[b-hebrew] comparative historical linguistics was Re: Nun-Tav-Vet root

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Mon Nov 27 19:16:53 EST 2006


Dear Peter,

As the voice of moderation where you can see the evidence from both sides,
let me ask you this question.

It seems that the disagreement over the "shin," "sin," West Semitic,
Biblical Hebrew, etc. is on what presuppositions come to the table? For
example, If I believe that text of the Tanakh (the Law of Moses) was written
during the period of the Exodus of 1446-45 to 1407-1406 BC, then I believe
that Biblical Hebrew began at THAT time. If I believe that Tanakh (Law of
Moses) was not written until sometime later (usually after Rameses II), then
I will include Biblical Hebrew as part of he West Semitic dialects including
Ugaritic. Furthermore, whichever view I go with, these presuppositions will
be reflected in the discussion of the comparative historical linguistics.

It seems that Yitzhak and Karl need to step back and stop the name calling,
etc. Scholarship must be INTELLECTUALLY HONEST. Using phrases which will
cause anger, etc., is WRONG! I no horse in this race, but it seems to me
that unless this horserace sticks to what the texts show, and start using
phrases like "maybe," "possibly" (not the same as probable or absolute),
etc., then this thread has gotten out of hand and should be closed for a
while. What is you take?

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
To: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
Cc: "B-Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] comparative historical linguistics was Re:
Nun-Tav-Vet root


> On 25/11/2006 17:23, K Randolph wrote:
> > Peter:
> >
> > On 11/25/06, Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org> wrote:
> >
> >> On 25/11/2006 06:33, K Randolph wrote:
> >>
> >>> ...
> >>> In West Semitic, but we are discussing Biblical Hebrew, and the
> >>> evidence indicates that sin and shin were one letter with one
> >>> pronunciation in Biblical times.
> >>>
> >>>
> >> Well, if you accept that sin and shin were separate in West Semitic,
but
> >> insist that they were one letter in biblical Hebrew, let's see what
that
> >> implies. It must be one of the following:
> >>
> >> 1. Biblical Hebrew is not related to West Semitic, despite that fact
> >> that you can read and understand West Semitic (Phoenician); I can't
> >> believe that even you insist on that.
> >>
> >> 2. Biblical Hebrew has a common ancestor with West Semitic in which sin
> >> and shin were distinct (this is the normal scholarly position), and
West
> >> Semitic preserved the distinction, whereas biblical Hebrew lost the
> >> distinction, but it reappeared later, before the time of the Masoretes.
> >>
> >> 3. Biblical Hebrew has a common ancestor with West Semitic in which sin
> >> and shin were not distinct; West Semitic innovated the distinction in
> >> ancient times, and Hebrew separately innovated the distinction in
> >> post-biblical times, before the time of the Masoretes.
> >>
> >>
> > There are more options, but one is that West Semitic innovated the
> > distinction apart from Hebrew, and after Hebrew ceased to be a native
> > tongue, people speaking Aramaic applied the Aramaic distinction and
> > rules to Hebrew writing and learned speech.
> >
> >
> That is my option 3, if not option 1. Can it explain all the
> distinctions? Possibly, but I doubt it. How did Hebrews know to
> pronounce their word for "bull" shor rather than sor, when the Aramaic
> is tor? But shor fits the reconstruction from the common ancestor. And
> that's a quick example from memory.
>
> >> ... You
> >> also refer to "the paucity of roots differentiated by shin and sin, as
> >> rare as what is expected if they originally were one letter, not two".
> >> But is this actually true? Just looking at words (not roots, verbs
> >> written unpointed) starting with sin or shin, we have the following
pairs:
> >>
> >> $B( / &B(
> >> $BR / &BR
> >>
> >
> > $BR has evidence that it was two roots, while based on function it
> > appears that &BR and one of the roots for $BR were connected.
> >
> >
> >> $GG / &GG
> >>
> >
> > &GG is not attested to in Tanakh that I could find.
> >
> >
> I have &GG listed as the root of תְּשַׂגְשֵׂגִי T.:&AG:&"GIY in Isaiah
17:11. My
> list is based on the Westminster parsing database.
> >> $GH / &GH
> >>
> >
> > &GH looks like a variant on &G), a final aleph and hey are sometimes
mixed.
> >
> >
> Nevertheless I have it listed as the root used in Job 8:7,11; Psalm
> 73:12; 92:13.
> >> $DD / &DD
> >>
> >
> > Again look at the action, both deal with overturning (in the case of
> > plowing, of dirt, not other people)
> >
> >
> >> $WX / &WX
> >>
> >
> > &WX is a happax, probably a copyist error for &YX
> >
> >
> >> $W+ / &W+
> >> $WR / &WR
> >>
> >
> > &WR not attested to
> >
> >
> For this one I have two homonyms listed, each a hapax, "contend" at
> Hosea 9:12 and "saw" at 1 Chronicles 20:3.
> >> $XH / &XH
> >>
> >
> > Both have the same meaning, indicating same root
> >
> >
> >> $X+ / &X+
> >> $XQ / &XQ
> >> $YX, $IYXFH / &YX, $IYXFH
> >>
> >
> > Both have the same meaning, indicating same root
> >
> >
> >> $KK / &KK
> >>
> >
> > &KK not attested to in Tanakh
> >
> >
> This one is listed as a variant of SKK in Exodus 33:22.
> >> $KL / &KL
> >> $KR / &KR
> >> $N) / &N)
> >>
> >
> > $N) not attest to in Tanakh
> >
> >
> This is a variant of $NH in Lamentations 4:1 and Ecclesiastes 8:1.
> >> $(R, $A(AR / &(R, &A(AR
> >>
> >
> > $(R root not attested to in Tanakh, the noun could be a loan word,
> >
> >
> Proverbs 23:7.
> >> $QD / &QD
> >>
> >
> > Both have the same meaning, indicating same root
> >
> >
> >> $QR / &QR
> >>
> >
> > &QR is a happax for applying mascara (even the English word is
> > related), but is not applying makeup a type of deception?
> >
> >
> >> $RH, $FRFH / &RH, &FRFH
> >> $RR / &RR
> >>
> >
> > ...
> >
> >> Now I accept that there are many roots in biblical Hebrew which are
> >> homonyms (although most of these are easily explainable by
hypothesising
> >> loss of phonemes from earlier forms of the language), also that some of
> >> the pairs I have listed may not be clearly semantically distinct (I
> >> haven't looked at definitions, only a list of lemmas). But your
> >> hypothesis would have to explain not only why there are so many of
these
> >> pairs but also how they came to split apart in a consistent way when
(on
> >> your hypothesis) sin and shin split apart.
> >>
> >>
> > My hypothesis, that in Hebrew the split was applied from another
> > language, does explain  the consistency of that split in both Hebrew
> > and other cognate languages. It also explains the fairly high
> > percentage of cases where the sin and shin denote the same meaning.
> >
> >
> >> I note also the extreme rarity of words starting with sin - lamed,
which
> >> to me is most easily explained by avoidance of two lateral sounds
> >> together, thus strongly suggesting that sin had some kind of lateral
> >> sound at the time when sin and shin were distinguished.
> >>
> >
> > If you include samekh as having the same pronunciation as sin, they
> > are not that uncommon.
> >
>
> I don't. Well, by late biblical times samekh and sin had the same
> pronunciation, and consider also the shibboleth incident, but in earlier
> times they were distinct letters, with sin very likely being a lateral
> fricative (like Welsh "ll"). This explains why Hebrew Kasdim (with sin)
> is English Chaldeans - in Akkadian I think this letter was sometimes
> transcribed as "s" and sometimes as "l".
> ...
>
> >> Yes, linguists and language learners have to be trained to recognise
and
> >> produce phones from previously unfamiliar languages, and after a
certain
> >> age this becomes more difficult. Like learning Hebrew, it is difficult,
> >> but not impossible. That is why I reject your "some people can't",
> >> unless because of specific disability.
> >>
> >>
> > I'll admit that some of the "can't" is attitudinal, but it still
> > results in a can't.
> >
> >
> Not to people whose job is to change attitudes, which in fact should be
> part of any good teacher's job.
> ...
>
> > I still think that a lot of the speculation concerning linguistic
> > history is irrelevant to the study of Biblical Hebrew, because
> > ultimately we deal with the text as we have it. The language history
> > won't change what we have.
> >
> >
> Yes, maybe you are right here. But I think it can help us with
> explaining some obscure words, and perhaps in finding obscure homonyms.
>
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
> Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
> Website: http://www.qaya.org/
>
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>


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