[b-hebrew] Interchange of L/lamed with R/resh in Biblical Hebrew

David Kummerow farmerjoeblo at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 24 18:12:43 EDT 2008

Dear Isaac,

I'm afraid that your semantic analysis comes across to me as simply 
gibberish. The method is pure subjectivity. Like I said, we cannot 
discuss evidence such as Q$R and G$R before you accept the basics. 
However, you dismiss the basics of phonemic analysis. Phonemics is 
indeed a linguistic science despite your claim that it is not: it 
follows a clearly articulated methodology and produces results which may 
be reproduced and/or falsified. A textbook on phonemics or an 
introductory course would answer your question: "How can the elementary 
particle of language be defined in terms of this transcendental thing 
called 'meaning'?"

Every language that I am aware of may be analysed phonemically. Your 
claim is that BH cannot be. That claim requires substantial 
justification in the face of the overwhelming crosslinguistic evidence. 
In any case, BH has indeed been traditionally analysed following a 
method of normal phonemic analysis, the results of which produces a 
coherent linguistic system. I see no reason to abandon this in 
preference for a method which is entirely subjective, is relevant only 
for one language, and produces very questionable results.

David Kummerow.

> David,
> I looked up 'phoneme' and this is what I find "In human language, a 
> phoneme is the smallest posited structural unit that distinguishes 
> meaning". Here lies the devil, in 'smallest', 'distinguishes', and 
> 'meaning', all barely definable or ascertainable. How can the elementary 
> particle of language be defined in terms of this transcendental thing 
> called 'meaning'? And, all in retrospect relative to its change? I am 
> really terribly sorry, but this can not pass for science. I know that 
> phoneme is a YSOD MUSAD in indo-European linguistics, but I truly 
> believe that we should abandon talk about it in Hebrew.
> In the indo-European languages "distinguishing meaning" may be passable 
> but not in Hebrew. If the roots Q$R and G$R have the same meaning, then 
> Q and G are here equal phonemes [but different phones?], but if the two 
> roots differ only slightly in meaning, then Q and G are only barely 
> distinguishable phonemes [something between a phoneme and a phone?]. In 
> Hebrew it is not all-or-nothing. In any event, all this is too 
> bewildering to me and I am afraid that you get yourself entangled in 
> something not worth getting even close to. 
> This is why I prefer the use of 'equivalent'. The letters G, H, X, K, Q 
> are equivalent in the sense that if you substitute them in a Hebrew 
> root, the root retains its basic meaning. Thus, the Hebrew roots G$R, 
> [H$R], X$R, K$R, Q$R are equivalent, spawning words of only finely 
> differentiated meaning. The words QE$ER, 'knot, relationship' and GE$ER, 
> 'bridge', are different words, yet they are still the same. A GE$ER is 
> but something that M-QA$ER, 'connects', the two sides of a river. The 
> root H$R is not in use, but one can not understand what X$R [see XA$R-AT 
> MAYIM of 2 Samuel 22:12, and XI$UR of 1 Kings 7:33] means without 
> understanding that it is but a variant of Q$R. Thus, XA$R-AT (ABIM, is 
> but QA$R-AT (ABIM, clouds tying into each other to form an unbroken 
> canopy. The root K$R spawned the more abstract KA$ER and KA$IR, 'fit', 
> being but QA$IR, 'connectable'. 
> Isaac Fried, Boston University

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