[b-hebrew] Nostratic

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Apr 19 01:20:26 EDT 2007

People, just a reminder that:

a. The idea that Hebrew was the "original" language is a matter of FAITH.

b. What the "original" language might have been (if not Hebrew) is a matter 
of general linguistic anthropology.

Both subjects are related to what we are supposed to be discussing here, but 
only as far as they relate to understanding the biblical text. Please stay 
within bounds, and don't take this discussion further afield.

Yigal Levin


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
To: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 7:02 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Nostratic

> On 4/18/07, Peter Kirk wrote:
>> Yitzhak, thank you for this. But note that in the post you are replying
>> to I did not mention Nostratic, only Proto-Indo-European, whose
>> reconstruction is much more solidly based. Indeed I mentioned Nostratic
>> only in a PS to my earlier post. What I wrote did not at all depend on
>> anyone's Nostratic theories, only on the correspondences between
>> carefully reconstructed proto-forms of various language families.
> It made indirect reference to the original post.  However, like you, the
> substance of the above deals not specifically with Nostratic so much as
> it deals with Afroasiatic vs. Indo-European similarities.  We cannot
> reconstruct Afroasiatic to the point that we can reconstruct any
> similarities with Indo-European.  That is partly what Don Ringe is getting
> at.  The pronouns that you list are also problematic.  For example, the
> second person accusative (enclitic) pronouns are not "te" or "wos" but
> *ka/*ki and *km(/*kn) ("kum/"kin).  As if this is not enough, Ringe writes
> earlier in the article, "Finally, an unpleasant fact of language change
> imposes the most drastic limitation on what can be known.  All
> languages gradually replace their inherited vocabulary with completely
> different and unrelated vocabulary items, and also replace, lose, and
> restructure the affixes with which full words are formed.  'Basic'
> vocabulary is, of course, replaced at a relatively slow rate, and
> inflectional affixes are also resistant to change; but in the long run 
> every
> word will be replaced, and inherited inflectional patterns will be
> transformed beyond recognition.  When the vast majority of even the
> most tenacious items have disappeared, the few remaining cognates
> shared by genuinely related languages will be indistinguishable from
> chance resemblances -- so that the relationship will be undiscoverable."
> Your list of "morphological similarities" which did not include a list of
> Afroasiatic counterparts are no different than chance resemblances.
> Peculiar morphological patterns are useful to determine relatedness,
> but such comparison of irregular or idiosyncratic developments are
> useful only to fine-tune an already substantiated conclusion of the
> language's relatedness.  Otherwise, they are no different than shared
> occurrences or even that the two languages underwent similar sound
> changes due to a period of bilingualism between the two languages.
>> Such things are indeed possible. But, as I think is widely recognised,
>> morphological suffixes of the kind I have been looking at are about the
>> least likely language features to be borrowed between languages even in
>> close contact.
> It is just as widely recognized that Indo-European and Afroasiatic cannot
> be reconstructed as derivatives of the same language and any similarities
> between them are no different than chance occurrences.
> Yitzhak Sapir
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