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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Apr 29 19:32:30 EDT 2005

On 29/04/2005 16:36, Vadim Cherny wrote:

> ...
>>Looks are subjective, but the objective historical evidence proves that
>>you are almost certainly wrong.
>Would you please point out that evidence at least broadly? Wadi el-Hol shows
>very limited resemblance to hieroglyphs, and that semblance could result
>from assimilation of style, couldn't it?
I am not an expert on this, but the following quote is from a popular 
book, The Alphabet, by David Sacks, p.37:

"Study has confirmed that every letter of the two [Semitic] inscriptions 
[at Wadi el-Hol] is copied from some preexisting symbol in Egyptian 
rock-writing and/or hieroglyphics. ... We know enough about Egyptian 
rock-writing to track the evolution of its symbols, and several Wadi 
el-Hol letters clearly reflect Egyptian symbol forms of the early Middle 
Kingdom, around 2000 B.C. Yet the Wadi el-Hol date of /carving/ looks 
close to 1800 B.C. The implication: The Wadi el-Hol writign preserves 
letter shapes bequeathed from the alphabet's invention, around 2000 B.C."


>>>It did. Masoretic vowel marks, Arabic diacritics.
>>Which are not used by most modern writers of Hebrew or Arabic script.
>They are fluent, sophisticated readers. I'd like to point again that
>ancients are more like students in their reading skills ...

This is untrue. Ancient scribes were generally professionals who spent 
most of their time reading and writing. Their reading skills in an abjad 
would have been just as good as those who spend most of their time 
reading an abjad today.

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

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