[b-hebrew] Using an unpointed text

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Aug 25 18:09:53 EDT 2007

On 8/25/07, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ wrote:
> YS: James, like I wrote earlier, several other important objections are
> that the above sentences are not from a closed corpus and you
> have access to native speakers of the language.  These are
> significant differences that mean the two cases cannot be
> compared.
> JCR: Fair enough! Consider the following sentence.
> 'Voglio mngir un pizz'
> Imagine this example comes from a dead language of
> which there are no native speakers to consult. It is
> from a limited and closed corpus. The only information
> you have available from tradition, your understanding
> of possible renderings of consonant strings etc is the
> following:

But see, the argument here is to read the text without
the guidance of tradition (Massora).  So take the following
example, from Safaitic:

1) slm l-D s)r w- (wr l-D (wr h-sfr
2) wgm (l N mqtl qtl-h )l xwlt

This is where you may rightly state that a single sentence
is not sufficient to tell the meaning (although the first case
has cognates for each word or root in the Bible).  You need
a whole corpus and to analyze it carefully.  Recourse to
cognate languages would also help and increase your
knowledge of the grammar and various verb and noun forms,
especially if some are still spoken.  But in the end, you'd
still wish you'd had a vocalized text, because you're still
left in the dark on many words -- just how many ways you
can vocalize each word.

Yitzhak Sapir

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