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

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Nov 28 13:28:36 EST 2006


Peter:

On 11/27/06, Peter Kirk <peter at qaya.org> wrote:
> ... 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.
>
Another example is TLTH for three.

Here's where research is needed, a person who knows both Biblical
Hebrew and Aramaic, is there a pattern that wherever the Hebrew
sibilant is changed to a T in Aramaic, that it is the shin and not the
sin that is changed? My knowledge of Aramaic is too limited to do the
research, but I am curious what the answer would be.

> > ...
> >> $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.

Apparently not everyone agrees, as Lisowsky in his concordance lists
it as a pilpal of &WG.

> >> $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.

Yes, I see it listed in references as a root too, but in light of the
near identical meaning of &G) and &GH and the fact that elsewhere the
final hey and final aleph are at times intermingled, as if the final
hey is a later development, is this a clear example of an original
sin/shin phonemic difference?

...
> >> $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.

1 Chronicles 20:3 used in the same way as $RR to ore crushers, while
Hosea 9:12 "in my gazing away from them" in other words God's removing
his protective watch from them, hence the root is $WR.

> >>...
> >> $KK / &KK
> >>
> >
> > &KK not attested to in Tanakh
> >
> >
> This one is listed as a variant of SKK in Exodus 33:22.

Could also be from the root &WK which means to screen.

...
> >> $N) / &N)
> >>
> >
> > $N) not attest to in Tanakh
> >
> >
> This is a variant of $NH in Lamentations 4:1 and Ecclesiastes 8:1.

Lamentations 4:1 looks like $N) = &N) while in Ecclesiastes 8:1 I
agree with you, in which case the root would be listed as &NH

> >> $(R, $A(AR / &(R, &A(AR
> >>
> >
> > $(R root not attested to in Tanakh, the noun could be a loan word,
> >
> >
> Proverbs 23:7.

I read that as a noun.

>...
> >
> > 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".

That is another question, what was the original pronunciation of the
samekh. That it was not the same as sin/shin can be seen from the
shibboleth incident. By the time we see it in ancient Greece it had
the "X" (ks) sound. Post-Exile it had the same sound as sin.

> ...
>
> > 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.

Wish you good fortune on that. I often deal on the outside where the
people plead inability, and I agree with you that it is mostly
attitudinal. But my situation is where it is not worth arguing.

> ...
>
> > 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/
>
>
The final point is not pointing to history, as we don't have a paper
trail to show a history, rather it is to looking at cognate languages.
There I agree with you that it does help with explaining some obscure
terms and difficult passages. But as I always emphasize, looking at
cognate languages ought to be treated with caution, as it could easily
lead us astray.

Karl W. Randolph.


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