[b-hebrew] T-SADE

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Fri Jul 23 16:19:28 EDT 2010

From: "Arnaud Fournet" <fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr>
Subject: [b-hebrew] T-SADE
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 11:46:39 +0200

> Maybe this has already been discussed before, but I have some questions
> about the affricate or non affricate pronunciation of (T)SADE.
> Cantineau 1954 discusses a Greek manuscrit called Vaticanus of the
> Lamentations supposedly dating back to the IVth century AD, which mentions
> in Greek letters Tau-Sigma-Alpha-D-Eta as name of that letter. He infers
> from that document that the affricate pronunciation must be old and possibly
> the original one.  So I have a handful of questions about the presumed
> authenticity of that manuscrit, its dating and its relevance for TSADE or
> SADE, possible alterations or any reason to conclude in this or that
> direction, or not to conclude at all, or to prefer some other better
> reference for that issue. What should exactly be thought about that issue?

I don't have Cantineau's work to examine, or a facsimile of the Codex
Vaticanus, but the sigla in my copy of the Septuagint indicate that reading
in the Codex Vaticanus is τιαδη/tiade rather than τσαδη/tsade.  Even if the
reading *is* τιαδη/tiade, it probably doesn't support an ancient value of
[ts] for sadhe.  I don't know what Cantineau means by "old" (Biblical times,
or IVth century AD?), but it's very unlikely that sadhe had the affricate
value [ts] when it was spoken as a mother tongue.  The emphatics in
Hebrew as in other Semitic languages form a series contrasting on one
hand to unvoiced series and the other a voice series of obstruents.  As
far as I know, there are two attested phonetic realizations of "emphatics",
velarized/laryngealized type of Arabic, and the glottalized type of the
African Semitic languages (more likely for Hebrew).  In either case, we have
parallel series /s - S - z/ like /t -T - d/ like /k - K - g/.  An affricate
like [ts] doesn't fit this model.

Even if what Cantineau means by "old" is the IVth century AD, the
transcription with ΤΣ/TS (if in fact that *is* in the Codex Vaticanus)
would give negligible evidence in favour of a [ts] in the comtemporary
Hebrew pronunciation.  Consider the problem of the transcriber: he is
faced with a funny S-sound that doesn't really correspond with anything in
Greek.  Of course, in the text of the LXX itself, sadhe (as well as shin)
is regularly transcribed as sigma, since that is the nearest Greek
approximation to both Hebrew sounds (and indeed, most manuscripts of
LXX use σαδη/sade instead of τσαδη/tsade here).  If the transcriber
wanted to indicate the "funny" sound, he had to improvise.  If the
reading *is* TS, that might be taken as evidence that *Greek*, not Hebrew,
had developed a [ts] affricate in the IVth century (which is far more

I mentioned above shin also as being transcribed by sigma.  Apparently,
according to my sigla, there is also an attempt to indicate shin more
accurately in the Vaticanus, ρηχς/rekhs (resh) χσεν/khsen (shin).
This isn't evidence that shin was pronounced something like [ks], only
that the transcriber was trying desperately hard to find something that
would suggest the Hebrew pronunciation.

William Parsons

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