[b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Nov 16 06:57:33 EST 2004

On 15/11/2004 23:51, Karl Randolph wrote:

> ...
>What I noticed is that the uncial Greek forms of sigma and xi are recognizably derivitive from the paleo-Hebrew alphabet both in form and pronunciation, and that the use of the xi was used mostly in the same places as the samekh in Hebrew in the transliteration of Persian names as late as Ezra and Nehemiah. ...

Interesting. I wonder if the author was somehow transliterating 
according to form and perhaps correspondence in alphabetical order 
rather than sound. That would suggest that the Greek alphabet was 
recognised as a variant of the Semitic one.

> ...
>As for the paleo-Hebrew, the samekh was made up of three horizontal lines with a vertical line tying them together, like a Greek uncial xi with a vertical line piercing it, though sometimes the vertical line dropped below the bottom horizontal line. The sin/shin letter looked very similar to a Greek uncial sigma rotated 90° counter clockwise. They looked very different from each other, I do not see how their shapes could coalesce.

They are not that different, apart from orientation which was obviously 
variable: three points joined together. Shin looked like M rotated and 
samekh rather like m rotated, but we recognise M and m as variants of 
the same letter. So it is certainly possible that the shapes coalesced.

On the other hand, Arabic seen as well as sheen could come from Hebrew 
shin. This seems to be supported by Table 5.5 in 
http://std.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n2311.pdf, which suggests a 
development from square Hebrew/Aramaic through Nabataean to early 
Arabic, with samekh being dropped.

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

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