[b-hebrew] Assumptions about ANE ages that just don't work.

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Tue Oct 23 19:58:35 EDT 2007

-------Original Message------- 
From: K Randolph 
Date: 23/10/2007 10:43:35 PM 
While the specific tools of biology are different from those for 
Literature and linguistics, a scientific study of literature and 
Linguistics will still be limited to what can be observed. In the case 
Of ancient writings, limited to the extant documents that we can 
Observe. Linguistic theories that cannot be observed, such as the 
Theory that chet was originally two letters that were merged in 
Biblical Hebrew, has neither historical nor scientific evidence to 
Back it up because it is not based on observation. 
Karl W. Randolph. 
I am curious why the existence of two letters corresponding to het in other
Semitic languages does not count as observable evidence?  The theory of what
sounds existed in proto-Semitic is based on the observation of what sounds
are represented in the various languages, ancient and modern.  It is not
proof, of course, but if you make the alternative claim that the other
languages divided original sounds preserved in Hebrew spelling, then you
have to explain why in most cases the same changes were made in the same
words in languages separated from each other.  The merger of het and chet,
as well as 'ayin and ghayin [to het and 'ayin, as in Hebrew] has been
observed in the modern South Arabian languages, where it occurs in some and
not in others.  On the issue of sin/shin, MSA also has 3 S sounds, which
line up with amazing accuracy with the cognate words in Hebrew and the
Epigraphic South Arabian languages. It is difficult to see how Hebrew [or
Aramaic if you want to blame the Aramaeans for introducing the difference
into Hebrew] could have been influenced by the south Arabian languages.  The
observation that the ESA, Arabic and [long] Ugaritic alphabets are in
substantial agreement on the sounds represented [Ugaritic and Arabic lacking
sin] would also seem to be an observable piece of evidence in favour of the
original Semitic phonological inventory being longer than that found in the
Canaanite languages.  It is unlikely that Ugaritic was influenced by Arabic
or EPA, so the most likely explanation, based on the observation of language
change in many other languages, is that they represent retained phonemes
rather than innovations.  I am still at a loss as to how you can claim that
the linguistic theories are not based on observation.
Kevin Riley

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