עֲמֹרָה‎

Ali Smith

Senior Member
Urdu - Pakistan
Hi,

I just noticed that in the Septuagint the word עֲמֹרָה‎ 'Gomorrah' is transliterated Γόμορρᾰ. Does this mean that the Hebrew letter ע used to be pronounced like the Greek letter gamma back in those days? I always thought its classical pronunciation was identical to that of the Arabic ع!

Thanks!
 
  • slus

    Senior Member
    Hebrew - Israel
    I don't know how it used to be pronounced, but it's the same phenomenon as עזה translated to Gaza, so I suspect it was closer to غ.
    In modern Hebrew it is definitely ع, although most native speakers pronounce it closer to א.
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    It is suggested that this indicates a stage of Hebrew when /ʕ/ and /ɣ/ (and assumedly /ħ/ and /x/) were distinct.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    Yes, Hebrew used the one letter ע to represent two historic phonemes /ʕ/ and /ɣ/, which, by the Late Antiquity, ceased to be distinguished in pronunciation. Nevertheless, the fact that transliteration of names in the LXX regularly distinguish them, representing an etymological /ɣ/ with Γ and the etymological /ʕ/ without, suggests that the phonemes were still distinct in Hellenistic times, cf. עַזָּה Γάζα (Ar. غَزَّة‎) and יַעֲקֹב Ιακωβ (Ar. يَعْقُوب).
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    This is apparently an approximation. Γ was the Greek sound closest to Hebrew ע ghain but not identical.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    This is apparently an approximation. Γ was the Greek sound closest to Hebrew ע ghain but not identical.

    This may or may not be true, depending on which period we are talking about. At some point the Greek gamma shifted from /g/to /γ/, as now in Modern Greek.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    This may or may not be true, depending on which period we are talking about. At some point the Greek gamma shifted from /g/to /γ/, as now in Modern Greek.
    Even before that shift you can sensibly argue that [g] is the closest approximation to [ɣ] available in the Ancient Greek phoneme set.

    There are similar approximations in modern names, like in Baghdad, Afghanistan or Uyghur, although you could argue that those are just spelling pronunciations with people know knowing what <gh> stands for.
     
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