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Re: Proto-Semitic (was Re: markjjones@HOTMAIL.COM)

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Sunday, March 13, 2005, 0:01
On Sat, 12 Mar 2005 21:39:12 +0200, Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>

>> Given that we see -m in Hebrew and Akkadian, and -n in Arabic, I think >> it's reasonable to reconstruct one marker, *-m, and an early >> sound-change >> *-m > -n in Arabic. > >Okay, this is making me actually go to the trouble of looking though my >piles of papers from last year for my notes... :P >Here we go... >(note: this is being translated from Hebrew; apoligies for any >translation artifacts that make it sound weird)
Oh, no! :P Seriously, though, I'm not trying to argue about it. Just expressing my own (rather novice, admittedly) observations.
>Ancient South Arabian: addition of |m| for indefinite. also |n| for >definite (« "han"?) |klbn| vs. |klbm|
Do you know if |klbn| and |klbm| are attested in the same inscriptions and/or texts? If so, then we can safely say that they are two different markers. Otherwise, if |klbm| is attested first and |klbn| later, then it's plausible that there's only one marker *-m which became *-n in South Arabian (including Arabic). The least certain possibility is that |klbm| and |klbn| are attested at the same time, but never together.
>(commentary: i adopted this for my Semiticonlang!) > >There is a universal phenomenon, where sometimes definite articles lose >their power to definitize. Because of this there are those who claim >that what is today an indefinite article (Arabic |tanwiin| -n, Akkadian >-m) once was a definite article.
That's plausible, but why did it only mark the singular in Akkadian? Oh, wait, I can answer my own question. As you said before, it could be used for both singular and plural. So it had no "numeric force" to begin with. Only later was it aligned to one grammatical number or another. Question: Is the *-m element present in the dual? Arabic has nom. -a:n(i), acc./gen. -ayn(i). Hebrew has non-terminal -ayim and terminal -Oyim, for the absolute state only (never the construct state).
>> Also, since it marks only the singular in Arabic and Akkadian, and only >> the plural in Hebrew, it follows that the marker originally had no >> specific number connotation and could be used for both singular and >> plural. Furthermore, the fact that it follows case-markings means >> that it >> was likely an enclitic demonstrative. Hebrew seems to have generalized >> the oblique plural: *-i:-m > -im. > >In my notes, under PLURAL i have a comment about the Hebrew ending: > >|-m| < |*-ma|, the particle "ma"? >The nasal was added late. The original form might be found in the >construct form, without the nasal. >(Hebrew) |devar _ma_| (=some thing (sic)) indefinite article!
There is an indefinite pronominal stem *ma- in Proto-Semitic. I think this is the identity of the *-m ending. So it was probably an indefinite article the entire time. In the plural: devari: ma 'some things' > deva:ri:m 'things'.
>The plural of _alrajul(u)_ (i like transliterating the >sometimes-absorbed |l| as an L all the time) has a long |u| at the end?
Yes, I believe it does. - Rob


Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>