[b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sun Nov 14 13:02:58 EST 2004

On 14/11/2004 17:21, trepp at telus.net wrote:

> ...
>As to English [ch], I first noticed how many languages do not have it. Then I 
>noticed that, outside of the Far East (China, etc.), the only languages 
>featuring it that I yet knew of were Slavic, except for Latin - as in [c] 
>before [i] or [e] - Italian - in the same manner as in Latin (though with some 
>exceptional additional occurences), - and English.

Indeed not every language has this sound. But a large number do. Here 
are some that I know of: Spanish, of course, but that may go with 
Italian in your mind. German, although written as a tetragraph (as in 
the final consonant of "Deutsch") or a pentagraph (as in at the end of 
"Delitzsch"). All Turkic languages. Persian/Farsi. Most Indic languages, 
I think, with two variants (aspirated and unaspirated). This is 
certainly not a rare sound.

>I soon noticed how Teyth could be seen as a Taw leaning in the direction of 
>English [ch]. It is cut too short of the degree of morphing (away from Taw) 
>that characterizes English [ch], perhaps, for this phonetic kinship to at once 
>be seen. I wonder to what degree the breath in Teyth might originally have 
>differed from that in Taw. As I have found with all alphabetical characters in 
>general: each character was originally assigned its own exclusive phonetic 
>value, and the pairing of two characters to a single sound point to the 
>antiquity of the lettering system, and to changes in speach without a parallel 
>alphabet reform.

It is possible, I suppose, that the original sound of Hebrew Tet was 
like English ch, a modified t sound. But it is I think more likely that 
it was like the Arabic letter which it correponds with, with is a 
pharyngealised t.

>This got me wondering (if not actually expecting) whether the greater degree of 
>breath in Sin than in Samek (=[s]), might not properly signify a possible root 
>of the [s]-morpheme in English "measure". Interestingly enough, this sound, 
>too, I found missing from many languages' phonology, but present in French, 
>English, and Slavic languages. 
This is an interesting sound and probably rarer than English ch. 
Interestingly, it is present as a distinct phoneme, but extremely rare, 
in languages as diverse as English, Turkish and Persian/Farsi. It is I 
suppose possible that this was the original sound of sin (it is after 
all a voiced variant of the sound of shin), but I don't know of any 
evidence for this. Do you?

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

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