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Extra info for Answer Key to Al-Kitaab Fii Ta Callum al-CArabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic: Part Two

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The origin of this designation is the genealogical record of Genesis 10. 21–31, according to which the peoples employing these languages were descendants of Shem, son of Noah. These peoples occupied a territory extending from the Mediterranean to the other side of the Euphrates up to the Tigris, or Mesopotamia, and from the mountains of Armenia to the southern coast of Arabia. Through conquests and migrations these languages spread also to parts of Africa and Europe. , Genesis 10. 15–20) are traced in the Bible back to Ham, probably on account of their being a mixed race and also because, owing to their paganism, they were regarded with contempt by the biblical writers.

Evidently the process of language transmission is imperfect. Both our hearing and our capacity for articulating or imitating << Chapter >> 30 Home | TOC | Index Hebrew: The Eternal Language the sounds which we hear are imperfect and inexact. Hence language is subject to modification and change. Both growth and decay are characteristics of language development, as they are of biological development. Some phonetic elements gradually disintegrate and disappear, while new ones sprout and emerge. Occasionally, the variations are so great as to produce an entirely new offshoot, a new dialect or a new member of the language family.

What is the explanation, in the case of Hebrew, of this unique linguistic phenomenon? How did the Hebrew language escape the transmuting effects of time which are in evidence in other languages? To be sure, the fact that the ancient biblical texts lacked a fixed system of vocalization and were very scantily supplied with vowel-signs is in large measure responsible for the seeming phonetic uniformity of the Hebrew language. But it cannot be doubted that the Bible and the esteem with which it has been cherished throughout the centuries, counteracted and prevented fundamental changes in the structure of the language.

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