[b-hebrew] Proto-Semitic, was WAYYIQTOL

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Sat Mar 13 23:33:05 EST 2004


Thanks, Dave:

That is exactly what I was taught about 
proto-Semitic.

What I question about proto-Semitic, as it 
was taught me, is that practically every 
phoneme found in modern Semitic languages 
are posited as having been present in 
proto-Semitic. That ignores that languages 
not only lose phonemes, but gain them as 
well. It is possible that Hebrew, with 22 
consonantal phonemes, was the original 
proto-Semitic that survived the event at 
Babel in the third millennium. I find that 
proposition philosophically attractive, but 
in the absence of clear cut documentation 
for or against, I hesitate to push it. It 
is the same lack of documentation for the 
hypothetical proto-Semitic that makes me 
question its validity as a measure of how 
Biblical Hebrew was originally pronounced.

As for the theory of evolution, I thought 
it is a good example for this discussion. 
Just as in developing proto-Semitic, it is 
an extrapolation of what is believed to be 
present processes. What angers me is not 
the theory itself, but the claims of its 
protagonists that it is scientific, when 
demonstrably it is not. In making the 
comment, I did not intend it to proselytize 
for or against evolution (what you believe 
is your own business), just to use it as an 
illustration, then drop the subject.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Dave Washburn <dwashbur at nyx.net>


> Proto-Semitic is a hypothetical ancestor to most, if not all, of the semitic 
> family of languages.  It has been extrapolated based on comparison of 
> consonant changes among Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Akkadian and several 
> others.  There's a good summary of it in the introductory material of 
> Gordon's Ugaritic Textbook.  Just as Latin is the ancestor of the Romance 
> languages, proto-semitic is the suggested ancestor of the semitic languages.
> 
> -- 
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
> Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
> is like getting a kiss over the telephone.
-- 
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