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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue May 3 19:33:44 EDT 2005


On 03/05/2005 20:20, Vadim Cherny wrote:

> ...
>
>On how many pre-alphabet piel/paal Akkadian examples do you rely? Is the
>difference between pre-alphabet Akkadian piel and paal really semantic,
>beyond mere intensity? If you date "hieroglyphic" Semitic alphabet to 2000
>BCE inscription, I don't think we have a meaningful number of earlier
>Akkadian examples of piel semantically different from paal. ...
>

Well, if you "don't think", I suggest you go away and do your homework 
about this before you continue with your speculative theories.

>... Besides,
>Akkadian might be more developed. In the modern time, post-Soviet Ukrainians
>try to develop their language from scratch, and do so primitively, instead
>of accepting powerful Russian language.
>
>  
>
Please lay off the Russian nationalism. Russian is only more powerful 
than Ukrainian in that it has had more guns behind it. The Ukrainians 
and most of your neighbours hate you Russians, and for very good 
reasons, because you have oppressed them and still interfere in their 
internal affairs. No wonder they don't want your language any more.

>>>>>I likewise explain every morphological form. They all derived from the
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>davar form.
>  
>
>>Just think of any two nouns which have the same consonants (and no
>>matres lectionis) but different vowels, and clearly different meanings.
>>Even an obvious pair like MELEK "king" and MALKA "queen" are
>>distinguished only by vowels (the final he in the latter is a mater
>>lectionis, a late development).
>>    
>>
>
>Why do you think hey is mater lectionis, and not consonantal suffix? I don't
>think this view is universally accepted.
>  
>

It is universally accepted. Stop saying "I don't think" when what you 
mean is that you are ignorant of the facts which every serious scholar 
knows.

> ...
>
>>Well, your assumption is very different to those of most scholars, and
>>myself.
>>    
>>
>
>Would you agree with these points:
>
>- at some time, speechless humans received or developed a primitive language
>  
>

Yes. But this process may have started before our ancestors were fully 
human. It certainly happened many tens of thousands of years ago, so is 
of little relevance to Hebrew.

>- primitive language had a single grammatical form, nouns
>
>  
>
No. We can only speculate, but just as likely the first words were 
commands, verbs in the imperative.

>- Hebrew developed, ...
>

Yes

> ... accumulating grammatical forms
>  
>

No. Hebrew demonstrably developed from an earlier language which seems 
to have had more grammatical forms. Hebrew may have added a few new ones 
of its own, but also dropped many of those of the earlier language.

>- earlier stages of development of proto-Hebrew included progressively less
>grammatical forms
>  
>

No.

>- at some time in prehistory, very primitive proto-Hebrew had a single
>grammatical form, davar nouns
>  
>

No.

>- C'C' and C'C'C' nouns are perfectly suitable for humans beginning to speak
>  
>

Certainly not. Consonants cannot be pronounced clearly without vowels. 
Quite probably vowels were initially more important than consonants. But 
we can only speculate.

> ...
>
>
>You are right, I simplified the matter. Let's replace "davar nouns" with
>"c'c' and c'c'c' nouns." Would you agree that proto-Hebrew at some time
>consisted only of such nouns? This seems fairly obvious. This was a
>single-vowel language.
>  
>

No, I would not agree. This seems to me fairly obviously false.

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/



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