[b-hebrew] bgdkpt (was: About Dagesh's)

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Jun 29 11:14:14 EDT 2008

Dear Yaakov,

Rabin's table is different.
Rabin does not reconstruct the sin/lamed/Dad as a triplet, and only
in way of passing mentions the possibility that they were lateral.
Rabin does not note the likelihood that what is now pronounced
as shin was originally an [s] sound.
Rabin only notes in passing that samekh may have been an
affricate [ts].
More significantly, Rabin does not correctly describe the genetic
groupings of Semitic.  The old NWS-South Semitic-East Semitic
groupings are used.  Eblaite is classified as "Northern."  Faber's
article in Hetzron's The Semitic Languages discusses what is now
the accepted point of view.

>> Some of these sounds remained in use for a long time.
>> See Steiner's article here:
> http://sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/JBL1242.pdf
> Yes, I have seen this already, and think it is very interesting.
> However, it refers to two specific changes that are much later than
> what I was talking about.
> (Similarly, one could study the loss of differentiation between het and
> chaf,
> or ayin and aleph in modern Hebrew.)

He mentions it by way of passing when dealing with the merger
of ghayin > ayin.  He suggests that this merger took place before
the spirantization of bgdkpt (specifically, gimel).

> You mention that in your opinion Rabin is dated material.
> Is that also the case for Speiser ? Although the articles in which he
> proposes that Hebrew and Aramaic
> borrowed the bgdkpt phenomenon from Hurrian are from 1939 and his book
> is from 1941,
> I could not find a more recent book on Hurrian language than his.

Start with the following article and work your way back.  On some specific
issues, he may still be the most current authority.  But you have to work
your way back from the most current research available.

> If I understood correctly, your information on Hurrian obstruents is a
> quote. Can I ask from what ?

The article on Hurrian in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient

To add to what Yigal is saying:
Proto-Semitic is indeed a scholarly construction.  A genetic grouping such
as this means that scholars believe that sometime in the far past there was
a dialect -- or group of related dialects -- from which various languages
diverged.  Our ability to reconstruct the language is limited, and beyond
what you'll find in the Cambridge Encyclopedia (there's also an article
on reconstruction of ancient languages in general), Faber in Linguistics
and Biblical Hebrew, ed. Walter Bodine, might also be informative in
explaining the limitations of the reconstruction process.  The reconstruction
of Proto-Indo-European is said to be today something quite different than it
was a hundred years ago.  We're not at that stage yet, even for Northwest
Semitic.  Nevertheless, scholars do believe that there was a community of
Northwest Semitic speakers, and we have limited knowledge of what that
dialect must have contained.

Yitzhak Sapir

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