Interdentals ת (Taw), ש (Shin), ד (Daleth) and ז (Zayin)

Previously: Pharyngeals ח (Heth) and ע (Ayin) 

Now: Interdentals ת (Taw), ש (Shin), ד (Daleth) and ז (Zayin)

Arabic has two distinct letters Taw, a stop <t>, like Hebrew תּ, and a fricative <th>, like Hebrew ת without the dagesh. But in Arabic these two consonants are really distinct consonants, not different pronunciations of the same consonant depending on vowel configuration.

Aramaic, like Hebrew, has only one letter for <t> and <th> and pronunciation is defined by the vowel configuration. The two consonants describe the same phoneme, meaning that they are allophones, meaning that they mean the same thing.

Taw, Shin, Daleth and Zayin also derive from Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Taw derives from the symbol for a mark, Indiana Jones will love this, is an x.

hiero_Z9

The Hebrew word "taw" means "mark" as well, which suggests to me that whoever took the symbol to mean the consonant <t> used it first to write the work for "mark" in both Egyptian and Hebrew (or Canaanite) before using it for all occurences of the consonant the Hebrew "mark" started with.

Arabic Thaw (Taw fricative) also derives from this symbol.

Word correspondences show that an original Semitic <th> turned into <t> in Aramaic and <sh> in Hebrew while remaining <th> in the more conservative dialects of Arabic.

Shin derives from a hieroglyph for a tooth. The word "shin" (spelt with a Shin) also means "tooth" in Hebrew.

hiero_Aa32

This again suggests that the symbol was used first for the Egyptian word for "tooth" and then for the Hebrew word for "tooth" and finally as a symbol for the consonant the word "tooth" started with in Hebrew, <sh>.

Now guess what the symbol for Daleth meaning "door" in Hebrew meant in the ancient Egyptian language?

hiero_O31

It was a door. Again the process was from the Egyptian "door" to the Hebrew "door" to the consonant <d>.

Incidentally, this same transformation happened within the Egyptian language as well, but not to the extent as in Hebrew, Phoenician and Aramaic. Egyptians too started using hieroglyphs representing words to represent the starting consonants of the words. (Like in a Semitic language, in the Egyptian language it wouldn't make a lot of sense to represent a vowel.)

Many words in Arabic starting with ذ (Daleth fricative) have corresponding words in Hebrew starting with ז (Zayin) and in Aramaic with ד (Daleth stop or fricative depending on vowel configuration). Seeing that Arabic has two distinct Daleths (stop and fricative as distinct consonants) and that the consonant managed to become a <z> in Hebrew and <d> in Aramaic, the logical conclusion is that the original consonant was a <dh>, a fricative of <d>, like "th" in English "this".

Finally, the Zayin derives from no hieroglyph but simply represents first a sword and later the consonant the Hebrew word for sword ("zayin") begins with.

An interesting correspondence is the aforementioned <t> <- <th> -> <sh>. 


Arabic
ثور
thur
ox
Aramaic
תּור
tor
ox
Hebrew
שור
shor
ox
Proto-Semitic*
תור
th-w-r
ox**
*Reconstructed
**Probably

Arabic
ثلاث
thalaath
three
Aramaic
תּלת
talath
three
Hebrew
שלוש
shalosh
three
Proto-Semitic*
ת-ל-ת
th-l-th
three* (root)
*Reconstructed
**Probably

Arabic
اثنان
athnaan
two
Hebrew
שניים
shnaim
two
It's not easy reconstructing the original meaning of the root. It's not "two".


Arabic
ثوم
thum
garlic
Aramaic
תּום
tum
garlic
Hebrew
שום
shum
garlic
Proto-Semitic*
תום
thum
garlic**
*Reconstructed
**Probably


Obviously not all <sh> in Hebrew have correspondences to <t> in Aramaic and <th> in Arabic. This is how we can see how the consonants developed. The extinction of the (original*) <th> in Hebrew caused words with <th> to become words with <sh> but this didn't affect words with an original <sh> (for example שיר shir = song) or even words with original <sh> where the <sh> became an <s> in Arabic (שלום shalom = peace, سلام salaam = peace).

*Recall that <t> in Hebrew is pronounced <th> after a vowel, re-creating a sound that had died out in Hebrew before. Apparently the same happened in Aramaic.

And here are a few examples of the Dhalet - Zayin - Dalet range:

asd

Arabic
ذقن
dhaqan
chin, chin beard
Aramaic
דּקן
daqan
beard
Hebrew
זקן
zaqan
beard, old
Proto-Semitic*
דקן
dhaqan*
beard**, old**
*Reconstructed
**Probably


Arabic
ذكر
dhakar
male, remember
Aramaic
דּכר
dakhar
male, remember
Hebrew
זכר
zakhar
male, remember
Proto-Semitic*
דכּר
dhakar*
male**, remember**
*Reconstructed
**Probably


Arabic
ذا
dha
this
Aramaic
דּא
da
this
Hebrew
זה
ze
this
Proto-Semitic*
דא
dha*
this**
*Reconstructed
**Probably
All "this" are male.


Arabic
ذي
dhi
this
Aramaic
דּאת
dath
this
Hebrew
זאת
zoth
this
Proto-Semitic*
דאתּ
dhat*
this**
*Reconstructed
**Probably
All "this" are female.





Next I will look at the ridiculous amount of non-empathic "s"-like sounds in Hebrew and Arabic.

 © Andrew Brehm 2016