Arabic "ghayn" in Hebrew

  • Mjolnir

    Senior Member
    Israel, Hebrew, English
    Is there an equivalent in English?

    I don't know how that letter sounds so I can't help you without more details...
     

    iyavor

    Senior Member
    Israel/English
    Yes.

    In the word "Gaza"- the "ghayn" is replaced by an "ayin",
    the biblical city of " 'aza " becomes "ghaza" in Arabic.

    In addition, some pronunciations of Hebrew have a "gimmel" with no "dagesh" pronounced as a "ghayn".

    Iln
     

    Mjolnir

    Senior Member
    Israel, Hebrew, English
    Modern Hebrew has ר, which is like the English "r".

    It also has ג, which is like the English "g" in got or grave. If you add ' after ג (for ג' ם), the sound is the English "g" in German.

    * Ignore the red ם, it's just there to adjust the '.

    To the above poster - are you saying that ע is the Arabic ghayn?
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    There are two issues with ghayn in Hebrew. The historical phoneme and the actual sound.

    In Hebrew the cognates that have ع and غ have both merged into the single consonant ע, this has been noted by Outsider.

    This consonant is traditionally pronounced as a pharyngeal fricative, just like Arabic ع. This pronunciation however is believed by some to be lost even by the time of the Tiberian vocalization of Hebrew, and that ayin and alef where both pronounced as a glottal stop. This is contentious. Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries pronounce this letter as the ع in Arabic, while most European Jews pronounce it as a glottal stop or not at all (some however, as in the Dutch tradition, pronounce it as a nasal velar [ng]).

    That aside, it is clear that the letter ayin in Hebrew is related to cognates possessing both ع and غ in Arabic. Therefore the earlier sounds [3] and [gh] merged in Hebrew to just one.

    This is the general view as based on Jewish traditions of pronunciation.

    However, there is a reconstructed view to the contrary. As it turns out, there are some place names that in Hebrew are written with ayin (such as Gomorrah - written 3amora, or Gaza, written 3aza). Interestingly, when these names were brought over into Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible, the letter gamma was chosen to represent them - and this has resulted in their modern spellings in other languages, such as Gaza, Gomorrah. (Also, although not Classical, in modern Greek, this letter is commonly pronounced [gh]). This has lead some linguists to believe that actually Hebrew did possess both the phonemes [gh] and [3] separately, but that they were written with the same letter. The reason the evidence is compelling is that not all the Greek transliterations of place names that have ע use gamma. Writing different sounds with the same form is not an uncommon phenomenon in Semitic writing systems, but often diacritics are invented to differentiate forms (such as in Arabic). In Hebrew these diacritics are not commonly written, and in unvocalized Biblical text, are never written.

    The sound [gh] in Hebrew has and still exists in some traditions, but it is an alternate "soft" pronunciation for the letter gimel (which is cognate with Arabic ج and not Arabic غ). The origin of this sound has to do with the weakening of [g] between vowels (a lenition process, found in other languages across the globe). Words with gimel are not cognate to words with Arabic غ. There is also the use as noted above of [gh] to pronounced etymological [r] in modern Israel. This is a feature which I believe is found in some Arabic dialects as well (where ر is pronounced as غ).

    So there appears to be a little bit of evidence (vis-a-vis 2 paragraphs up) that غ and ع existed as separate phonemes at some time in Hebrew, but for all intents and purposes have merged into one consonant ע. This is because if all the evidence comes from transliterated place names, we have no way of knowing which other Hebrew words with ע would have been pronounced with [3] or with [gh] and indeed if this distinction existed in ancient times, it is totally lost to us. It could be reconstructed, I suppose, by comparison with Arabic cognates. When Hebrew diacritics were developed, some letters with the same form (sin and shin) were differentiated by a dot. Note, at this time, ayin and some alleged ghayin were not differentiated by any dots.

    Just to explain usage, I have used the '3' to represent the pharyngeal pronunciation of ע or ع. This is normal in Arabic chat use, but may be unfamiliar to those who are not used to Arabic. I have used it out of convenience rather than an apostrophe to make it distinct.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Thank you all. So, if "Gaza" is 'aza in Hebrew, why does the King James Bible call it Gaza and not Aza? Or is it simply unkown to us whether or not Gaza was originally GHaza before it became 'Aza?
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Thank you all. So, if "Gaza" is 'aza in Hebrew, why does the King James Bible call it Gaza and not Aza? Or is it simply unkown to us whether or not Gaza was originally GHaza before it became 'Aza?

    This is exactly a piece of evidence that I mentioned in my post for scholars who believe that in ancient times this was pronounced ghaza even in Hebrew, although written with the same letter used for ع. Just as sin and shin shared the same form, for them ayin and ghayin also shared the same form. The transliterations in the KJV are based ultimately on transliterations from the Latin Vulgate and the Greek before it.

    Again, this evidence is I believe limited to place names, because since the [gh] was totally lost in Hebrew, we cannot know what normal words used it, since these words were not transliterated into other languages.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Here is an site devoted to the topic of ghayin in Hebrew.

    It's quite interesting. There are some unscholarly claims on it (specifically about what "kinds" of words might have had ghayin), but the basic argument and evidence is there. I'll try to find a scholarly article on the subject. I would actually scroll half way down and skip the unscholarly things.

    There is also a note about this on the Biblical Hebrew language Wikipedia entry:

    "1) Greek transcriptions (see also "Various names in Hebrew and Greek".) provide evidence that Biblical Hebrew maintained the proto-Semitic consonants /ɣ/, /x/ for longer than the writing system might suggest. Thus ʿǍmōrāh (עֲמוֹרָה) is transcribed as Gómorrha (Γόμορρα) in Greek, whereas ʿĒḇer (עֵבֶר) is transcribed as Éber (Ἔβερ) with no intrusive g; since comparative Semitic evidence shows that proto-Semitic */ɣ/ and */ʕ/ both became `ayin (ע) in later Hebrew, this suggests that the distinction was still maintained in Classical times."
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    I guess no more confirmations are needed in this thread, but I can also say that Arabic غ is equivalent to Hebrew ע . Two examples I can think of right now are 'west' -- مغرب (maghrib) in Arabic; מערב (ma'arav) in Hebrew -- and 'boy/young man' -- غلام (ghulaam) in Arabic and עלם ('elem) in Hebrew.

    This same distinction occurs in Aramaic as well. Aramaic ע (l3ay) and Syriac (eastern Aramaic) ܥ , which sound like the Arabic ع , are also cognate with both the Arabic ع and غ . To go back to the above example 'west', in Syriac it is ܡܥܪܒܐ (ma3rba) where ܡ is م and מ ;l ܥ is غ and ע ;l ܪ is ر and ר ;l ܒ is ب and ב (and ܐ is أ and א ).
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    I also wanted to mention the (possible) connection with the Semitic 'gh' and the Hebrew word ערב ('erev). I would have mentioned it the other day in my other post but I was not thinking of it at the time. In Hebrew the word ערב means evening. Now, we can see the connection with this word and מערב (ma'arav). Firstly, they come from the same Hebraic root -- ע-ר-ב. The מ (mem) here is just a prefix like the Arabic م (miim) is a prefix in the word مغرب . And secondly, מערב is the Hebrew word for west --> the sun sets in the west --> the time period when the sun sets is known as 'evening'. This is in line with the Arabic root غ-ر-ب whence we see the connection between west and the sun setting. The literal meaning of مغرب is the place or time of sunset.

    In the three modern Hebrew dictionaries I searched I did not find a verb ערב . With the same root I found the derived verbs התערב (heet'arev -- to intervene; to be mixed with) and עירב ('ayrev -- to mix; to involve) which have no connection (that I can see) to the idea of going away, west or evening time. So the ע in this root must be the Semitic 'ayin, and not ghayin. In my Syriac dictionary, on the other hand, I found the verb
    ܥܪܒ (l3rab) which is listed with the meaning "to set; go down" (of the sun). So the only thing I can conclude is that ערב , where the ע is the Semitic 'gh', must be a biblical/ancient Hebrew verb that is not used in modern Hebrew. (Unfortunately I do not know much about biblical/ancient Hebrew and do not have a biblical Hebrew dictionary or a root dictionary (but plan on ordering one now)).


    ---

    I did some more checking around, comparing Hebrew words with Arabic cognates, and found some other Hebrew words that appear to come from roots with the Semitic 'gh':

    The word crow/raven -- in Hebrew it is עורב ('orev); and the Arabic is غراب (ghuraab). Assuming the Hebrew ע is the Semitic 'gh' we can see the same root letters in each word -- Hebrew ע is Arabic ع ; Hebrew ר is Arabic ر ; and ב is ب . I was looking at the Semitic root index of the American Heritage Dictionary and came across the root 'gh-r-b' , which is noted as being a common Semitic root. Raven was mentioned along with the Arabic equivalent. This is what caused me to look for the word in Hebrew. Too bad the Semitic root list is not more in depth. The astute reader will have noted that this word comes from the same Hebraic root as the previously mentioned ערב and מערב.

    An ancient Hebrew word עמר ('omer) meaning sheaf or bundle. Again, looking at the Semitic root appendix it lists this word under the root gh-m-r. In the Hans Wehr dictionary I found غمر (ghumr) which means armful. These are possibly related assuming an armful is about as much as a bundle. This is, of course, a loose connection, but possibly worth a closer look.

    Cave -- In Hebrew cave is מערה (me'arah) and this is very similar to the Arabic مغارة (maghaara) of the same meaning. Check Semitic root index here.



    And now here's what I thought was really interesting:

    The word Eden, as in the Garden of Eden. In Hebrew Eden is עדן ('eden) and the Arabic word is عدن (l3adan). If we note the Arabic word we might think that they come from a common Semitic root '3-d-n'. But, it actually appears to come from a Semitic root 'gh-d-n'. And what evidence is there for this? Well, again, going back to the Semitic root list we find this entry under the the root gh-d-n:

    ENTRY:ġdn.
    DEFINITION:
    Central Semitic noun *ġadan-, *ġidn-, softness, tenderness, verdure. Eden, from Hebrew ceden, delight.
    From that page there is a link to the dictionary definition of Eden, which, of course, directs us to the 'gh-d-n' page.

    Also, the entry for Eden at etymonline.com is quite interesting. The entry for Edna (two entries down from Eden) is particularly enlightening:

    fem. proper name, from Gk., from Heb. ednah "delight" (see Eden). Related to Arabic ghadan "luxury."
    So, now off to the Lisan al-Arab, an old, well respected Arabic dictionary, for more information on this word:
    Under the entry for غ-د-ن we find the noun غدن (ghadan) and the very first explanation is:


    الغَدَن: سَعَةُ العيش والنَّعْمةُ
    (al-ghadan: sa3a[tu] 'l-3aysh wa-n-na3ma[tu])

    سعة العيش (sa3atu 'l-3aysh) literally means "wideness of life, but سعة has the additional meanings of comfort, luxury, and abundance, so the phrase means comfort of life. النعمة (an-na3ma) means grace or blessing (particularly from God). Later on we see
    وإِنهم لفـي عَيْش غُدْنَةٍ وغُدُنَّة أَي رَغدٍ
    (wa-2innahum la-fii 3aysh ghudnatin wa-ghudunna 2ayy raghdin)

    I think it works better if I translate these using transliteration with explanation.


    This literally means "they are in a life of ghudna[tin]* and ghudunna*, in other words raghd[in]." According to the Hans Wehr dictionary رَغدٍ (raghd) means "easy, carefree, agreeable (of life)" and for the phrase عيش رغد (l3aysh raghd) it says "a life of plenty and opulence."

    Later on still the author relates this sentence:
    وفلان فـي غُدُنَّة من عيشه، أَي فـي نَعْمةٍ ورَفاهِية.
    (wa-fulaan fii ghudunna fii 3ayshihi, ayy fii na3ma(tin) wa-rafaahiyya.)

    This means "A person living in ghudunna* is living is blessing and luxurious comfort."

    I think we get the picture now -- غدن (ghadan) is a place where a person lives a life of plenty in extreme comfort and luxury -- the very ideal that the Garden of Eden is supposed to represent.

    So, there you have it. We have found the Garden of Eden, in a manner of speaking.:) That is, we have discovered that it comes from a common Semitic root 'gh-d-n'.

    Now, the question that arises is, why is Eden in Arabic عدن (l3adn) instead of غدن (ghadan)? Well, we know that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew. So, by the time the Bible was translated into Arabic the 'gh' sound of Hebrew had already been lost (assuming it existed as such) and so when the translators saw עדן they brought it directly into Arabic with the idea that Hebrew ע is the cognate of Arabic ع . And so it was written as عدن .


    -------------
    *These words are just variations on ghadan.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Omeriko, in another thread, just reminded me of another one I had forgotten about -- צעיר (tsa'eer), which means 'young' in Hebrew, is the equivalent of the Arabic صغير (Sagheer), which means 'small' or 'young'. צ (tsadi) is صl(Saad); ע ('ayin) is, of course, غl(ghayn); י (yod) is ي (yaa); and ר (resh) is ر (raa). This is an interesting case because both the Arabic and Hebrew words have the exact same shape. They have the initial consonant (C), followed by a short 'a' (pronounced like the 'a' in 'calm' due to the emphatic consonants צ and ص), followed by the second consonant, followed by a long vowel sound (as in feel), and followed by the final consonant -- C1aC2eeC3* .

    It needs to be noted that while the Arabic word can refer to both small and young the Hebrew word only means young, small being קטן (katan).

    *C1aC2eeC3 --C1 stands for the first root letter; C2 the second; and C3 the third.
    ---------


    So just to sum up, our list of Hebrew words that appear to have the Semitic 'gh' in their roots includes:

    מערב (ma'arav) -- west
    ערב ('erev) -- evening
    עלם ('elem) -- young man
    עורב ('orev) -- crow
    עמר ('omer) -- sheaf
    מערה (me'arah) -- cave
    צעיר (tsa'eer) -- young
    עדן ('eden) -- Eden
    עמורה ('amorah) -- Gomorrah
    עזה ('aza) -- Gaza


    This stuff really interests me. Can you tell.:)
     

    iyavor

    Senior Member
    Israel/English
    Regarding the pronounciation of a Hebrew "resh" (ר) as a "ghayin", I gather that this pronunciation has Yiddish roots. In many Yiddish dialects, the "resh" is pronounced gutturally. The European Yiddish-influenced pronounciation of the resh and many other Hebrew phonemes eventually became the dominant form in Hebrew speaking communities within British Mandatory Palestine. Therefore, I would not assume that the two phonemes, that is, the European "resh" phoneme, and the Arabic "ghayin", are historically related. In any case- I think that the phonemes are similar, but not identical- I feel that the modern Hebrew "resh" is less fricative than the "ghayin".

    Today, many Sefardi pronunciations, as well as several Ashkenazic pronunciations of the "resh" are actually trilled.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    So just to sum up, our list of Hebrew words that appear to have the Semitic 'gh' in their roots includes:

    מערב (ma'arav) -- west
    ערב ('erev) -- evening
    עלם ('elem) -- young man
    עורב ('orev) -- crow
    עמר ('omer) -- sheaf
    מערה (me'arah) -- cave
    צעיר (tsa'eer) -- young
    עדן ('eden) -- Eden
    עמורה ('amorah) -- Gomorrah
    עזה ('aza) -- Gaza

    It would have been great if Biblical Hebrew orthography still indicated which 'ayns were originally ghayns (and which hets were originally [ḥ] for that matter), but in lieu of that I've found this list quite useful. Does anyone know how many such words there truly are? (A few hundred? A few dozen? Maybe less than that?)
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I believe there is actually some doubt whether this sound was actually preserved in the Septuagint "g". Therefore there is doubt about עזה (and possibly עמורה as well). Arabic غزة could have been influenced by the Greek.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Also, when the Hebrew letter ג does not have a דגש in it it is supposed to be pronounced like the Arabic غين, although no one does that anymore.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I believe there is actually some doubt whether this sound was actually preserved in the Septuagint "g". Therefore there is doubt about עזה (and possibly עמורה as well). Arabic غزة could have been influenced by the Greek.

    If that were the case we would expect Arabic to have rendered it with a jiim ج in that period. Also, Arabic was already spoken in that region prior to the Macedonian/Greek conquest (Alexander fought with some Arabs in his siege of Gaza) so I don't think it's likely.

    Also, when the Hebrew letter ג does not have a דגש in it it is supposed to be pronounced like the Arabic غين, although no one does that anymore.

    Yes, that's sprirantization, which occurs with several 'stops' in Hebrew and Syriac but I'm more interested in the phoneme ghayn rather than the [gh] sound per se.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    If that were the case we would expect Arabic to have rendered it with a jiim ج in that period. Also, Arabic was already spoken in that region prior to the Macedonian/Greek conquest (Alexander fought with some Arabs in his siege of Gaza) so I don't think it's likely.

    It depends on the time period. If it happened in the Middle ages, غ is quite likely.

    The fact that Arabic was already spoken in the region has nothing to do with it. The question is when do we first find the word غزة.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    So Arabs lived there for over a thousand years but didn't know the name of the region's major city until the "Middle Ages"? There's no reason to think that's the case and there are no other examples from the region that would support this theory (see how Arabic renders 'Galilee' and 'Golgotha'). There are though several words besides Gaza that appear in translations of the Bible with a [g] but are rendered in Hebrew with a 'ayn, so we're not talking about an isolated word.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    So Arabs lived there for over a thousand years but didn't know the name of the region's major city until the "Middle Ages"?

    Or didn't use the name. It's quite possible.

    There's no reason to think that's the case and there are no other examples from the region that would support this theory (see how Arabic renders 'Galilee' and 'Golgotha').

    Assuming it should have been borrowed the same way means you're assuming it was borrowed under the same circumstances. These words were borrowed by literary Arabic due to the Bible. The word for Gaza could easily have been borrowed into the common spoken Arabic from the common spoken Greek.

    Keep in mind that this theory would state that the name could have been عزة until Greek influence changed the ع to غ.

    There are though several words besides Gaza that appear in translations of the Bible with a [g] but are rendered in Hebrew with a 'ayn, so we're not talking about an isolated word.

    What you state here is exactly the original reason that this connection between Greek gamma and the ghayn was theorized.

    However, it never really fully fit. The reason being that many of the words with Greek gamma for ע should actually be expected not to have ghayn based on comparative linguistics. And further, many words that would have had ghayn do not get a Greek gamma.

    This throws that whole theory into question.

    In fact, it throws into doubt the very fact that Hebrew even maintained this distinction at the time the Septuagint was written. The Septuagint, after all, was the only reason to date this merger so late.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Or didn't use the name. It's quite possible.

    Yes, everything is "possible" I suppose.

    Assuming it should have been borrowed the same way means you're assuming it was borrowed under the same circumstances. These words were borrowed by literary Arabic due to the Bible. The word for Gaza could easily have been borrowed into the common spoken Arabic from the common spoken Greek.

    What makes you believe it was borrowed only by literary Arabic and only due to the Bible? And why would spoken Arabic borrow it from Greek specifically? These are just assumptions you're making. They're not impossible but not particularly well founded either. The area was under Greek rule but Greek was not what most people spoke as their vernacular. And it's not like the Greeks built Gaza or Arabic speakers only arrived after the Greeks. Both the city and the language's presence in the area predate the Greeks by many centuries.

    What you state here is exactly the original reason that this connection between Greek gamma and the ghayn was theorized.

    However, it never really fully fit. The reason being that many of the words with Greek gamma for ע should actually be expected not to have ghayn based on comparative linguistics. And further, many words that would have had ghayn do not get a Greek gamma.

    This throws that whole theory into question.

    I understand, but these don't really sound like unsurmountable difficulties to be honest.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Actually, I think I mixed things up. I got it backwards. I think the new theory is actually that while the distinction was lost in Hebrew, Greek had already had the names of cities like Gaza and Gomorrah in its vocabulary. Or else got it from another language such as Arabic. (So Arabic more likely influenced Greek, and not the other way around.)

    So this whole thing is moot now anyway, but nevertheless, I still have these things to say:

    What makes you believe it was borrowed only by literary Arabic and only due to the Bible? And why would spoken Arabic borrow it from Greek specifically? These are just assumptions you're making. They're not impossible but not particularly well founded either. The area was under Greek rule but Greek was not what most people spoke as their vernacular. And it's not like the Greeks built Gaza or Arabic speakers only arrived after the Greeks. Both the city and the language's presence in the area predate the Greeks by many centuries.

    Well when I say borrowed from Greek, it doesn't necessarily mean directly from Greek. It could have passed through Aramaic/Syriac as most Greek words did.

    But then again, I wouldn't rule out a direct borrowing either, because after all, when you're ruling class speaks a language, you end up interacting with it.

    I understand, but these don't really sound like unsurmountable difficulties to be honest.

    Actually that is the very definition of an insurmountable difficulty. The theory claims that the Greek gamma maintains the distinction, except that the distinction is not able to actual distinguish. It's not a distinction then.

    More likely that the general ע sound was somewhere between ע and "gh".
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Ok, then it may be that I've understood the claim in a weaker sense than you have, i.e. not that there is a 1:1 correspondence between the Greek Gs and Hebrew ghayn but that the Gs are evidence that some ghayns were retained for certain words (e.g. proper names) or at least that a memory of how these words were originally rendered survived among the Jewish scholars that worked on the Septuagint.

    Or it could be that Hebrew was in a transitional phase where the shift was not yet uniform or consistent, a modified version perhaps of what you said here:

    More likely that the general ע sound was somewhere between ע and "gh".

    That said, it could very well be (as you hinted above) that Greeks knew these names from earlier contacts with the Canaanites/Phoenicians when their languages still retained the ghayn. This is beyond my ability to assess but it does sound plausible. (This wouldn't explain 'Gomorrah' though since it's a mythical place that I wouldn't expect the Greeks to know about except from the Bible!)
     
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    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    There's something interesting about Arabic names of Hebrew/Canaanite cities: it looks like pre- Canaanite Vowel Shift. E.g Yafa and not Yafo (or Yafu?). 3akka and not 3akko (or 3akku?). 3amman and not (Rabat) 3ammon (or 3ammun?). So Arabs may have had old traditions for these names, older than Greek presence in the area (and the LXX), older than late Biblical Hebrew. This may have as well implications on the history of ghayin vs. 3ayin in toponyms.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    There's something interesting about Arabic names of Hebrew/Canaanite cities: it looks like pre- Canaanite Vowel Shift. E.g Yafa and not Yafo (or Yafu?). 3akka and not 3akko (or 3akku?). 3amman and not (Rabat) 3ammon (or 3ammun?). So Arabs may have had old traditions for these names, older than Greek presence in the area (and the LXX), older than late Biblical Hebrew. This may have as well implications on the history of ghayin vs. 3ayin in toponyms.

    Did Biblical Hebrew (or other Canaanite languages) apply the vowel shift to foreign place names or only to their towns?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Did Biblical Hebrew (or other Canaanite languages) apply the vowel shift to foreign place names or only to their towns?
    I guess they applied it to names that they knew of before the shift, but not to names that came into the language afterwards.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    There's something interesting about Arabic names of Hebrew/Canaanite cities: it looks like pre- Canaanite Vowel Shift. E.g Yafa and not Yafo (or Yafu?). 3akka and not 3akko (or 3akku?). 3amman and not (Rabat) 3ammon (or 3ammun?). So Arabs may have had old traditions for these names, older than Greek presence in the area (and the LXX), older than late Biblical Hebrew. This may have as well implications on the history of ghayin vs. 3ayin in toponyms.

    Yes, but it's not only the Arabs who had names for these places. But maybe that is a point worth considering.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Ok, then it may be that I've understood the claim in a weaker sense than you have, i.e. not that there is a 1:1 correspondence between the Greek Gs and Hebrew ghayn but that the Gs are evidence that some ghayns were retained for certain words (e.g. proper names) or at least that a memory of how these words were originally rendered survived among the Jewish scholars that worked on the Septuagint.

    No, I'm saying that there is no longer any credible evidence that the Hebrew language maintained this distinction whatsoever at that point in time. Jewish scholars may have known things from outside of Hebrew and Aramaic. But there is no longer evidence that the language not preserved these sounds.

    Or it could be that Hebrew was in a transitional phase where the shift was not yet uniform or consistent, a modified version perhaps of what you said here:

    It's possible, but why should we assume that? My whole point is that we no longer have evidence of a distinction. There may have been one, but we no longer have evidence for it.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I think there's a difference between saying the evidence has some issues or is not clear-cut or not conclusive and saying there is no evidence at all, but looks like we'll have to agree to disagree at this point.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    There is technically "evidence" in the sense that there is data that can be used to make an inference.

    However, the evidence can be explained in other ways, and therefore it is very weak evidence at best.

    It's not that it "has some issues". It's that it has a very plausible alternative explanation.

    So the most we can say based on it is "maybe these sounds still existed".

    And that's the case anyway, even without this evidence.
     

    Ihsiin

    Senior Member
    English
    What you state here is exactly the original reason that this connection between Greek gamma and the ghayn was theorized.

    However, it never really fully fit. The reason being that many of the words with Greek gamma for ע should actually be expected not to have ghayn based on comparative linguistics. And further, many words that would have had ghayn do not get a Greek gamma.

    This throws that whole theory into question.

    In fact, it throws into doubt the very fact that Hebrew even maintained this distinction at the time the Septuagint was written. The Septuagint, after all, was the only reason to date this merger so late.

    It would still remain necessary to explain why the Septuagint renders ע as /g/ for some names. Does anyone have list of words in the Septuagint that transliterate ע? I feel the desire to roll my sleeves up and get down to some hands-on etymology.

    I, like Wadi, find it quite unlikely that Arabic غزة came via Greek, in which case we would more likely expect something like جازا, particularly given that Arabs have been living in the city itself since at least Roman times. In my opinion, the existence of غزة as opposed to عزة is quite suggestive.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    There are more cases of 3ayin/ghayin > gamma in the LXX. Seems that ghayin was alive in Hebrew of the time (3rd-1st centuries BC). Therefore one can guess that ghayin survived as long as Ancient Hebrew survived, before contaminated by Aramaic between 1st century BC and 2nd century AD. Arabs are known to dwell in the land at the time, not only Nabateans in the south, they also appear in the Dead Sea scrolls.
    Similar ghost ghayins are seen in the name of Mount Ebal, Hebrew ‘Eivål (עֵיבָל), called Gaibál in the Septuagint (Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:29)[iii], or in the names Beit Pe‘ōr (בֵּית פְּעוֹר) and Ba‘al Pe‘ōr (בַּעַל-פְּעוֹר), called oíkou Phogór (the house of Phogór) and Beelphegòr in the Septuagint (Devarim / Deuteronomy 3:29 and 4:3, respectively). Queen ‘Athalyåhu (עֲתַלְיָהוּ) daughter of ‘Omrī (עָמְרִי) is called Gotholía daughter of Ambrí (II Melakhim / Kings 8:26), though both her name and her father’s begin with an ‘ayin, and a woman named ‘Azūvåh (עֲזוּבָה) is called Gazoubà in the Greek text (I Divrei haYamim / Chronicles 2:18).
    This and more interesting facts in What can the Greek Septuagint tell us about ancient Hebrew?.
     
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