[b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

gfsomsel at juno.com gfsomsel at juno.com
Tue Nov 16 23:00:14 EST 2004

On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 21:19:45 -0500 "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
> Yigal:
> How do you know that Phoenician did not have an /x/? After all, when 
> they took over the alphabet from the Hebrews, don’t you think they 
> would have retained the same pronunciations as did Hebrew? And it 
> appears to me that as late as Ezra and Nehemiah, the samekh was the 
> Hebrew /x/. (Of course, there could have been changes that neither 
> of us guess at that would make both of us wrong.)
> My take on it is that the difference between the samekh and the sin 
> was lost fairly late, around fifth century BCE in Aramaic, while in 
> Hebrew I’m guessing that it was lost around 300 BCE. Those are 
> also about the times that the sin and shin were differentiated as 
> different sounds. All of these changes occurred long after the 
> Greeks adopted the alphabet.
> Similarly, the Ayen/Ghayen split was after the Phoenicians, also 
> Greeks and Etruscans adopted the alphabet (interesting, the Roman R 
> in form looks more like pre-paleo-Hebrew writing than even 
> paleo-Hebrew which the Greeks adopted, also they retained the Q and 
> the S is a variation on the curvy sin/shin of some forms of 
> pre-paleo-Hebrew, leaving me with the conclusion that the Romans did 
> not adopt the alphabet through the Greeks).
> My read on the alphabet is that the ancient Hebrews had only 22 
> consonants, which they retained to the time of the Babylonian exile. 
> They were pretty isolated from other languages, so did not have much 
> pressure to add phonemes. During and after the exile, especially 
> after the time that most Jews spoke Aramaic in their daily lives, 
> then Hebrew both added phones and phonemes from Aramaic, and lost at 
> least one, if not two or more, that they had before the exile. One 
> of the sounds that I think was an addition was the shin, or rather 
> it was a shift of most /s/ sounds, but not all.
> Karl W. Randolph.


I think you've got the order wrong.  The Hebrew alphabet was derived from
the Phoenician, not the other way around.  It's a simple matter of
historical evidence -- even if, theologically, you would like it to be


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