Rashi script (and signed languages)
Sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Jun 17 22:53:53 UTC 2002
Hello Izzy - Thanks for this message. I have forwarded it to our
SignWriting List Members, who may be interested. Val ;-)
From: "Cohen, Izzy" <Izzy_Cohen at bmc.com>
To: DAC at SignWriting.org
Subject: Rashi script (and signed languages)
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002
>Valarie Sutton --
>Because sign languages probably existed before standard
>written languages, I thought this item might be of
>interest to you.
>Israel "izzy" Cohen
>izzy_cohen at bmc.com
>* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
>"fcwa2002" <fcwa2002 at yahoo.com.ar> wrote:
>Does anybody know if there is a relation between the fingers and the
>hebrew letters? I wonder where can I find any information about what
>Judaism (maybe specially Kabbalah) says about hands and fingers.
>1 - Stan Tenen of the Meru Foundation believes that Hebrew letters are
> based on shapes generated by images of the hand. For example, browse
> and in particular, "The God of Abraham: A Mathematician's View" at
> The idea that hand/sign-langusge preceded written language is not
> far-fetched. In a hunter-gatherer society, silent hand signals
> would enable a group to communicate without alerting their prey.
> American Indians were able to communicate coast-to-coast with a
> fairly uniform sign language long after their spoken languages
> had become mutually unintelligible.
>2 - I asked Stan Tenen why he believes the Rashi script is older than
> Asheris Meruba (the standard square Hebrew script). He replied:
> "Because it's more similar to the script on the Elephantine Papyrus,
> and because all of the letters are generated as 2-dimensional
> outlines of a single 3-dimensional object -- a model "hand"-shaped
> "tefillin strap", bound on the hand. The specially shaped tefillin
> strap is defined by the sequence of letters at the beginning of
> B'reshit, by the Sh'ma, and as described in a wide variety of
> Kabbalistic texts."
>On the Antiquity of the (so-called) Rashi Script
>Dan "Moonhawk" Alford wrote:
>> ... one Sanskrit tradition closer to the writing demands keeping
>> the sounds accurate in order to preserve their vibrational power
>> even if the verbal meaning fades; another, spoken, tradition demands
>> staying with the meaning while the regional sounds become variable.
>[This is easier to read with a Courier non-proportional font.]
>I find both of the above "traditions" happening in (proto) Hebrew.
>When the sound of a letter changes, for example:
>aleph - GHT/CHS --> T --> current glottal stop (written as ? below).
>The Rashi aleph is similar to a modern het. This is evidence that
>the ancient aleph once had a somewhat het-like sound.
>bet - MB --> B
>The Rashi bet looks somewhat like an M turned 90 deg clockwise.
>Compare Latin mansio = abode & Hebrew BayiS; mausoleum & beis-3olam.
>heh - DH --> H
>The Rashi heh looks like a modern taf/saf turned 90 deg clockwise.
>Linguists equate the taf with TH/DH, but it seems the ancient heh
>had a DH sound. This may explain why heh is the definite article
>in Hebrew while "the" has this function in English.
>vav - F --> V
>het1 - W --> KH (written as X below) Compare ancient Greek digamma
> and Germanic Wynn.
>het2 - X = KS --> KH (compare English/Spanish Mexico)
>yod - G/K --> Y
>mem - a "lazy" mem (made with the mouth not fully closed)
> sometimes sounds like a W in other languages.
>aiyin - G/K --> almost soundless velar (written as 3 below)
>tzadi - S --> TZ
>The Rashi tzadi has a thin S shape.
>shin - D/T --> SH (note the T in English -tion and -tial suffixes)
>The Rashi shin looks like a modern tet turned 90 deg clockwise.
>This is evidence that the ancient shin had a tet-like sound.
>SHeN = tooth. Compare TaN = jackal, TaNiN = crocodile. Giving the
>ancient shin a dental sound makes SHeN cognate with L dens and
>Sanskrit dánta; and LaTiN/LaDiNo related to LaSHoN = tongue.
>sounds of resh/nun/lamed rotate. Often: lamed = N, nun = R, resh = L.
>1 - The word retains its original spelling but acquires the new sound.
> This occurs most often.
> Example 1: bet-aleph = come, come in
> BaCHS --> Ba? (where ? = glottal stop)
> Compare Bacchus, Gk god of wine/fertility; female body-part box.
> For semantic range, compare English "come on to" = sexual advance
> and the noun "come" = semen.
> Example 2: "Fire, Women, and Other Dangerous Things"
> aleph-shin oCHSa:D --> ?a:SH = fire
> Compare oxid(ation), the essence of fire.
> *shin-heh-aleph D/T-[D]H-oGHT --> aleph-shin-heh
> ?iSHaH = wife, woman. Compare daughter/Tochter. In ancient
> times, the Hebrew wife went to live with the tribe of her
> husband. For everyone else, she was like another daughter.
> After the aleph lost its sound, it usually moved to the beginning
> of the Hebrew word, so most correspondences (today) have the form:
> aleph-C1-(C2) = C1-(C2)-GHT. Compare Belova's Law.
>2 - The word retains its original sound but becomes respelled with
> other letters that afterwards most nearly represent that sound.
> This occurs less often. I call this the NBOW (new bottle,
> old whine) phenomena. This may involve "borrowing back" the
> original sound from a neighboring language in which that sound
> did not change.
> het-shin replaces aleph. In Aramaic, het-dalet replaces aleph.
> *aleph-bet = 1,2 = *to count --> het-shin-bet KHaTaV --> KHaSHaV
> = to count. Compare Latin abacus < Gk ábax = a counting board.
> *aleph-bet-lamed --> het-shin-mem-lamed=(color of) amber/electrum
> Ezekiel 1:4 --> XaSHMaL = electricity
> electrum = an ancient amber-colored alloy of gold and silver.
> Amber becomes charged with static electricity when rubbed.
> *nun-aleph-saf --> nun-het-shin-taf NaXoSHeT = copper.
> Compare het-yod-nun-heh XeNaH = henna (copper colored)
> *nun-aleph --> nun-het-shin = snake. Compare Eunectes murinus
> = anaconda < anacandaia < Sinhalese henakandaya
> Another example: Hebrew has replaced the presumed *heh = DH with
> a dalet. Greek and Latin lost the D in the DH and have an H-sound:
> DaM = blood Gk HeMo-/HaeMo- Gk HaiMa = blood
> DaMem = bleeds Gk HyMen = membrane (that bleeds when
>?aDoM = red compare earth (below) and Gk erythrós = red
>?aDaM = Adam, man, mankind Latin HoMo = man, HuMman; but compare Gk
> DeMos = people, population
> ?aDaMah = ground, earth = Latin HuMus ~ Gk cHaMaí = on the ground
> DiMooY = image Latin iMaGinem < imago=a copy, likeness
> DoNaG = (bees)wax OE HuNiG = honey
> DVoRah = bee OE HyF = (bee)hive [maybe]
> DaGaR = hatch ME HaCchen; ~ MHG hecken = to
> DuR = circle, Talmudic: rim Gk HáLos = circle, halo
> DaG = fish OE HaCa = hake
> DaG = fish MD HoK = hook, angle; OHG hako=hook
> DaG < *DHaG and Gk iCH-THi = fish are reversals of each other.
>3 - Both 1 and 2 occur, creating synonyms where 2 seemingly
> different words have the same meaning.
> SHaD = breast This word has the older letters but the newer sound.
> Compare [T]Chad (an area south of Lybia < LeV = heart,
> south of the Gulf of Sidra = SHiDRa = spine, backbone
> on an anthropomorphic body-part map of north Africa.
> DaD = breast This word has the newer letters but the older sound.
> Compare teat/tit; titer/titrate (drop by drop).
>4 - Based on the ancient sounds suggested above, YH+VH becomes very
>5 - It is well-documented that "Rashi" script was adopted by printers
> as a convenient method to make a clear visual distinction between
> Talmudic text and later commentary, especially that of Rashi. But
> the script is *not* an arbitrary design. If the shape of a Rashi
> letter significantly differs from the standard script, the change
> represents an ancient difference in pronunciation.
> The pronunciation elicited by the Rashi script is OLDER. In other
> words, it is as though the printers used an older script to represent
> newer writings simply because the older script was still recognizable,
> readable and sufficiently "different" to accomplish their goal. The
> Rashi script may have still been used by descendents of Jews who were
> not taken to Babylonia.
>izzy_cohen at bmc.com
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