[b-hebrew] T-SADE

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Sun Jul 25 12:02:39 EDT 2010

On Sun, 25 Jul 2010 10:30:43 +0200, "Arnaud Fournet" <fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr> wrote:
> >>> 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.)
> ***
> I forgot to address that point in the previous mail.
> That Egyptian /t_/ becomes /t/ in Coptic proves nothing.
> At first sight, it would seem that the changes t > ts > s are a kind of
> one-way path. But there are plenty of examples showing that these changes
> can happen in the opposite direction.

> 1. For example Indian loanwords into Vietnamese now have t where Indo-Aryan
> had s < PIE *s.

I don't know enough about Indian loanwords into Vietnamese to properly
address this, but the issue of how loanwords are integrated into a language
is quite different from how phonetic processes develop within a language.
One would be unwise to make statements about the pronunciation of Arabic,
for example, based on how Arabic loanwords have been adapted to Persian or
Turkish (or for that matter, Swahili).

> 2. In Uralic some dialects of Vogul-Mansi have -t- for Uralic *s.

Can't comment - don't know enough about Uralic.

> 3. And closer to us maybe, tea or the reflects the Min Chinese equivalent of
> BeiJing cha [t$ha]

The equivalent, not the Mandarin pronunciaiton itself.  "Tea" reflects a
dialect of Chinese where the initial consonant was *not* an affricate.

> 4. Not to mention American English the > da

This development is of course quite common.  It can be seen in the
development of earlier interdental fricatives in the Germanic languages in
general (with the notable exceptions of English and Icelandic), modern
Arabic dialects, Aramaic, and I'm sure many others.  But a commonly
attested change from interdental fricative to dental stop does not
translate into a commonly attested change from affricate to stop.

> So Coptic t < /t_/ proves nothing. There are very good chances /t_/ was an
> affricate with an articulation very close if not identical to /ts/.

It doesn't prove it, but it sure gives cause for hesitation.  The chances
are much more likely than [tʃ] would have developed into [ʃ] or something
similar than it would become simple [t].

William Parsons

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