[b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Oct 6 23:49:59 EDT 2005

On 10/7/05, Read, James C wrote:
> Erm, I haven't personally read the massorah but from all those that
> have read it or portions of it I gather that the hebrew it contains
> is more than blatantly evidently much more modern in style and word
> usage.

The Massorah proper does not contain much Hebrew.  It refers to the
additional "tradition" related to transmitting the text.  This includes the
vocalization and cantillation marks, which are obviously not any more
modern Hebrew in style or word usage than the unpointed text itself,
because it is the exact same text.  It also includes various notes on
the text relating to the number of times particular words are used in
the Bible in the same or similar spelling, but these notes are so terse
there is hardly any words used in them at all except for Biblical quotes.

> On the matter of sin/shin I think Karl has good reason to believe these represented
> one sound.

The reason to think they are different is:
1) They commonly represent different roots.  Consider the earlier examples
(which Karl ignored):  $kr - beer/alcohol vs. &kr - reward, or $kl - to lose a
son vs. &kl - understanding (very vague translations).
2) They are mirrored in Arabic also in different roots.
3) The Massorah accurately corresponds $ and & differently with the different
meanings and with the cognate in Arabic.
All of the above suggests that the Massorah accurately transmits Shin and Sin
which were originally differentiated.  While eventually the Sin merged
with Samekh,
the spelling preserved the original different roots.  If you read
Hebrew unpointed you
would probably conclude that the two meanings were associated with each root
but you'd not understand that this is consistent.  Besides, if someone
reads a Sin
as a Shin phoneme in unpointed text, he would be considered illiterate in both
synagogue and public.

Also, while I can sympathize with you regarding the love letters
Stephen has been
sending you, there is no need to resend them to the list.  Just set it
up so mails
from Stephen auto-forward to spam.  If you must resend them somewhere, may
I suggest you resend them to Yahoo:


Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list