[b-hebrew] the C-V theory

Nir cohen - Prof. Mat. nir at ccet.ufrn.br
Sat Jul 14 18:58:17 EDT 2012


>> The C-V theory is intriguing, but also appears to have some glaring
>> difficulties. Since there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, there
>> would only be one possible vowel following each consonant. Do you find such
>> a theory workable?

there is no doubt that it is workable. in fact, the ethiopian semitic
languages have adopted exactly such a scheme: C-V with about the same 
set (or even less) of consonants and mostly only 2 V variants, a/ë.
the antiquity of this system is still under debate.

on the other hand, other semitic groups show other vowel systems. in 
akkadian and 2nd millenium canaanite vowel endings represent case 
suffixes, where the two most common akkadian endings seem to be -U 
and -UM. but double consonant words of the format CVC-CU(M) are 
common.

later NW semitic, including hebrew, seem to have undergone a process of 
removal of case suffixes and the dropping of certain vowels (compare with
egyptian). while i agree with jim that final Y may represent -YA or -YAH 
in both ancient hebrew and hurrian, a hypothesis that final -T ( BR)$YT ), 
-M ( $AMAYIM ), -D ( EXAD ), -B ( TOV ), -P ( (OF ) etc (all these 
examples taken from Gen 1) were all followed by consonants at some point
in time may be difficult to defend. 

in particular, the NWS endings -WT,-YM used for plural and -H,-Y,-AH,-W etc 
used as verbal suffixes (assuming they were also used so in biblical times
hebrew) cannot be easily interpreted as "consonants" followed by a vowel.

in other words, language of abecedary, non-abecedary case suffix, or 
non-abecedary non-case suffix types can be distinguished by certain 
differentiated stable syntactic patterns, and BH is usually classified
in the third group.

nir cohen



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