[b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Nov 16 18:44:13 EST 2004


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

> 
> 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.

Most likely it was transliterated according to sound. It is very unlikely that the Greeks and Hebrews had contact with each other late fifth century/early fourth century BCE at the time Ezra and Nehemiah were written. This was well before Alexander the Great, how influential were the Greeks in Judea at that time? Probably unheard of.

> 
> > ...
> >
> >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.

You forget that I often read Tanakh using a paleo-Hebrew font, as a result, to me the samekh and sin/shin look very different from each other. The samekh looked as I described above, the sin/shin like a W. There is no way that even rotating one or both letters to make them look similar.

Karl W. Randolph.
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