[b-hebrew] Two X letters

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Oct 23 20:32:04 EDT 2007


Observation is overrated since you observe only a microscopic sliver  
of space and time. Then you still need to interpret you observations.  
The claim that Hebrew had two "different" X letters that "merged"  
into the present letter is not worth considering.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 23, 2007, at 7:58 PM, Kevin Riley wrote:

> -------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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