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

From:Rob Haden <magwich78@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 8, 2005, 20:41
On Tue, 8 Mar 2005 20:58:23 +0100, Steven Williams <feurieaux@...>

>--- Rob Haden <magwich78@...> wrote: >> >> It seems typologically unlikely that Semitic had >> /ts/, /dz/, and /S/, but not /s/ (if not also /z/). > >I also have heard from one source or another that >there was an opposition between laminal and apical [s] >in PS, which may explain a few things. I like the >theory that *[S] was *[s] better; it makes more sense, >typologically. Or we could just accept that there was >a three-way split between *[ts], *[dz] and *[S] and >move on. There're weirder phonologies out there...
Sorry, what's the difference between laminal and apical? If there was */ts/, */dz/, and */s/, then we could say that */K/ became /S/ in Arabic (rather than merging with /S/). However, the South Arabian languages have both /K/ and /S/. Perhaps */s/ > /S/, */ts/ > /s/, and */dz/ > /z/ there. But what would cause /s/ to become /S/?
>> One interesting part of Semitic morphology is in its >> verbal system. > >Hoo yeah... :) > >> There's a class of verbs called 's-stems', with >> transitive/causative, destative, or denominal >> meanings. However, they don't begin with s- at all, >> it seems; in Arabic they begin with '-, Akkadian >> with š-, and Hebrew with h-: > >We-eird... It also seems somewhat anomalous that >switching consonants around like that could serve a >concrete grammatical function. The Semitic languages >look more and more like some bizarre loglanging >experiment gone horribly awry...
Heh, you're telling me. :) I don't mean to sound pretentious, but I wonder if the traditional interpretation of written Akkadian is a little incorrect. Not only does Akkadian show |š| in the S-stems, where Arabic shows ?- and Hebrew h-, but it also has |š| in the personal pronouns: šu: 'he', ši: 'she' (cf. Arabic huwa 'he', hiya 'she'). So the question is, did Akkadian retain an earlier /S/ where Arabic and Hebrew did not? - Rob


Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>