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Re: Polysemy

From:Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...>
Date:Monday, November 17, 2003, 21:01
On Mon, 17 Nov 2003 19:37:04 +0000, Ray Brown <ray.brown@...> wrote:

>> Biblical Hebrew (and I guess, Phoenician too) also did not indicate >> vowels but >> later scribes devised the system for the vowels to preserve the >> pronounciation >> since Hebrwe has become a dead language. >> >> Jus tell me if I'm wrong. > > No; AFAIK you are correct. I'm sure there have been and probably still > are some > pure abjads about. I'm sure John can enlighten us :)
Looking at the West Semitic (i.e. "pre-Pheonician") scripts of the Middle Bronze Age, we're probably looking at vowel-less scripts, although it is worth noting that Ugaritic might be the first script of that family to consistently mark (some) vowels, and that is of equivalent age. During the Iron age, the Northern Linear script becomes Pheonecian, and that is when there is some certainty of "matres lectionis" (i.e. vowel carriers) being used to mark the presence and quality of vowels. Aramaic use of the Linear scripts continued to be vowel-less until some time later, but it converted roughly in the same time frame. I can't find any pure vowel-less scripts in the modern world. I can find a lot of scripts that are nominally abjads, but they all have at least primitive markers for vowels. Paul