(a) In Hebrew: some names of objects which were originally indigenous in Babylonia and Assyria (see a comprehensive list of Assyrio-Babylonian loan-words in the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament in Zimmern and Winckler, KAT.3 ii. p. 648 ff.), in Egypt, Persia, or India, e.g. יְאֹר (also in the plural) river, from Egyptian yoor, generally as the name of the Nile (late Egypt. yaro, Assyr. yaruʾu), although it is possible that a pure Semitic יאר has been confounded with the Egyptian name of the Nile (so Zimmern); אָ֫חוּ (Egyptian) Nile-reed (see Lieblein, 'Mots égyptiens dans la Bible,' in PSBA. 1898, p. 202 f.); פַּרְדֵּס (in Zend pairidaêza, circumvallation = παράδειδος) pleasure-garden, park; אַדַרְכּוֹן daric, Persian gold coin; תֻּכִּיִּים peacocks, perhaps from the Malabar tôgai or tôghai. Some of these words are also found in Greek, as כַּרְפַּס (Pers. karbâs, Skt. karpâsa) cotton, κάρπασος, carbasus. On the other hand it is doubtful if קוֹף corresponds to the Greek κῆπος, κῆβος, Skt. kapi, ape.
(b) In Greek, &c.: some originally Semitic names of Asiatic products and articles of commerce, e.g. בּוּץ βύσσος, byssus; לְבֹנָה, λίβανος, λιβανωτός, incense; קָנֶה κάνη, κάννα, canna, cane; כַּמֹּן κύμινον, cuminum, cumin; קְצִיעָה κασσία, cassia; גָּמָל κάμηλος, ; עֵֽרָּבוֹן ἀρραβών, arrhabo, arrha, pledge. Such transitions have perhaps been brought about chiefly by Phoenician trade. Cf. A. Müller, 'Semitische Lehnworte im älteren Griechisch,' in Bezzenberger's Beitrage zur Kunde der Indo-germ. Sprachen, Göttingen, 1877, vol. i. p. 273 ff.; E. Ries, Quae res et vocabula a gentibus semiticis in Graeciam pervenerint, Breslau, 1890; Muss-Arnolt, 'Semitic words in Greek and Latin,' in the Transactions of the American Philological Association, xxiii. p. 35 ff.; H. Lewy, Die semitischen Fremdwörter im Griech., Berlin, 1895; J. H. Bondi, Dem hebr.-phöniz. Sprachzweige angehör. Lehnworter in hieroglyph, m. hieratischen Texten, Lpz. 1886.
[1k] 5. No system of writing is ever so perfect as to be able to reproduce the sounds of a language in all their various shades, and the writing of the Semites has one striking fundamental defect, viz. that only the consonants (which indeed form the substance of the language) are written as real letters, whilst of the vowels only the longer are indicated by certain representative consonants (see below, §7). It was only later that special small marks (points or strokes below or above the consonants) were invented to represent to the eye all the vowel-sounds (see §8). These are, however, superfluous for the practised reader, and are therefore often wholly omitted in Semitic manuscripts and printed texts. Semitic writing, moreover, almost invariably proceeds from right to left.
- Critical annotation: It is unclear why this word is spelled here with a Dagesh in ר and with a Mèthĕg.—A. E. A.
- So also originally the Ethiopic writing, which afterwards represented the vowels by small appendages to the consonants, or by some other change in their form. On the Assyrio-Babylonian cuneiform writing, which likewise indicates the vowels, see the next note, ad fin.
- The Sabaean (Himyaritic) writing runs occasionally from left to right, and even alternately in both directions (boustrophedon), but as a rule from right to left. In Ethiopic writing the direction from left to right has become the rule; some few old inscriptions exhibit, however, the opposite direction. The cuneiform writing also runs from left to right, but this is undoubtedly borrowed from a non-Semitic people. Cf. §5d, note 3.