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

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Tue Nov 28 14:20:12 EST 2006

On 28/11/2006 18:28, K Randolph wrote:
> 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.
Here are some examples of words starting with sin and shin in Hebrew 
with their Aramaic cognates, taken from the word lists (based on a 
standard list of 100 words used for word list comparisons) in 
"Comparative Semitic Linguistics" by Patrick R Bennett, rewritten by me 
more or less in this list's standard transliteration:

Hebrew shin || Aramaic shin

$(L || $(L "ask"
XM$H || XM$H "five"
R)$ || R)$ "head"
$M( || $M( "hear"
$Q || $Q "leg"
)Y$ || )Y$ "man"
$M || $M "name"
$LM || $LM "peace"
$R$ || $R$ "root"
$LX || $LX "send"
$B(H || $B(H "seven"
$MYM || $MYN "sky"
NP$ || NP$ "soul"
$M$ || $M$ "sun"
L$N || L$N "tongue"
$NH || $NH "year"

Hebrew shin || Aramaic tav

$MNH || TMNYH "eight"
Y$B || YTB "sit"
$$H || $TH "six" (second consonant)
$L$H || TLTH "three"
$NYM || TRYN "two"
)$H || )NTH "woman"

Hebrew sin || Aramaic sin

B&R || B&R "meat"
(&RH || (&RH "ten"

The interesting thing here is the sheer rarity of sin in cognate words 
in either language. Other Hebrew words in the list including sin are &DH 
"field", (&H "make", &H "sheep" but they do not have listed cognates in 
Aramaic. So here are some more with sin taken from the Aramaic section 
of BDB, words starting with sin only and ignoring words listed as 
Aramaic loanwords into Hebrew:

Hebrew sin || Aramaic sin

&WM, &YM || &WM, &YM "set"
&YB || &YB "elder"
&KL || &KL "consider"
&N) || &N) "hate"
&(R || &(R "hair"

So I suppose you could argue that Hebrew speakers used sin where there 
was an Aramaic cognate with sin, but shin where there was a cognate with 
shin or no direct cognate. But this doesn't explain Hebrew words like 
(&H "make", which has no known Aramaic cognate: why sin and not shin here?

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

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