[b-hebrew] Why Semitic languages had no written vowels?

George F Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Wed Apr 27 15:48:05 EDT 2005

On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 14:20:35 -0500 "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Vadim Cherny" <VadimCherny at mail.ru>
> > 
> > ... People
> > recognize that vowels are necessary for modern writing: to my 
> knowledge, all
> > other languages mark vowels.
> > Most certainly, "if" different vowels exist, it is necessary to 
> mark them in
> > writing. Absence of vowels in Semitic testifies to 
> non-differentiation of
> > vowels.
> > 
> > 
> > Vadim Cherny
> > 
> Vadim:
> People _think_ that vowels are necessary for modern writing, but 
> that’s merely because that is the way they learned reading and 
> writing.
> Take a native speaker in English, present him with an English text 
> that has only consonants, and usually in less than a day, he can 
> read that 
> text fluently, with only rare cases of ambiguity, using the correct 
> vowels and stresses. The experiment has been done, and it has been 
> shown 
> that even in modern English, writing vowels is not necessary.
> Consonants are the framework upon which spoken language is 
> constructed. The vowels are the decoration between the framework. 
> Thus 
> vowelless writing still communicates.
> Likewise, a native speaker in ancient Hebrew could read fluently 
> with few ambiguities a vowelless text. In fact, he would have an 
> easier time 
> than modern English speakers who could read vowelless English text, 
> because ancient Hebrew writing had a better corrolation between 
> consonental sounds and writing glyphs. We find it hard because we 
> are not native speakers.
> (The fact that letters were being added to the DSS texts to indicate 
> vowels is evidence for the argument that there were no native 
> speakers of 
> Hebrew, particularly Biblical Hebrew, at that time.)
> Therefore, the absence of vowels in writing does not indicate the 
> absence of vowels and vowel distinctions in spoken language.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> -- 
> ________________________________________________


For once I almost agree with you.  There is a method known as
speed-writing in which the vowels are dropped in order to facilitate such
activities as note-taking.  Out of context many of these "words" would be
unintelligible since they could possibly be one of a large number of
words.  In context, however, the meaning is generally clear.  English, in
particular however, is highly dependent upon vowels.  's' could be 'is'
or 'so' or 'say.'  'I' is nothing but a vowel.  Therefore, I would give
your statement a "qualified" approval.


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