[b-hebrew] WAYYIQTOL/YIQTOL/WEYIQTOL [was Kamatz katan; ...was: Translating]

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Fri Oct 13 16:46:17 EDT 2006


First of all, I have to thank you for linking to articles that are
open to all to look at. All too often on this discussion list articles
are referenced, but when I click on them, I find them behind a
firewall open only to those who are part of the academic system, which
I am not.

On 10/12/06, rochelle altman <willaa at netvision.net.il> wrote:
> At 01:16 AM 10/11/2006, K Randolph wrote:
> Karl,
> >[snip]
> >Going back to the example of Latin, it is still a living language in
> >that it is still spoken, literature is still written in it, including
> >poetry. True, the uses of Latin are but a fraction of how it was used
> >400 years ago, but even 400 years ago, no one learned Latin at his
> >mother's knee, yet Latin was spoken, literature written in it, some
> >international agreements were written in Latin, and if you go 200
> >years prior to that, almost everything of importance was written in
> >Latin and almost all legal, trade and scholarly discussion was spoken
> >in Latin.
> Latin was the "lingua franca" in the West right into the 19th-century and
> is still a required language in many fields.. You are comparing apples and
> oranges.
That's exactly how I understand Hebrew functioned among the widely
dispersed Jewish population at least until well into the Talmudic
period. Thus it was a sign of an educated person that he use Hebrew in
his communications, even of a wife kvetching to her husband where the
use of Hebrew is more likely to grab his attention.

> >Returning to Hebrew, in all of the examples you gave, which one cannot
> >be an example of use the same way as Latin is used?
> To name just one among those mentioned: The Genizah documents - We can
> hardly expect a wife to write a  letter to her husband complaining about
> his lengthy absence in a dead language, now can we.

Did I ever say that Hebrew was a dead language? Even among Christians,
knowledge of Hebrew is considered a sign of a well educated Christian
(honored more in the breech than practice, even among theologians) as
well as koiné Greek, which would not be the case if Hebrew were a dead
language. The question is, did it live in the same manner as medieval
Latin, or learned at one's mother's knee?

> .... I have a complete
> listing of all documents from the Genizah that are in Hebrew or Hebrew and
> Aramaic oi Aramaic. It runs abut 400 pages. If you want an exact figure on
> how many are in Hebrew, I'll be going over the list in about a week or so
> and will be delighted to let you know when I have completed compiling the
> information that I need. I can run a check on the Hebrew for you at the
> same time...
That would be appreciated, if not too much trouble.

> >As far as I can remember, I have never said that Hebrew was not
> >spoken, rather the evidence I have seen so far is that Hebrew was not
> >taught at one's mother's knee, rather that those who spoke it, spoke
> >it as a legal, high literature, religious, trade, etc. language, one
> >that they learned at school, the same as medieval Latin.
> See the Genizah note.  Kvetching about a husband wandering about in a
> personal letter is hardly "legal, high literature, religious, trade, etc.
> language."
But it is the sign of an educated person. While I have not made a
study of such, I have heard (hearsay) that similar examples exist in
medieval Latin.

To give a similar example, for centuries official Chinese was written
in a language that no one spoke. Local varieties of Chinese languages
developed their own subsets of characters for words not found in that
official language, so, for example, it is possible to write complete
sentences in Cantonese using characters not found in Mandarin. But a
well educated person would consistently write in official language,
even if she were a woman writing to her husband.

> >A final question: while the DSS included documents that were old, I
> >was always taught that the oldest documents were from about 250 BC.
> >That includes those written in Paleo Hebrew script. Is there some new
> >information that has come out?
> Karl, I never expect anyone to read what I write, but when I have written
> on a subject, then I do expect people to do their homework.
When one does not even know about such documents, nor that they are
available to someone not part of the academic fraternity, ... thanks
for giving the URLs.

> Now, what about the Paleo-Hebraic scripts. The Paleo fragmenmts are in a
> completely different script design from what has been dubbed the late,
> even, Herodian period use of Paleo. First of all, take the design used in
> 11QPs.  -- that's the large Psalm scroll -, is a consolidation font. Herod
> was hardly a "consolidator." This fact alone should raise a huge red flag
> about dating that script. I discuss the design of tis script in my guest
> lectures for St. Mary's School of Divinity at St. Andrews.at:
> http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sd/altman_dss.html
> Second, the script design of the Paleo- frags is NOT an archaization; those
> frags are actually archaic. That pushes their date back to at least the 5th
> century and they may be pre-exilic "treasures" that had been safe-guarded
> for centuries..
Though in one of your articles, you mentioned that that was improbable
that they are pre-exilic.

> The "archaeological layering technique" glosses over all slight differences
> -- not only the different script designs used in different areas, but makes
> it impossible to distinguish hands on a document. There are FOUR hands in
> 1QSa and they use the staggering technique, which means that the document
> was (1) the product of a bookshop, and (2) the document was dictated. So,
> with inkwells et al, a bookshop at Qumran is a distinct possibility. BTW,
> it also means that the document is a piece of literature, noit an actual
> rulke for a community.
> May I also suggest that you read Writing Systems and Manuscripts  also at
> St. Mary's:
> http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sd/altman_writing.html
> And it wouldn't be amiss to read the articles on the Orion site: "Some
> Aspoects" and the Report on the Zoilos Votive inscription..
> http://orion.huji.ac.il/orion/programs/Altman/Altman99.shtml
> http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/symposiums/programs/Altman/Altman00.shtml
> >Karl W. Randolph.
> Now, although the variant forms are relevant to the topic of this list --
> after all, the Greek symbol assignments tell us what phoneme was attached
> to what form, I am quite certain that list-members are tired of this
> thread; shall we get back to B-Hebrew?
> Best regards,
> Rochelle

I still have some questions:

Who had the alphabet first: the Phoenicians or the Hebrews? If the
Phoenicians, what writing system did Moses use when he wrote Torah in
the second half of 15th century BC? Is there any documentary evidence
to back up your opinion?

I suspect that the Roman alphabet did not come directly from the
Phoenicians, nor through the Greeks, rather theirs is a cursive that
appears to have come from a different tradition than Phoenician. In
particular the letters R and S give that impression, as they are
closer to proto-Sinaitic examples than are those from Phoenician.

I find that the Yadi example somewhat weak, as the lines are not
straight nor evenly spaced. There is also the question, languages that
invent alphabetic writing systems tend to have one grapheme per
recognized phoneme, while those that adopt alphabetic systems from
other languages, even close cognate languages, tend to find the
adopted alphabet more or less an ill fit. So could what you see
actually be examples of evidences for an ill fitting alphabet that was
adopted from another language?

Again, in one of your articles, you claim that only a small portion of
the people went into exile but that the majority of Jews remained in
Judea. Where is your documentation for that claim? Contemporary
documents that I have seen claim that the land was completely
depopulated, the elites to Babylon while the poor of the land to
Egypt. The contemporary documents lend credence to my claim that it is
very possible that those who returned after the exile were more at
home in Aramaic, even in their pronunciation of Hebrew, than
pre-exilic Biblical Hebrew. Thus post-exilic documents cannot give us
a guide as to how Biblical Hebrew was pronounced.

Karl W. Randolph

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