[b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Nov 14 20:47:40 EST 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joseph I. Lauer" <josephlauer at hotmail.com>
>     Whatever its original sound, the Sin apparently has not been
> "correctly" in 2,000 years.  The Shibboleth/Sibboleth problem involved the
> Shin and the Samech, not the Sin, and a Biblical word like Eres
> (ayin-resh-sin) (see, e.g., Deut. 3:11, Amos 6:4, Psalms 41:4) had
> apparently changed to Eres (ayin-resh-samech) by the time of the Mishnah
> Gemara (see, e.g., Peah 7:8 [Aris], Kilaim 6:1, 2 [Aris], Shabbos 62b
> [Arsotam], Nedarim 56a [Arsa]).  In modern Hebrew Eres is now again
> with a Sin, not a Samech, for a cradle, although the word for hammock,
> Arsal, is spelled with a Samech.
>     Joseph I. Lauer
>     Brooklyn, New York

The shift from biblical Sin to mishnaic Samekh is very common (Heres, Yahas,
Kabbes, Happes and more), and was probably influenced by Aramaic (see
'Asar - ten). Modern Hebrew has tended to go back to biblical spelling,
though not in all cases.

It is interesting that Arabic does not have a Samekh. Ugaritic seems to have
had both Sin and Samekh. When Greek adapted the Phoenician alphabet, they
dropped Samekh, but retained Sin (Sigma). Phoenician certainly had Samekh.
Does anyone remember a case of Phoenician Sin (that is, of a Shin being used
for an /s/)?


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