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View Diary: A Jew Gene Jamboree! (253 comments)

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  •  Basically, (5+ / 0-)
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    sofia, zemblan, Lazar, volleyboy1, canadian gal

    there's a letter in the Hebrew alphabet called tzadi. It represents a [ts] sound, like in "cats." In linguistics, a sound like is called an affricate, and the process by which it becomes an affricate is called affrication.

    In similar languages such as Arabic and Neo-Aramaic, tzadi is not only not an affricate, it is also de-pharyngealized. Pharyngealization is a common feature of many Semitic languages, and it involves the constriction of the pharynx, which is behind the uvula (the hangy thing in the back of the throat) and above the vocal cords. The sound comes out deeper and tenser. So you can have a normal [s] sound and a pharyngealized [sˤ] sound. This webpage shows the difference between pharyngealized and non-pharyngealized sounds in Arabic.

    My question to WIds was about the origins of this sound change in the language. In other words, do we know anything about what precipitated this change?

    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

    by unspeakable on Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 06:09:36 PM PST

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