[b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Wed Nov 17 17:30:20 EST 2004

In a message dated 11/17/2004 1:42:18 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
yitzhaksapir at gmail.com writes:

> > > Furthermore, it seems the Egyptian phoneme you describe had the
> > > phonetic value /c/.  In Phonologies of Asia and Africa, ch. 22,
> > > Antonio Loprieno writes on this: "Egyptian /c/, which is the
> > > palatal phoneme usually transcribed t_ by Egyptologists, [...]
> > > can be used to shed some light on the value of the phoneme /s/
> > > (samekh), which must originally have been an affricate [ts] in
> > > Semitic."
> I am quoting various of your comments out of order:
> > Some people glibly say the Egyptians wrote
> > only with consonants, but that is only true of the basic sign few signs.  
> I've not read in any study of Egyptian being otherwise.  Could you
> explain where I can read about this?

In the simplest grammar of the Egyptian language.  You are satisfied that 
alphabets like the Hebrew, Greek, Roman, etc. can suffice for most sounds in 
human speech--but even the ones that contain vowels are limited to about 20 or so. 
 But there are some 700 Egyptian hieroglyphs!  Why?  Because most of them are 
bi-literal and tri-literal signs.  Some of them represent entire words but 
others are just "consonant + vowel sound".  Syllables.  Take the glyph, the 
*goose*, which represents, "si".  If one desperately wants to cling to the notion 
that this is just consonants, one can always say that the "i" is like a 
Semitic "yod".  But how sensible is that?  If something is written to represent more 
than one sound, do both of them necessarily have to be consonants?  Anyway, 
philologists of Egyptian deftly get around this by claiming /A/, /i/, and /w/ 
are "semi-vowels"!  You students of Biblical Hebrew have got an easy job 
compared to anyone who studies Egyptian.  The values of the signs didn't remain 
static but changed with time.  Take /A/.  In earliest times, it was a kind of 
"agent" that facilitated the pronunciation of "al, ar, and an"--or "la, ra, and 
na".  Nothing crazy there, because Sanscrit has the exact same thing.  However, 
later on, /A/ came to be vocalized as something like "ee" and then just served 
as a mater lectionis for several vowel sounds.  In Middle Kingdom orthography 
of foreign terms, it still stood for the original value.  For example, 
"Yarpilu" was written "yApiAw".  But, by the New Kingdom, /A/ was used to transcribe 
the sound of "a" (rather "ah").  Once in a great while the old value creeps 
in--but usually not.  How do such things happen?  Well, we still write "talk" 
and "walk"--but do you hear any "l" in pronunciation there now?

> > Anyway, in the writing of Semitic words, /T/
> > represents samekh, NOT tzade--so that certainly must be taken into 
> > consideration.
> I'm not sure what you are saying, but I should point out that Faber, and
> following her, Woodhouse and Loprieno, all accept that samekh 
> originally had the phoneme [ts].  This wasn't Sade, which was an
> emphatic s.  It was as if sopher would be pronounced tsuparu or tsapiru (I 
> guess).
You guess?  What do you think the others are doing besides "guessing"?

 Note that I transliterated an underscored t as t_ above.  If apparently
> your "G47" and "T13" were very similar and "lumped together" (even if
> mistakenly), and G47 had the sound (possibly) of "tzi" this would make a 
> lot of sense if they were used to transcribe samekh and samekh had the 
> sound of [ts] (or, evidently tz).
> > I, personally, cannot see "ts" becoming a "t" by any archaism, false or
> > otherwise, but I can certainly see that happening to "th".
> I'm not sure if this has bearing, but Woodhouse writes (p. 273):
> "Faber's (1982:90) demonstration that fricatives can be perceived as 
> affricates (and, by implication, vice versa) ..."
> quoting Faber, 1982, "Early Medieval Hebrew Sibilants in the Rhineland,
> South Central, and Eastern Europe." Hebrew Annual Review, 6:81-96.
> The following are the other articles by Faber that are quoted, and perhaps
> build that case further.  It might seem odd to rely on so many publications
> of a theory of just one linguist, but every linguist I've seen that has been
> aware of her work seemed to accept it as conclusive and convincing:
> Faber, 1980, "Genetic subgrouping of the Semitic Languages", PhD diss.,
> U of Texas.
> Faber, 1981, "Phonetic Reconstruction", Glossa 15:233-62.
> Faber, 1984, "Semitic Sibilants in an Afroasiatic Context," Journal of 
> Semitic Studies 29:189-224.
> Faber, 1985, "Akkadian Evidence for Proto-Semitic Affricates," Journal of
> Cuneiform Studies 37:101-7.
> Faber, 1986, "On the Actuation of Sound Change: A Semitic Case Study,"
> Diachronica 3:163-84.
> and the above quoted "Second Harvest", in Journal of Semitic Studies 
> 37:1-10.

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