Re: New contribution

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Thu Apr 29 2004 - 23:03:36 EDT

  • Next message: Mark E. Shoulson: "Re: New contribution"

    John Hudson wrote at 1:51 PM on Thursday, April 29, 2004:

    >I'm familiar with a number of the books in Michael's bibliography, and I
    >think it should
    >be noted that the use of the term Phoenecian may often reflect the Greco-
    >centric tradition
    >of much European writing on the subject. The script is commonly called
    >Phoenician because
    >the Greeks got their alphabet from the Phoenicians -- as every schoolboy
    >learns --: sea
    >traders who spread their writing system around the eastern Mediterranean.
    >I wonder if some of the objections from Semiticists -- and I note that
    >both Dean and Mark
    >are not opposing the Phoencician proposal per se, only expressing
    >concerns about what is
    >or is not or may be unified in it -- might stem from their looking at
    >this script in a
    >different context, in which its use is not specifically linked to the
    >Phoenicians and in
    >which its place in a continuum of structurally identical and graphically
    >related writing
    >systems is more obvious.
    >It is in light of this that I wonder whether the proposal might elicit
    >less objection if
    >the name were changed to make clear that a number of closely related
    >ancient Near-Eastern
    >writing systems are unified in the proposal.

    Very well put.

    Just a few pertinent quotes from one respected West Semitic scholar will
    illustrate the point:

    "Three alphabetic scripts which evolved from a common ancestor [Proto-
    Canaanite] were used in Syria-Palestine in the first millenium B.C.:
    Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic." p 53

    "In inscriptions of the tenth century, Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic
    scripts are indistinguishable." p 89

    "It should be remembered that, since the three scripts evolved from a
    common ancestor [Proto-Canaanite], the development of some letter forms
    is almost inevitable." pp 99 & 100

    Joseph Naveh, Early History of the Alphabet - An Introduction to West
    Semitic Epigraphy and Palaeography, Brill, 1982


    Dean A. Snyder

    Assistant Research Scholar
    Manager, Digital Hammurabi Project
    Computer Science Department
    Whiting School of Engineering
    218C New Engineering Building
    3400 North Charles Street
    Johns Hopkins University
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21218

    office: 410 516-6850
    cell: 717 817-4897

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