Re: New contribution

From: Dean Snyder (
Date: Tue May 04 2004 - 16:21:38 CDT wrote at 10:56 AM on Tuesday, May 4, 2004:

>Peter Constable scripsit:
>> 2) the characters in question are structurally / behaviourally very
>> similar to square Hebrew characters, but not to the characters of other
>> scripts
>Not just very similar: structurally, behaviorally, and even phonemically

Not phonemically - for example, Hebrew retains the Sin/Shin Proto-Semitic
distinction, while Phoenician does not. In fact, the phonemic evidence is
one of the stronger arguments supporting the claim that the Aramaean,
Hebrews, at al. borrowed the alphabet from the Phoenicians, and not the
other way around.

>> ... is it enough to refer to square Hebrew as "the modern form" of
>> Phoenician (Old Canaanite, whatever you want to call it)?

Square Hebrew is a descendant of Imperial Aramaic, which like Old Hebrew
and Old Aramaic, are descendants of Phoenician/Canaanite.

Here's one way of looking at it. Prior to the Babylonian exile, the
Hebrew national script, Old Hebrew (a direct descendant of Phoenician/
Canaanite) enjoyed a rather conservative development. Meanwhile, during
the same period of time, Old Aramaic (also, like Old Hebrew, a direct
descendant of Phoenician/Canaanite) underwent much greater changes.
During and after the Babylonian exile, Jewish writers and speakers
"synced up" with the then developing lingua franca in the region,
Aramaic, and adopted both the script and the language, which by that time
had evolved independently, and more extensively from its Canaanite roots
than Hebrew had.


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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