CHOOSING THE SYMBOLS
AFTER THE INVENTION
When the alephbet was invented, in today’s Israel and in the time of the Patriarchs of the Bible, the
spoken language or group of dialects, North-Western Semitic, had to be written with the new system .
VARIATIONS BETWEEN DIALECTS AND INDIVIDUALS
Certainly, as in all languages and nations, various dialects and local or individual differences in the
ways of pronouncing sounds, consonants as well as vocals, must have existed in practice between
the various regions, such as per example Phoenicia and Israel.
DIFFERENT CHOICES POSSIBLE
Therefore the inventors of alphabetic signs or letters had to make choices. And apparently various
scholars have found non-identical solutions in a number of cases.
Consequently we find often one symbol used for different sounds, especially in the case of alveolar
affricates, lateral fricatives and velars.
When trying to analyze relationships between Indo-European and Semitic roots, we have to be well
aware of this. This should not surprise anybody, as also in Indo-European languages, before the
legal regulation or imposition of spelling, there often seemed to be a free for all as to the choices
in spelling .
A FEW EXAMPLES OF SYMBOLS CHOSEN
S I G
M A and others
Visibly the Greek capital letter Σ , sounding "S" and called " sigma " has its
origin in the Semitic and Hebrew letter Sin
: ש ( sounding "S"). And so has the Greek lower case letter
ώ m sounding "O" and called " omega ", a name that means " big O ". But the Greek lower case letter σ , also
sounding "S" , has visibly been derived from the Semitic Samech : ס , that also sounds "S".
There are two complications . The name " sigma " is used
for both symbols , Σ
and σ . And also for the variation ς , used
at the end of words . It can be presumed
that this name was derived from the Semitic name of this letter , in Hebrew " samech ", with a metathesis between the M and CH sounds and
the adding of a final A as has been the case with many other letters . The
second complication is that the letter Omega has also the, outside Greece more generally known , form
Ω as a capital letter. The letters for the sound defined as " big O " have to be compared with those for the sound
defined as " omikron" or " little o ". These letters
are in fact one : Ο and ο .
As to the origin of the
symbol " O " for " O ", that has obviously lived on into modern European
languages , there exists the idea that it has been designed after the Semitic
This letter represents a guttural sound unknown in European tongues
, and it could be used for something else . It’s name is " Ayin " which says " eye " .
Regretfully the O does not in any way look like the ע .. We will not
repeat the complicated reasoning’s that are used in this matter
. The supposition seems anyhow wrong .
itself in our view may simply have been used to express a different vowel, the
"Ypsilon " or in ancient
Greek " Upsilon ", that sounded like
German " ü " . Some think instead
that the Greek Υ , also υ , has been
designed after the Semitic letter Waw, ו . But there is no visible likeness at all. Besides
this, the Waw, used for the sounds W , O and U , has
lived on in early Greek exactly as "waw", be it with
the addition of a second line in the middle, possibly to make it clearer and
easier to recognize : F . Only later
the "waw" and its sound have disappeared from Greek.
We can make another
hypothesis. As we know the Greeks used the Semitic letters that they did not
need for their consonants, in a
different way, as in order to express
vowels . They found in the Semitic alphabet two symbols for what they
considered one sound : S . One of them could be used
for a vowel. Possibly different people originally made different choices. Some
used the ש for the vowel "O-mega " and
others took it for the " S ". Some perhaps used the ס for the consonant
" S " , but others even made a vowel " O " out of it . This has certainly created some confusion. The old Dorian name "σαν, san " is probably based on the original semitic name " sin " . Curious is that this name had not been
hellenized , as it might have been for example by
adding an "A" : "*shina" or " sina
Interesting is the explanation
why the Ionians felt free to
use the letter"Hé" for the vowel E .
Perhaps the choice of ה and ח , two letters that look not too different from each
other, for two Greek vowels that also are not too different ( E and ‘E ) , can
be considered very rational . Also the two Hebrew letters stand for not too
different sounds .
The Hebrew SIN and SHIN ,
sounding respectively " S " and " SH " , but using the same symbol , have other
interesting aspects , as noted for example in similarity number Hebrew 0919 (E 0931) , where the original meaning of
its name is compared with other languages
The three Hebrew letters we mentioned, ס samech , שׁ , shin , and שׂ sin, sometimes are found in roots that are clear cognates or even identical.
Their boundaries are not always clearly signed. A few examples are the roots :
ר ד ס (seder) "order" ה
שׂ (sәdera) "line,
row, circle" similarity Hebrew 0847 (E 0640)
ס (sapaq) "to clap
hands" ק פ
שׂ ( sapaq )
"to clap hands" similarity n.a.
ס (sapaq) "to provide"
שׂ ( sapaq
) "to be sufficient " similarity Hebrew 0859 (RU
ס ( sut) "suit, dress"
( shut, shit ) "dress" similarity Hebrew 0873 (E 0883)
and Hebrew 0955 (E 0884)
ס (sittèm) "to stem" ם
ת שׂ (satam) "to
obstruct, stem" similarity Hebrew 0864 (E 0873)
The Hebrew letter "Samech"
is found in some words with particularly interesting roots, that are cognates
of many Indo European and specific English words . Examples are seen in the following similarities :
Hebrew 0847 (E 0640) , order
Hebrew 0849 (E 0821) ,
he saw , sight
Hebrew 0851 (E 0781) , secure
Hebrew 0868 (E 0830) ,
Also the letter "Sin" has some roots with
important Indo-European cognates, such as :
Hebrew 0878 (E 0762 ) , to say
The Hebrew letter "Shin" is found as well in many roots that are
cognates of both Indo- European and specific English words . We give a few examples :
Hebrew 0886 (E 0782) , see, show
Hebrew 0893 (E 0822) , sight, view
Hebrew 0887 (E 0769) , sceon (O E.), geschehen (German)
Hebrew 0894 (E 0752) ,
Hebrew 0914 (E 0806) , shield
Hebrew 0920 (E 0809) , shine
Hebrew 0939 (E 0780) , seat
Hebrew 0941 (E 0794) , set
Hebrew 0943 (E 0872) , steer (v)
Hebrew 0948 (E 0846) , some
Hebrew 0954 (E 0795) , set