Semitic Connections? Part One: Indo-European Writing Systems

I write anonymously for the simple reason that the revelation of my “fascistic” leanings would instantly and permanently prevent me from securing gainful employment in my field of choice. I put “fascistic” in quotes because it’s more complicated than that — but as anyone reading this likely knows, the steamrolling and monstrous bureaucracy of academia, despite their affinity for sexual deviance, sees no “shades of grey” when it comes to politics.

Nevertheless, when it comes to linguistic questions that have bearing on our folk, I hope I may have some helpful insight. I have a Ph.D. in linguistics, so maybe I can write something interesting, regardless of whether or not I’m in the belly of the aforementioned beast.

The topic at hand is one I’ve seen making rounds on the Internet. It’s something along the lines of this: Christianity is the true religion of White people because a) Jesus was anti-Jewish, and b) the Europeans are descendants of some non-Jewish tribe of Israel. Or something along these lines — I’m not totally sure because I can’t be bothered to investigate every last-ditch effort by modern Christians who are seeking to preserve their submissive death cult. I have plenty to research regarding the actual history of our people.

However, what I will not tolerate is a particular kind of evidence put forward by said Christians: that our languages date back to the ancient Semitic languages, Phoenician in particular (and of course, Hebrew too is a Semitic language, and they are a Semitic people). Or as one Twitter know-it-all put it: “Paleo Hebrew and Ancient Greek are the same language” and “Paleo Hebrew, Phoenician, Latin, and Germanic Runes are all the same language”.

Having seen the latter, I can dismiss one person’s incorrect claims and move on with my life. But seeing the latter in the context of the former, I realize that a larger issue is at play here. I think multiple Christians may actually believe this and are using this to  facilitate their continued Middle East LARPing. So let’s put an end to it.

Now, I am not one to wish for us to have any connection to Middle Eastern languages. I will not give my future children any name containing “El” or in fact any Biblical name. I do not say the word “Amen” in any context (I don’t bow my head either — I am kin to my gods, not submissive). It is important that our language has some kind of sanctity, and that we don’t unthinkingly abuse it. I reject the notion that being native speakers of English means that we are automatically privileged — far from it, we have to sit back and watch while our language is globalized, deracinated, and bastardized, and we have no “Yiddish” at home that we can revert to to maintain our ethnic identity.

All that being said, it is undoubtedly true that all the major European writing systems (Roman, Greek, Cyrillic, Gothic, and Runic) come, ultimately, from Phoenician, in the very particular sense that they (or at least, many of the characters) were borrowed from that culture. Take a look at the character gimel, which in Phoenician represents a voiced velar stop (a “hard g” sound):

 𐤂

(If your browser doesn’t render it, there are pictures at the Wikipedia page. It looks something like the number “1” without the lower cross-bar). Apparently, it is a glyph representing some kind of throwing stick. There is an equivalent Egyptian hieroglyphic:

T14

Here are the Hebrew and Aramaic versions of gimel, respectively. As mentioned, both of these languages are Semitic, like Phoenician. Jesus spoke Aramaic.

 𐡂 ג

The Hebrew appears to add an additional stroke. I’ll come back to that later in a different post. But the Aramaic looks pretty similar, just a little tilted.

Here’s the Cyrillic and Greek — they’re virtually the exact same as each other (I copied them from different sources, but you wouldn’t know it just by looking! (The Cyrillic, of course, comes from the Greek)):

Г Γ

For the Greek gamma and its Cyrillic counterpart compared to earlier forms, the main vertical bar has been straightened and the top cross-bar is leveled and facing right instead of left. But they’re quite clearly related. I’m no orthographist, so I’m not sure of the exact dates, but I think it’s safe to surmise that the Greek gamma was borrowed from the Phoenician gimel, or some close derivative of it, and not the corresponding Hebrew character.

Even the Indic scripts have correspondences. Below is the “g” sound in Brahmi script and Devanagari (there are many, many Indic scripts — these are just two, but they’re all more or less derived from the same source). Brahmi was used to write various vernaculars, including Pali, the language of early Buddhism, and Devanagari is used to write Sanskrit and modern Hindi (all three of those languages are Indo-Aryan, and distant cousins to English — the jury is out on what exactly the early Indo-Aryans looked like):

𑀕

For the Brahmi, the cross-bar and vertical bar are now equal lengths and both titled at the same angle, very close to the Aramaic gimel. The Devanagari takes a little imagination — it’s helpful to note that (almost) all Devanagari characters have a cross-bar running across the top (here’s a sample: संस्कृतम्). So without the extending cross-bar, we’re left with something that looks like a gamma, but with the shorter vertical bar (and an added little “hook”) on the left instead of the right.

So far, every character we’ve looked at, whether it’s Egyptian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Slavic, Pali, Sanskrit, or Hindi represents a “g” sound. And they are all connected by a common orthography. So an obvious question comes to mind: why does the character G in English look so different?

As it turns out, it really is not. In order to explain why, I’ll have to introduce a linguistic concept called “voicing”. Voicing happens when your voice box vibrates, and it’s a common way that a language distinguishes between two sounds which are otherwise identical. Saying an “s” sound and a “z” sound back-to-back reveals what voicing does (the “z” is voiced). So we might conclude that voiced sounds and their unvoiced counterparts are closely knit — and we would be correct to do so!

The “g” sound is voiced. Its unvoiced counterpart in English is commonly written as “K” but is sometimes written as “C”. Well, it turns out that in Latin, from which we get our alphabet, the “k” sound is always written as the character “C” because their is no character “K” in Latin. Our own English “K” comes straight from Greek. The conclusion: “C” is the key to this — the Romans developed that character to stand for the unvoiced version of the Phoenician (etc.) character used elsewhere. They curved it and turned it about -100 degrees or so.

C 𐤂

Then, to represent the voiced version, they just added an extra little part:

G

So why did the Romans make their “C” represent an unvoiced sound (the “k” sound) rather than the voiced version (“g”) as all the other Phoenician-derived alphabets did? I don’t know. It’s possible that by the time the Romans developed their own character “C”, whatever source they borrowed it from (or developed it from) was using it to represent a “g” sound that had over time devoiced into “k”, a common phenomenon. If you happen to know German or Dutch, think of a word like tag (meaning “day”). The “G” character in this word is a definitive “k” sound. If you were developing your own script to write some other language, and you wanted to borrow from the German alphabet, you might use “G” to represent a “k” sound.

The exact details of how this may happen during the spread of alphabet systems is not necessary for a general overview. What is necessary is that an observer wishing to see connections must understand that there is a relationship between sounds like “k” and “g” (and “b” and “p”, “s” and “z”, “t” and “d”, etc.) and that languages sometimes mix these up or change one into another. It happens all the time.

So, in conclusion, to say that English, or any other Indo-European language has Semitic influence, requires a bit of slight-of-hand. Yes, almost all scripts used to write Indo-European are developed ultimately from the Phoenician script. And the Phoenicians are a far cry from other

(Part Two coming soon, in which I discuss Runes and other systems on a more esoteric level. There is likely a reason, as far as I’m concerned, that the Runes look more natural and the Roman and Hebrew systems look more artificial…)