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Thread: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

  1. #21
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    I thought that Akkadian was extinct about 2000 years ago.
    Yes, and?

    (We are taking about mergers that must have happened between 3500 and 2500 years ago.)

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    Yes, and?

    (We are taking about mergers that must have happened between 3500 and 2500 years ago.)
    But you use present tense.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    But you use present tense.
    The language still preserves it, it's just that nobody has spoken it for over 2500 years. Languages themselves are immortal.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by tFighterPilot View Post
    The language still preserves it, it's just that nobody has spoken it for over 2500 years. Languages themselves are immortal.
    This is not really true.

    If this were the case then we could say Arabic preserves all 29 PS phonemes, because in some dialects of Old North Arabian s1, s2 & s3 were still distinct.

    We cannot speak about Akkadian in the present tense, as it no longer preserves anything. All we can say is that at such and such a point in Akkadian's history it preserved such and such feature like this. Just because that history stopped progressing 2000 years ago, doesn't change anything.

  5. #25
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    I do understand Abu Rashid’s point: if we are asking about a “well-preserved” language we are in fact talking about a modern spoken language and asking how well it has “preserved” the phonological and morphological systems of proto-Semitic. From the morphological point of view, modern Arabic is of a Middle Semitic type (e.g. total loss of the case and mood endings, as was, by the way, the case already in Neo-Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian, judging by the erratic spelling of the final vowels of nouns and verbs). At a phonological level, many Arabic dialects of the bedouin and rural types still distinguish all the Classical Arabic consonant phonemes apart from ض (which merges with ظ except in a small number of Arabic dialects in Southern Arabia), while the dialects of the urban type have reduced the repertoire of consonants to an extent comparable to Middle Aramaic. The full range of Semitic contrasting consonants is, however, retained in some of the Modern South Arabian languages, e.g. Mehri.

    Arabic, as it was spoken at the beginning of the Islamic era, was probably “better preserved” than Akkadian in the Neo-Babylonian period, more than a thousand years earlier. But it was less “well preserved” than Old Akkadian two millennia before that.
    Last edited by fdb; 20th December 2012 at 1:00 PM.

  6. #26
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    From my understanding, Akkadian never preserved all the different phonemes due to the influence of the non-Semitic Sumerian.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by fdb View Post
    many Arabic dialects of the bedouin and rural types still distinguish all the Classical Arabic consonant phonemes apart from ض (which merges with ظ except in a small number of Arabic dialects in Southern Arabia)
    Really?
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  8. #28
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Ihsiin View Post
    Really?
    Yes, the emphatic lateral represented by ض merged with the emphatic interdental ظ in Middle Arabic. The realisation of ض as [ḍ] and of ظ as [ẓ] is a modern reading pronunciation. Lateral ض survives only in the Modern South Arabian languages and a few Arabic dialects adjacent to the South Arabian speech zone.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by tFighterPilot View Post
    From my understanding, Akkadian never preserved all the different phonemes due to the influence of the non-Semitic Sumerian.
    This is debated. There is no doubt that the cuneiform script does not adequately reflect the sound system of Old Akkadian. But the fact that in Old Akkadian and Old Assyrian the vowels before and after a Semitic laryngeal are not contracted into single vowel (as they are in Old Babylonian) suggests that the laryngeals were still pronounced.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by fdb View Post
    Yes, the emphatic lateral represented by ض merged with the emphatic interdental ظ in Middle Arabic. The realisation of ض as [ḍ] and of ظ as [ẓ] is a modern reading pronunciation. Lateral ض survives only in the Modern South Arabian languages and a few Arabic dialects adjacent to the South Arabian speech zone.
    Yes, I'm aware of the merger, but I didn't think there were any Arabic dialects that did not merge the two.
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Lateral ض has been reported in the dialect of Dathina in southern Yemen.

  12. #32
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Ihsiin View Post
    Yes, I'm aware of the merger, but I didn't think there were any Arabic dialects that did not merge the two.
    ..... but I am sorry that I did not realise which part of my convoluted sentence you were asking about.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    I thought that Akkadian was extinct about 2000 years ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    But you use present tense.
    The simple present can be used to that extent


  14. #34
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Abu Rashid View Post
    If this were the case then we could say Arabic preserves all 29 PS phonemes, because in some dialects of Old North Arabian s1, s2 & s3 were still distinct.
    Arabic is Arabic and "some Old North Arabian dialects" are "some Old North Arabian dialects". Those are different things.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by fdb View Post
    Lateral ض has been reported in the dialect of Dathina in southern Yemen.
    I wonder whether this lateral dhad was preserved, or re-imported from South Arabian. I suspect the latter?
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Or preserved under the influence of a South Arabian substratum.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    Arabic is Arabic and "some Old North Arabian dialects" are "some Old North Arabian dialects". Those are different things.
    Modern Arabic differs no more from Old North Arabian than Modern Hebrew differs from Biblical Hebrew, in fact probably less. I don't see why you would consider one case the same language and the other not.
    Last edited by Abu Rashid; 31st December 2012 at 3:44 AM.

  18. #38
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    I would, if we were discussing features where Biblical and Modern Hebrew differed. Using labels like Arabic, Hebrew, English or German as an umbrella term for a multitude of dialects and development stages is always a(n over-)simplification which useful where the differences don't matter or when we explicitly mean is as a collection of dialects and development stages.

  19. #39
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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    I would, if we were discussing features where Biblical and Modern Hebrew differed. Using labels like Arabic, Hebrew, English or German as an umbrella term for a multitude of dialects and development stages is always a(n over-)simplification which useful where the differences don't matter or when we explicitly mean is as a collection of dialects and development stages.
    Agreed, but the context was of Biblical Hebrew having retained all 3 sibilants. Modern Hebrew, like modern Arabic, does not, and therefore that point is no more relevant than the fact that Old North Arabian retained them as well.

    I still do find it strange though that Biblical Hebrew & Modern Hebrew are considered part of the same language continuum, as are the oldest attestations of Aramaic with the neo-Aramaic languages, whilst Modern Arabic and Old North Arabian are not.

    In the case of Aramaic stages/dialects they are as far apart as most Semitic languages are from each otrher.

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    Re: Arabic is the best-preserved model of the Semitic languages

    I could argue that Modern Standard Arabic is a sort of artificial language made intentionally more similar with Classical Arabic, and thus more similar with the ancient Proto-Semitic language.
    While the "natural" Arabics that people speak - Arabian Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Lebanese Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, etc. - have all diverged much more from Classical Arabic, and thus from Proto-Semitic language.
    "Ĉokolado". Do you know how to say "chócoleit" in "Espanis"?

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