The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Monday, February 06, 2017

West-Semitic min

I was re-reading my Ugaritic Primer last weekend, to see if I might make more of it now (having Hebrew and Safaitic) than I made in 2009 (having MSA only). I did a lot better this time, to the point I threw up a review.

One thing I noticed in Ugaritic is the lack of a word dedicated to "from". It overloads li-, confusingly; I'm used to li- for "for". The Qur'an uses min or sometimes mina. If before ("what"), the suras usually conjoin the twain to mimmâ, "whence"; but even here Q. 4:25 and 63:10 are exceptions. Hebrew conjoins min a lot. It's often a prefix in that language, dropping the "n" and doubling the first consonant of the next word. Like how Qur'anic / Classical Arabic spells out the al- prefix, but elides the "l" as a doubled consonant in front of dentals.

And then there's Safaitic. Al-Jallad believes that this is a dialect-cloud of mutually-intelligible Ancient North Arabian, including the ancestor to Qur'anic Arabic; so deserves to be called an earlier stage of Arabic. Worth note here is that Safaitic, like Hebrew and not like classical Arabic, treats min like a prefix (p. 51). Again, with exceptions.

The min-as-prefix looks like a shared Iron-Age feature of proto-Arabic and the still-living Hebrew of Biblical Judah. For min as a (usually) standalone word, this sounds like the more-careful speech of a rhetor not necessarily native to the South-Syrian Semites. Either way I'll add it to the isogloss list.

posted by Zimri on 17:53 | link | 0 comments

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