[b-hebrew] Fw: WAYYIQTOL

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Wed Mar 10 14:00:41 EST 2004


What I rejected was not Hebrew phonological 
reconstruction per se, but a particular theory 
of phonological reconstruction.

Admittedly, the evidence I have is pretty 
sketchy, pretty much restricted to Tanakh and 
the New Testament.

For example, I noticed that the Samech had the  
same shape and place in the alphabet as the 
Greek Xi. Yet in modern Hebrew it has the same 
pronunciation as the Sin. 

What I noticed in glancing at historical 
linguistics, is that when a language is a 
living language and its spelling fluid, 
letters tend not to change their 
pronunciations in response to pronunciation 
shifts, rather spellings tend to change. 
Examples include Classical Greek “thalattes” 
changing to Koiné Greek “thalasses”, and the 
German “Stratte” changing to “Straße”. But in 
a fossil language, where spellings are largely 
frozen, it is the letters that change their 
values in response to pronunciation shifts. An 
example is the Latin “-tion” suffix, where in 
Latin the -t- originally had the “t” sound, 
later in response to fossilized spelling its 
pronunciation changed to “ts” and now in 
English it has the “sh” sound.

Now back to Samech, that it shares a 
pronunciation with Sin is a clue (not proof) 
that one or both letters had changed their 
pronunciations due to Hebrew being a fossil 
language. In Ezra and Nehemiah, 
transliterations of Persian names into Hebrew 
have a Samech in some places where Greek has a 
Xi (some of the Hebrew transliterations have a 
combination letter, X$, similar to the “x” 
sound), but Aramaic had already lost the “x” 
sound so those places that had a Samech in 
Hebrew had a Sin/Shin in Aramaic.

In the New Testament, the transliteration of 
names again indicates that there was a shift 
even then still in progress, with Galilee 
apparently lagging behind Judea (hence Peter’s 
Galilean accent?). In particular, notice the 
bifurcation of the BGDKPT and Sin/Shin 
pronunciations. (These clues are better 
preserved in the Byzantian tradition of New 
Testament manuscripts than the Nestlé 

I run the risk of building a castle on the 
foundation of a molehill, the evidence I have 
seen is that sparse, but as sparse as that 
evidence is, it contradicts the theory of 
Hebrew phonological reconstruction that I 

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org>

> On 10/03/2004 00:13, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >Peter:
> >
> >There was a consonental pronunciation change, 
> >was any of that reflected in the writing?
> >  
> >
> What change in consonantal pronunciation? When? What is your evidence? I 
> remember that a few months ago you thoroughly rejected the usefulness of 
> most of the sources for reconstructing the phonological history of 
> Hebrew. Have you had a change of heart? Or have you constructed 
> different theories, and if so on what evidence?
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

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