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

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Sun Oct 23 23:12:24 EDT 2005

-------Original Message-------
From: Read, James C
Date: 10/21/05 20:09:06

This is not entirely true. In both Italian and Spanish you can learn
the rules of pronunciation and apply them to every single word in the
language (except perhaps borrowed words). My Italian and Spanish students
often remark how strange the English language is in that it does not have
a trustworthy spelling system. However, this is only because English
is the product of many conquests.
I think you will find that most languages with an alphabet have a far more
logical system of pronunciation than English does.
The system is logical, but not entirely phonetic.  Take Italian - it uses
two symbols - gl, gn, ci, ch, gi, gh - to represent one sound.  'c' and 'g'
have two pronunciations.  Spanish also has double letters for one sound - ch
and ll - and sounds represented by more than one symbol - c/z, and c/z/s for
most of the Spanish speaking world.  Irish also is logical, and once you
learn a few rules you can pronounce almost any word correctly - but it is
far from phonetic.  That is my main point - most of Karl's theories of how
Hebrew sounded is based on the idea that languages are represented
phonetically.  There is no evidence for that in the time before or after the
Hebrews adopted [or invented] the alphabet.  All the other languages at the
time [even if you include 2000-1000BC as the time span] did not have a
phonetic representation, and it was very common for one symbol to represent
more than one sound.  There are not that many writing systems from that time
 and it would take little time for anybody to follow this up.  It seems this
argument is being pursued more from a philosophical basis than actually
looking at the evidence.  I see no point in continuing unless we deal with
actual 2nd millennium BC examples, as we all know the Hebrews did not have
Italian, Spanish, Finnish or any other modern example to follow.  What they
had was a range of languages where sound and symbol did not correspond. 
Given the range of symbol to sound correspondences accepted quite happily by
surrounding nations, having only 3 symbols in Hebrew having 2 sounds each is
actually a huge step forward.  Compared with Eblaite, Akkadian, and others
it is downright stingy in its use of ambiguity.  I don't believe a case for
phonetic representation as a normal case can be made.  The use Hebrew made
of Phonecian letters - adopting 'as is' and using some for multiple sounds -
is normal for the time.

Kevin Riley

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