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

From:Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...>
Date:Saturday, March 12, 2005, 19:23
On Mar 11, 2005, at 7:35 PM, Rob Haden wrote:
> On Fri, 11 Mar 2005 17:21:05 +0200, Steg Belsky <draqonfayir@...> > wrote: >> According to the theory i learned, |-m| and |-n| were both >> definiteness >> markers, which in some languages lost their definite strength and >> became indefinite markers. This is also supposed to be the origin of >> the few Hebrew adverbs in |-am|, like _hhinam_ "for free", _reiqam_ >> "empty". The original plural marker they say was just the long vowel, >> so Hebrew |-im| developed from |-i-m|.
> 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) Ancient South Arabian: addition of |m| for indefinite. also |n| for definite (« "han"?) |klbn| vs. |klbm| (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.
> 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!
> I wonder if the 'long vowel' ending is really no ending at all, just a > prosodic process. If so, then we can reconstruct a stage for Proto- > Semitic where there were no number distinctions. Then the enclitic > demonstrative *-m acquired secondary force as either a singulative > (Arabic > and Akkadian) or plural (Hebrew) marker. Another piece of evidence in > favor of this is the fact that, in both Hebrew and Arabic, the definite > article does not decline for case, number, or gender (cf. Classical > Arabic > ar-rajulu 'the man (nom.)' vs. ar-rija:lu: 'the men (nom)'). > - Rob
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? -Stephen (Steg) "quit it with the damn schwa already! i hate phonetics!" - my friend e (back when we took intro to linguistics together)


Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>