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

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Tue May 3 14:31:54 EDT 2005

> It seems to me that if you know the words you can figure out what they
> are saying without needing vowels. We must remember that writing
> emerged from speech and not the other way round. There's only a problem
> if the word has two syllables and only one vowel or the word starts
> with a vowel.

English is a bad example. Its writing system is highly excessive,
compensating for loss of vowels.
Modern vowelless Hebrew writing is a better example, but it is not
unambiguous. Most words could be read only one way in context, but
sufficiently many cannot so that the Masoretes needed vowels. Besides, many
ancient writings are short, lacking context.

Also, the fact that it is possible to reconstruct and read much of the
vowelless text does not explain why would anyone develop inadequate
descriptory system.

Vadim Cherny

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