[b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin

Read, James C K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk
Fri Oct 7 10:21:12 EDT 2005

Sorry about the ambigous use of the word 'split'. I was referring to the evolution of 
the common semitic ancestral language into its daughter languages. It is evident that 
this 'split' happened long before moses day and your observations show that we have to 
consider three distinct possibilities:

a)The sin/shin were originally phonetically distinct in proto-semitic and this has 
cascaded into all the daughter languages (very likely)
b)The sin/shin was not originally phonetically distinct in proto-semitiv and the 
occurence of distinct phonemes in their cognates is the product of coincidental 
parrallel evolution of all the cognates except for hebrew (very unlikely)
c)Hebrew is as close as damn it to proto-semitic and sin/shin originally represented 
one phoneme which developed into two phonemes in a sister dialect which became the 
mother of all cognates (possible but unlikely)

All things considered, it looks like you have a good case Yitzhak. As the hebrew of the 
torah is evidently a direct descendent of the hebrew that Abraham spoke and the testimony 
of the torah shows that Egyptian was already a distinct language at this stage it would 
seem that the only reasonable possibility is possibility (a), although I am open to hearing 
any more evidence.

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Yitzhak Sapir
Sent: Fri 10/7/2005 2:59 PM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Ayin and Ghayin
On 10/7/05, Read, James C wrote:
> Sorry for the confusion I probably caused here. I was thinking of another
> document written in hebrew but not the Massorah. What do they call the
> oral torah? I can't remember. Does that begin with 'm' as well?


> Anyway, while I agree that the massoretic pointing represents what was
> traditionally held to be the original pronunciation, it it highly unlikely
> that this is the case. In particular, I would be wary of the vowels.

We're not discussing vowels.  But both vowels and consonants shift their values
through time in all languages.

> Your observation that different roots in the cognates gives strong evidence that
> the sin/shin were already considered separate phonemes before the split. The only
> question that remains is when this split actually happened.

I am not sure what you mean by "split" here.

> Can you unequivocally demonstrate that these cognates were in circulation before
> the early 16th century?

I had brought evidence from the Execration Texts regarding the sh/th difference:

As for Shin/Sin, Daniel Sivan's and Ziporah Cochavi-Rainey's "West Semitic
Vocabulary in Egyptian Script of the 14th to the 10th centuries BCE" notes:
Semitic & is represented in Egyptian by signs with s' and s, eg:
(a-s'-bu in GN [39, cf Heb (es'eb, Arabic (u$bu].
s'a'-(a'-ru' "hair" [187, cf Heb &e(ar, Arabic $a(r, $a(ar]
For further information and Bibliography see Sivan "Grammatical Analysis and
Glossary of the Northwest Semitic Vocables in Akkadian Texts of the 15th-13th
centuries BC from Canaan and Syria", AOAT 214.

Semitic $ is expressed by Egyptian with $, eg.
ma-$:-)ab "scoop" (117) from *$)B
Ma-$a-)-la GN (Thut III, 39) Heb Mi$)al < Canaanite *Ma$)al
(a'-$a-q "to oppress" (40), Heb (a$aq, Arabic (a$aqa.

Does this suffice?

Yitzhak Sapir
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