>that is the way to make a plural.

I meant only that the regular -yim suffix on the words for "water" and 
"sky" is a Hebrew innovation. These are not of course true plurals. Here 
are the forms in some other Semitic languages (taken from Patrick 
Bennett "Comparative Semitic Linguistics" with a simplified 
transcription), covering every known major branch of the Semitic family:

Akkadian: shamu, mu
Ugaritic: shamuma, my
Phoenician: shmm, mym
Achaemenid Aramaic: shmin, myn
Syriac: shmayya, mayya
Classical Arabic: sama', ma'
Ge`ez (Ethiopic): samay, may
Sabaean: shmy, mw
Jibbali: sieh (with a nasalised e), mih

Aramaic and Phoenician also show the plural suffix, but the other forms 
do not. This suggests that the innovation is a bit more widespread than 
just Hebrew, but still localised to a small part of NW Semitic.

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

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