[b-hebrew] T-SADE

Arnaud Fournet fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr
Sat Jul 24 23:30:05 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Will Parsons" <wbparsons at alum.mit.edu>
To: <fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr>
Cc: <jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com>; <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2010 4:42 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] T-SADE

>>> 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.
>> ***
>> I would call that kind of argument an "aesthetical" one.  That you can
>> nicely put phonemes in rows and columns is not a convincing proof of what
>> they might really be.  I'm not a structuralist to the point of believing
>> that "structure rules".
> Short of sending a phonetician back in time, there is unlikely to be
> anything that can be called "proof", there's only the matter of lesser
> or greater probability.  Evidence of other Semitic languages is a lot
> more convincing to me than a single Greek transcription where both the
> reading itself and the evidentiary value is questionable.  This is not
> an "aesthetical" argument.

Actually we have plenty of evidence from Armenian, Hurro-Urartian and 
Hittite on how these "letters" were pronounced in Akkadian in particular.
It's quite clear that the propagation of Hebrew phonetics into cuneiform was 
inadequate and unfortunately probably impossible to emend.
Cuneiform $ (=shin) is in fact -s- and Cuneiform s and z (tsamekh) is in 
fact -ts- and -dz-.
Anytime you move out of the Semitic "bubble", then it becomes clear that 
there is a problem with graphemes $ and s which do not have the correct 
It is also clear from Armenian that the emphatic s. in Akkadian was an 
affricate. Place names and other words written with <s.> in Cuneiform 
invariably pop up in Armenian with an affricate.

The "aesthetical" argument was referring to your last sentence:  "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."
"fit that model".
/s - S - z/ is actually /ts TS dz/.


>> In addition, it's well known from Egyptian hieroglyphic that tsamekh was
>> nearly doubtless an affricate [ts] (S p r scribe => t_ p r and not **s p 
>> r
>> as is expected)
> I would disagree about samekh being "nearly doubtless" [ts], certainly
> not on the basis of Egyptian transcriptions, seeing that Egyptian
> phonology is quite uncertain.  (That Egyptian /t_/ indicated an affricate
> seems quite unlikely considering its development in Coptic.)  Even if
> at some point samekh *were* an affricate, that would not be an argument
> that sadhe was also.
>> and as a matter of that nearly all sibilants have been used
>> to write /s/ in Greek or Ethiopian but this precise one. So in fact if 
>> one
>> believes in "aesthetical" argumentation, the conclusion would rather be 
>> that
>> there is "systemic" support for an affricate /ts./ade because tsamekh was
>> itself /ts/.
> This makes no sense.  Are you referring to Egyptian transcriptions of
> Greek and Ethiopic or something else?
I'm referring to the way the original Semitic alphabet has been adapted for 
other languages.

If the original value of tsamekh were /s/, then it's a wonder that this 
letter has *never* been used anywhere from Greece to Ethiopia to Etruria to 
write the sound /s/.
As a matter of fact about everything has been used in Greek to write /s/ 
except precisely that very letter.
For that reason, tsamekh cannot have been /s/, it was /ts/.


> It's a matter of certainly that Greek *did* develop affricates.  They are
> quite common in Modern Greek.  *When* they developed is of course more
> doubtful, but they are certainly seen in Byzantine Greek.  Sources are
> influence other languages, and internal phonetic developments (typically
> as a result of palatalization).
I still do not see the relevance of that point.

If the original pronunciation is sade, how come we have tsade in Codex 
Did Greek develop affricates out of initial s-??

By the way I also wonder how tiade can develop out of sade if you prefer the 
reading tiade to tsade.


>> > 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
>> ***
>> To some extent this is also an argument against emphasis being
>> pharyngeal or velar, or too much upward in the throat, as we would expect
>> this kind of graphic devices for tsade if it were the case.
> Right - I'm not arguing for pharyngeal/velar interpretation of emphatics
> in Hebrew.
Neither am I.
Hebrew vocalism is definitely in favor of glottalization.

Arnaud Fournet

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