Hebrew with Aramaic, Phoenician etc

From: Peter Kirk (peter.r.kirk@ntlworld.com)
Date: Wed Jul 16 2003 - 10:28:43 EDT

  • Next message: Thomas M. Widmann: "Re: Aramaic, Samaritan, Phoenician"

    I asked the following question on the b-hebrew and biblical-languages
    lists (http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew,

    <some background snipped>

    > Are there scholarly publications (more recent than BDB!) which quote
    > inscriptional Aramaic, Phoenician, Samaritan, paleo-Hebrew etc as well
    > as Hebrew? In such cases, what scripts are used for Aramaic,
    > Phoenician etc? BDB (1906) quoted these and even south Arabian
    > inscriptions in Hebrew script. But what is the modern practice? Are
    > ancient alphabets (other than Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac etc which are in
    > modern use) ever used in such publications? Are these languages ever
    > transcribed in Hebrew script, or only in Latin script transliteration?
    > I am interested in practice in Israeli journals in modern Hebrew as
    > well as in journals in western languages.

    Some responses I have received:

     From a PhD student in Semitics at a major US university:

    >As far as I know, they are normally transcribed in Latin or Hebrew
    >letters. There may be some need for Samaritan as its own script, but
    >generally speaking the epigraphic scripts are better hand-drawn where
     From a Jewish professor at a US university:

    >Today, even Israeli academic (Hebrew-language) journals usually prefer
    >Latin transcription rather than Hebrew, though publications meant for the
    >lay public often use Hebrew.
    >My personal feeling is that using specific scripts for any but the most
    >commonly-studies languages would be lost on the readership of all but the
    >most specialized publications.
     From a PhD candidate in early Judaism in Canada:

    >Current scholarly practice is to transcribe such texts with either the
    >square "Hebrew" script (e.g., Discoveries in the Judean Desert; Syrian
    >Semitic Inscriptions) or transliteration (e.g., Gogel's Grammar of
    >Epigraphic Hebrew). As for Israeli scholars, Kutscher's _The Language and
    >Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll_ even transcribes Syriac and
    >Ugaritic and some Arabic (as well as Phoenician, Samaritan, Lachish,
    >Elephantine, Palmyrene, Mandean, Gaonic) into "Hebrew" script, although
    >El-Amarna words is transcribed into Latin characters, and Arabic words may
    >be also be in Arabic script or transliteration.
    >Two things however, may be worthwhile considering for Unicode:
    >(1) Although it is possible to transcribe inscriptional numerals as Arabic
    >(i.e. Western) numerals, some (e.g., Gogel) still reproduce their
    >inscriptional shapes in transcription.
    >(2) Clarification on how to note uncertain readings in transcription (a
    >circle or dot above the uncertain letter). I've been using HEBREW MARK
    >MASORA CIRCLE 05AF and HEBREW MARK UPPER DOT 05C4 for this purpose, but I'm
    >not sure if this is recommended practice.
    I'll let you all know if I get any more relevant feedback.

    Peter Kirk

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