Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Important News and Some Random Linguistic Musings

Yes, it's happening. At the age of fifty, I am actively chasing yet another language. 

When I met and then married a Romanian just over a decade ago, I thought acquiring her Romance language would be my last linguistic conquest. I put in the necessary work. I am a highly competent speaker of Romanian today. 

But then, on Monday, December 19, came unexpected news. The bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church I attend has directed me to come to the cathedral to be ordained a deacon. 

I say it is unexpected because a petition for ordination had been made to his predecessor (at his own request) over five years ago. The lack of a response had rendered me resigned to the probability that it would not ever happen.

The date of ordination is January 8, 2016.

I humbly accept ordained ministry in the Church I so love. And I further accept that ministry specifically in the Russian Orthodox Church deserves an effort on my part to acquire at least some facility in the language.

As I have begun my studies, I was reminded of the Russian word for snow, снег (sneg). I had previously encountered it while researching the words for snow in Latin and other languages.

But, because I am simultaneously reviewing all of my languages, it occurred to me that there is a curious similarity between the Indo-European word for snow (essentially preserved in the Russian) and Semitic.

The Hebrew word for snow is שֶׁלֶג (sheleg). The Arabic preserves the original initial sound 'th' in its word for snow, ثلج (thalj).

A correlation between Indo-European N and Semitic L is otherwise attested.

The Indo-European family has words that begin with n- for negation (no, non, ne, etc), while the Semitic word for 'no' begins with l- (laa, Arabic, lo, Hebrew). Combine that with the words for night--Arabic layla and Latin nox, and you have an interesting potential correspondence. 

And so, the two languages have interestingly similar words for snow, a sibilant/fricative, followed by the attested N/L correspondence, and concluding with a voiced velar plosive.

It always remains true that this could be either a complete chance similarity or even some type of borrowing from one language to another. 

I have previously made wild speculative assertions regarding the potential of wresting evidence for Proto-Human from the available linguistic data pool.

And so, I offer these reflections in the interest of further study. And I ask your prayers as I continue my linguistic and spiritual preparations.




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