From Old Babylonian to Levantine

One of the words which were frequently repeated in the film entiltled The Poor Man of Nippur, World's first film in Babylonian, was ENZU, the word for a goat in Old Babylonian or Southern Akkadian. This word is still in use in Levantine, the main spoken lanuage in the Levant. Indeed, the word found in Levantine and written in Arabic script as عنزة is very similar to the Old Babylonian word, Enzu. Comparing between the words for goat in Modern Semitic languages, I have found out that the word in Levantine is the closest for having preserved the consonant (N) which seems to have been lost in all the other Modern Semitic languages apart from Levantine. Take for exemple the word for goat in Modern Hebrew ,עז , it can be spelled Ez in English. Semilarly, the word for goat in the Aramaic of Maalula, עזא, Izah, and in Syriac ܥܶܙܳܐ, Izu, have no or have lost the consonant (N). Moreover, there is no surprise that the word for goat in Arabic, ماعز, Maiz, is too different from its counterparts in above-mentioned Modern Semitic or basically Semitic languages. Given Arabic, has been an Imperial language which has absorbed words from many Afroasiatic languages as well as Indo-aryan languages, it can be hardly classified as a Semitic language. However, the equivalent for goat in Arabic does not have the consonant (N) either. Clearly, Levantine seems to have preserved the original pronunciation of the word for goat for thousand of years.

Rami IBRAHIM ©


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