Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Weni Widi Wiki!

NATIVLANG: What Latin Sounded Like - and how we know.

HT James McGrath. Entertaining and informative, if sometimes a bit technical for non-specialists. This looks like an interesting YouTube channel worth keeping an eye on.

As with Latin, we know a fair bit through various indirect means about the original pronunciation of Hebrew. It was quite different from both the medieval Masoretic pronunciation and the modern Israeli pronunciation. Philologists have even been able to reconstruct a good bit of information about the pronunciations of ancient Phoenician and Ugaritic, again by means of indirect inferences like the ones mentioned in the video for Latin. These include comparison with the pronunciations of later Semitic languages, hints within the phonology inherent in the ancient alphabets, and transliterations in other languages such as Akkadian, Greek, and Latin. Reconstructions of ancient Northwest Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician, Ugaritic) are especially challenging because their alphabets gave little to no information about the vowels of the languages.