Archive for the ‘Sarfatti, Gad’ category

Sarfatti, Gad B. ראשית אימות¯הקריאה בכתב השמי המערבי ניסיון של סיכים, Leshonenu 58/1,3 (1994): 13-24,27

August 25, 2007

Sarfatti briefly reviews the scholarly approaches to the origins of vowel letters and synthesizes the results. He distinguishes three basic approaches: 1) Historical Spelling. The classic Biblical Hebrew grammars (Gesenius, Bergstrasser, et al) describe the origin of vowel letters as etymological and the result of conservative orthography. 2) Conservatism and Innovation. Cross and Freedman reject the theory that vowel letters are purely the result of historical spelling since final vowel letters appear so early in Aramaic orthography. 3) Deliberate Innovation. Forbes and Anderson develop the theory of Cross and Freedman further arguing that there is no evidence that historical spelling played any role at all in the innovation of vowel letters by the Arameans. Sarfatti adds evidence from proper names found in the Arad Ostraca and concludes with Forbes and Anderson that the use of yod, waw, and he to write /î/, /û/, and /â/ was an early Aramaic innovation, though the use of matres lectionis for /ê/ and /ô/ in the Hebrew Bible may indeed have been a secondary development from historical spelling and the contraction of diphthongs.