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Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in North-West Semitic.

Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in North-West Semitic. By YOSHIYUKI MUCHIKI. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series, vol. 173. Atlanta, Ga: SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE, 1999. Pp. xxv + 357. $48.

This monograph is the result of a dissertation designed to examine the evidence from epigraphic sources for the Egyptian vocables that have entered the Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages. There is also a section on Egyptian vocables in the Amarna tablets. This book will be a useful tool for Egyptologists and Semitists since it brings together all the relevant references and treats them in a logical and highly functional manner. Each chapter, pertaining to a particular language, deals with loan words and then with proper nouns, personal, divine, and geographical. This monograph should complement the book by Hoch (1) that brings together Semitic words attested in Egyptian texts. However, with regard to the latter work, there are limitations to its value due to a number of serious mistakes in evaluation of the Semitic evidence, (2)

Yoshiyuki begins each chapter with a review of the methodology that he has utilized in the sorting and analysis. In the lists themselves he marks the entries according to their relative value as reliable examples and he only uses those which are "certain" (marked by**) for the linguistic discussion that follows. This is an eminently sound procedure. The linguistic evaluation has to do with phonological correspondences only. There is no attempt to explore the semantic fields in which Egyptian vocables have been utilized in the Semitic languages. Nevertheless, the phonetic and graphic sphere is valuable. Note that we have added the term "graphic" because many of the cases cited are the result of graphic adaptation. The Semitic languages do not always have an alphabetic marker for the Egyptian consonants. Therefore, research in this area must take into account the orthographic practices in vogue in each of the languages studied, both synchronically and diachronically.

Here and there, this reviewer sought in vain for a full bibliographical reference matching some allusion in the linguistic sections. For example, one article sought was A. Lemaire (misspelled Lemairre) on page 101. (3) Another was an article (referred to on p. 100) by J. Naveh. (4) In a revised edition, the author should go carefully over all his bibliographical references and be sure they are in his bibliography at the end of the book.

As a case in point to illustrate the remarks above, the case of orthographies with Semitic samech will be discussed. First of all, it is imperative to clarify the problem of orthography in the Amarna tablets. Yoshiyuki brings two examples where Egyptian (/tj/) is supposedly represented by Semitic z. In each case, the problem is with the method of transcription and not with the phonetics. J. A. Knudtzon (5) made his transcriptions at the beginning of the twentieth century when a standard syllabary taking account of all the polyphonic values had yet to be established. Today it is well known that the signs with z can all be read, especially in Amarna peripheral with /s/ and with /s/. Thus, precisely because of the Egyptian t (/tj/) it is advisable to transcribe the two words in question as follows: pa-[si.sup.r][te.sup.1] "vizier" (EA 71:1), the equivalent of Egyptian p("")-t("")t(y); and sa-ab-na-ku-u "k""-vessel" (EA 14:: III, 54), the equivalent of t("")b-n-k(""). The correspondence between t (/tj/) and Semit ic samech is well attested. (6) There is nothing in the Amarna letters or in the corpus of Semitic words in Egyptian script (7) to contradict that equation. To the bibliography should be added the recent summary of the Egyptian vocables in the Amarna letters by Z. Cochavi-Rainey. (8)

Now, for the Egyptian words in Semitic languages, Egyptian (/tj/) is attested as s in Phoenician orthography (Yoshiyuki p. 48) from the mid-fifth to the third century B.C. It is represented by in personal names from the sixth to the fifth centuries B.C. (p. 182). And in Hebrew the t (/tj/) is simply transcribed by t, which probably means that in the vocable concerned the Egyptian t had already become /t/. It is noteworthy that Egyptian (/tj/) is no longer transcribed in any of these languages by samech! The principal reason for this is undoubtedly that samech had changed in phonetic value in the meantime. During the time of the Phoenician, Aramaic, and Hebrew inscriptions documented by Yoshiyuki, the samech served to transcribe Egyptian /s/. This Iron Age practice was due to a phonetic shift of samech to /s/ (the equivalent of sin). But there is a good orthographic reason as well. In the unpointed script there was no way to distinguish between shin and sin. In most cases, the native speakers (readers) would h ave had no trouble distinguishing the proper phoneme from the context, and good West Semitic words with sin were usually spelled with sin. The Phoenician attestation of the word for "ten" spelled [subset]sr instead of [subset]sr (Eshmunezer 1. 1) is unusual for the fifth century. The "shibboleth" story in the Hebrew Bible (Judges 12:5-6) is surely a good case in point. The writer had to spell the one example with samech because he only had signs for /s/ and /s/ [sim]/s/. If he had recorded the story using the /s/ sign, the reader would not be able to get the point that the Ephraimites pronounced the word in question with /s/ instead of /s/.

On the other hand, one must note orthographies such as ramses (with samech). The spelling certainly is not reflective of a second-millennium text. The awareness of the land and city of Ramses may be earlier, but the orthography with samech is a late phenomenon.

The evidence mustered by Yoshiyuki may prove helpful in determining the date for the substitution of samech for sin. Of course, most spellings with sin continued in use until the Hellenistic or even the Roman periods, but many words, e.g., in Mishnaic Hebrew, came to be used exclusively with samech: [subset]eseq (Gen. 26:20), [subset]eseq. But in the transcriptions of foreign words, in this case Egyptian vocables, the dated examples may give some indication of when the samech became /s/. The earliest case presented by Yoshiyuki is apparently the personal name pt[contains]s = p("")-d(l)-""s(.t) "He whom Isis has given," on a seal (9) in Aramaic script (p. 112), which may date from the late-eighth or early-seventh century B.C. (10) Incidentally, it took me several hours of searching and checking references on the point. This was because Vattioni's study of Phoenician seals and Lemaire's publication of six Aramaic seals (mentioned above) were not mentioned on pp. 61-62 under "Journals." Although Yoshiyuki stress es the eighth-century date as the earliest attestation of samech for Egyptian /s/, he fails to indicate which Aramaic example had the eighth-century date.

Perusing Yoshiyuki's monograph, and also using it for reference, was a pleasure. It is important that such a tool be made available to scholars in this field. One might suggest that a further project by the author would be to gather the Egyptian vocables in Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian cuneiform texts. It might also be useful to peruse the Ammonite and Edomite epigraphic materials for more Egyptian words, though off-hand, none such come to mind.

(1.) James E. Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1994).

(2.) Cf. A. F. Rainey, "Egyptian Evidence for Semitic Linguistics," Israel Oriental Studies 18 (1998): 431-53.

(3.) A. Lemaire, "Cinq sceaux arameens inscrits inedits," Syria 59 (1982): 106-9.

(4.) J. Naveh, "The Aramaic Ostraca from Tel Beer-sheba," Tel Aviv 6 (1979): 182-95.

(5.) J. A. Knudtzon, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, Vorderasiatische Bibliotek, vol. 2. (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1915).

(6.) A. F. Rainey, "Toponymic Problems (cont.), Syria, The Brook of Egypt, Shur = The Wall of Egypt, Egyptian TJ = Semitic Samech," Tel Aviv 9(1982): 130-36.

(7.) Rainey, "Egyptian Evidence for Semitic Linguistics," 451.

(8.) Z. Cochavi-Rainey, "Egyptian Influence in the Amarna Texts," Ugarit-Forschungen 29 (1997, appeared 1998): 95-114.

(9.) F. Vattioni, "I sigilli fenici," Annali dell' Instituto Orientale di Napoli 41 (1981): 177-93.

(10.) L. G. Herr, The Scripts of Ancient Northwest Semitic Seals (Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1978), 30, no. 48.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Rainey, A. F.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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