Re: The common name for Nesanajl #general

Robert Israel <israel@...>

Stan Goodman wrote:

More precisely, modern Israeli Hebrew has replaced the "th" sound
with "t". Yemenite pronunciation keeps it, I am told. The use of
"th" in English renderings of biblical names probably reflects the
actual pronunciation at some period of time.
I don't think so. The parallel letter in Arabic is also a simple "T". For
the "Th" to have got into European languages >from Hebrew, that would have
had to be the pronunciation in the Levant when Europeans started to
transliterate Biblical names/words >from Hebrew, e.g. when they became
Christians (which is not deep in antiquity. I suspect that the origin of the
"Th" lies in a failed effort to differentiate TAV >from TET (which should
indeed be differentiated, but not this way); Greek may well have tried to
assign its Theta to the TAV. Or the effort may have taken place later, in
Germany, which is presumably also the source of all the "J's" in
transliterated Hebrew, which by rights should be pronounced as "Y" rather
than as "Dzh -- unless you are also arguing that there was really a
Patriarch Dzha'aqov.
The transliterations came into English >from the Septuagint (the Greek
translation of the bible, starting in the third century BCE), which
rendered tav (or thav) as theta, via the Vulgate (Latin).

As for J, it would have been iota in Greek, I in Latin: a shift of the
sound of I (when used as a consonant) to something like our English J
sound in Latin and related languages occurred by the 6th century CE.
The introduction of the letter J for this sound didn't come until
about the 17th century. Germany had nothing to do with it, AFAIK.

Robert Israel
Department of Mathematics
University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada

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