[b-hebrew] Initial "Beged Kefet" consonants always have a...

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Fri Oct 21 09:10:10 EDT 2005

 You need to distinguish between phonetic change and phonemic change.  The
changes to Greek consonants was almost entirely phonetic, not phonemic.  The
change of 'beta' to veta', etc, did not require any change in spelling as
the phonemic system of Greek remained intact.  That sort of change has to be
found in transliterations because the native orthography will never record
it.  As for languages 'spelled phonetically' - I still do not find there is
much evidence for such languages.  And a conservative inertia operates in
all languages to prevent changes in spelling.  Therefore spelling changes
are unlikely to ever reflect what is happening, but only what has already
happened.  The best internal evidence for sound change occurs when two or
more sounds converge as you get confusion between their representations in
spelling.  The confusion found in Greek manuscripts with H, EI and I is a
good indication that all three have the same pronunciation.  I would have
thought that non-native speakers would provide good evidence as they are
less likely to know the spelling conventions.  We should not underestimate
the influence the schools had in promoting a spelling tradition at all times
through history.  It is actually very rare to find a language where words
are spelt exactly as they are pronounced for any length of time.  It is
usually a transition time between one convention and another.  Only when the
transition is made can you see how many changes have been made in the
intervening years, and even then the new convention is almost always
conservative and does not represent the language exactly as it is spoken.  I
suspect that the desire for a phonetic writing system is pretty much a
modern obsession that the ancients do not appear to have shared.  I know you
disagree, but if you read the accounts of writing systems that could act as
models for either Hebrew of Greek, [Sumerian, Akkadian, Eblaite, Egyptian,
Minoan, etc ] phonetic representation is not one of their characteristics.

Kevin Riley
-------Original Message-------
From: Karl Randolph
Date: 10/21/05 02:27:34
Dear Peter:
When looking back at the other URLs that you provided, I
noticed that the one that went into the most detail admitted
that much, if not most, of the evidence that Buth and others
like him depend on are from people who were not native
speakers of Greek and dialectal differences. Those are
exactly the types of data that I consider invalid as
evidences for his theory.
Yet he has the hubris to announce that he can determine
exactly what the pronunciations were at each time period.
But for me the biggest reason I questioned his
conclusions is based on a class I had concerning history
of languages, how they change and what evidences do
we have of their changes. The last one is the stickiest one,
in that changes can occur under the radar if spelling is
frozen. Where spelling is not frozen and the language is
spelled phonetically, it is rare for a letter, particularly a
consonant, to change pronunciation. But when the
spelling is frozen, then all bets are off.
When was Greek spelling frozen?
Because of differences of spelling between classical
Greek and koiné, not counting foreign accented and
dialectal differences, it appears that the spelling was
frozen after koiné. Without being an expert in Greek but
just looking at history, the period most likely to be when
Greek spelling was frozen is the Byzantine period.
In closing, he may be right, and I wrong, but I question his
claims because of data I have from other sources. He
needs to show that spellings were frozen to account for
his claims of letter pronunciation changes, and he hasn't
done so. All he has shown are dialectal and accented
pronunciations, as well as attempts to say foreign words
besides the normal changes languages go through during
history. I question, but can't answer.
The same problem with frozen spellings is why I question
ancient Hebrew pronunciations as traditions have passed
them down to us.
Karl W. Randolph.
Ps. Many of my "unorthodox conclusions" I pose first as
questions, and for good reasons. Yes, I have withdrawn
some of them.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
> On 19/10/2005 22:34, Karl Randolph wrote:
> > ...
> >
> > I may be wrong, but I suspect that modern Greek is far closer to
> > Byzantine pronunciation than koiné. I date many of the
> > pronunciation changes that led to modern Greek to the Byzantine
> > period, in other words after the LXX and the New Testament with
> > their transliterations were written.
> >
> >
> >
> Karl, thank you for your comments. I agree that there are all kinds
> of uncertainties in the evidence which Buth and many other scholars
> have collected, and as a result of that different scholars have
> come to different conclusions. What bothers me is the approach
> which you and several other list members seem to take to such
> questions, as in the paragraph above. A healthy scepticism about
> the evidence and arguments presented by recognised scholars is
> good. But what is not good is an assumption that our own intuition,
> based very often on no evidence at all and no coherent arguments,
> is better than the best which scholars can come up with. Well, at
> least you say "I may be wrong". I wish that you and others would
> always say the same when presenting unorthodox conclusions.
> -- Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
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