Samaritan Hebrew š (< *ś)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


The inventory of Samaritan Hebrew consonants conforms by and large to the one reflected in Jewish reading traditions. Most deviations from the ‘common’ Hebrew pattern are easily explicable as late changes, possibly under the influence of vernacular languages: The loss of [p] (and also [v]) and its realization as either [b] or [f] is due to Arabic influence, and the loss of the laryngeal and pharyngeal consonants and their merger with /ˀ/ has been tied by some to Greek influence. But Samaritan Hebrew evinces an additional distinct merger: That of historical *ś > š. Two explanations for this state of affairs have been put forward: 1) That it reflects a northern isogloss traceable to the Hebrew (and Phoenician) of the late Iron Age; 2) That it constitutes a late spelling pronunciation (Macuch, Grammatik, 84-85). I shall revisit the arguments for each of the proposals, including the following aspects. A) Is *ś > š a typologically likely shift? B) What is the early non-Samaritan evidence for *ś > š in northern Hebrew (and Phoenician)? C) What do Hebrew substrate words in Samaritan Aramaic and Arabic reveal about the pronunciation of *ś? D) What is the overall likelihood of a spelling pronunciation for this phoneme in the restricted corpus of Samaritan Hebrew?
Period26 Jul 2022
Event titleSamaritans through the Ages: History, Culture and Linguistics: 10th Conference of the Société d’études samaritaines
Event typeConference
LocationBudapest, HungaryShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational