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.
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.
From my understanding, Akkadian never preserved all the different phonemes due to the influence of the non-Semitic Sumerian.
Lateral ض has been reported in the dialect of Dathina in southern Yemen.
Or preserved under the influence of a South Arabian substratum.
Last edited by Abu Rashid; 31st December 2012 at 3:44 AM.
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.
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.
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"?