[b-hebrew] mishnaic Hebrew + Deborah

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Thu Nov 24 17:14:48 EST 2011


Karl,

Just 2 points.

1) the Sinai inscriptions seem to have a larger than 22 letter alphabet, 
from memory.  As does Ugaritic.  That argues for the loss of sounds, not 
the development of sounds.

2) The major argument against Hebrew developing the shin/sin distinction 
late in history is that the same distinction is found in Ugaritic and 
the South Semitic languages.  I have read there is an 80%+ match between 
the two groups that have 3 'S' sounds (excluding emphatics).  It is 
unlikely that the match would be that high purely by chance, and there 
is little chance that the similarity comes from contact.  South Semitic 
was in contact with Arabic and Akkadian (and its descendents), both of 
which have 2 's' sounds, but not directly with NW Semitic.  To argue 
that Hebrew originally had 22 phonemes, and then developed some more 
that just by coincidence happened to match up with other branches of 
Semitic seems to be choosing the harder option when the simpler and more 
likely solution is that Hebrew retained distinctions that were not 
represented in writing.

Let's be traditional and go for three points.  Can you point to one 
writing system in the ANE, any time between about 2000BCE and 1000BCE 
that is not polyvalent?  If not, why assume Hebrew should or would be?

Kevin Riley

On 24/11/2011 10:26 AM, K Randolph wrote:
> Randall:
>
>
> There is no question that the alphabet was used by “Asiatics” (Hebrews) in
> Egypt before the Exodus, how long before that we don’t know. Moses then
> wrote Torah long after we have evidence of alphabetic use. That would
> indicate that the Phoenicians learned the alphabet from the Hebrews rather
> than the other way around.
>
> That the alphabet used did not distinguish between the sin and the shin
> indicates that they were considered the same phoneme by Moses and earlier
> “Asiatic” writers.
>
> As for comparative linguistics and the influence of other languages on
> Hebrew before Moses, that is pure speculation with no evidence to back it
> up.
>
> As for changes in the post-Biblical ages, we have some evidence with which
> we can work.
>
> Karl W. Randolph.
> _______________________________________________


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