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

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Mon May 2 13:29:36 EDT 2005

> >- all vowels seem to derive from kamatz through syntactical accent
> >elongation and stress-shift shortening
> I ignore this because it is not a fact but another baseless speculation.

Baseless? Is not it too much for a coincidence that Hebrew vowels "exactly"
match the pattern of syntactical accent elongation and stress shift

If we had gdilah instead of gdulah, I would have no argument. But shuruk
derived from complex vowel holam, which lost stress.

If we had godal instead of gadol, I would have no argument. Yet we see
elongation of kamatz exactly on the place of syntactical accent. Same for
tzere in verbs.

Patah in haial appears exactly where stress shifted away from kamatz in
closed syllable.

A pattern followed by every vowel in the language - how could this be a
baseless coincidence?

> >- if at any time the language was so primitive as to include only davar
> >nouns (highly likely assumption), then then existed a single vowel,
> This is not a "highly likely assumption" but yet another baseless
> speculation.

I see. So the language appeared fully formed with all seven (32, by other
accounts) binyans and plenty of mishkals? Or would you accept that earliest
speaking humans - just like Adam - first needed to name the objects? Look at
hieroglyphs, how many grammatical forms are there, in the developed

> >- diversification of morphological forms explains later diversification
> >vowels
> >
> Not true if by "diversification of morphological forms" you mean a
> process which took place after the western Semitic alphabet was first
> introduced.

I mean no such thing. What I say, is that Semitic alphabet, though invented
for the developed language with various flexions and vowels, inherited the
writing tradition of much earlier single-vowel proto-language. Perhaps, this
concept was preserved by Egyptians.

> >If concepts of script and, specifically, of alphabet are so unique,
> >we imagine the ancients were so stupid as to omit morphologically
> >indispensable vowels?
> >
> No, we should just imagine that they hadn't invented the concept yet,
> just as they hadn't yet invented so many other things which we take for
> granted as part of modern life.
We use machines for transporting stones, they used labor. Ancients wrote the
language, and we write it. But they used more primitive descriptory system,
syllabary, as they used more primitive means of transportation. This does
not imply that their means were inadequate - they were as sufficient as
ours. The vowelless alphabet had to be sufficient for the current language
when it was invented - perhaps by Egyptians.

Vadim Cherny

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