At 2:30 pm +0300 14/4/00, Dan Sulani wrote:
>(Why there is a /b/ in the middle is another question.
>The verb "to swear an oath" can have either /b/
>or /v/, depending upon what part of the paradigm
>one is referring to. [/b/ is usually found in the passive,
>for example.] In Israel, the name is pronounced  /eliSeva/
>with a /v/. )
>In Hebrew, the name is written:
>(aleph-lamed-yod = my God
>shin-vet-'ayen = oath)
>    The 'ayen at the end is, AFAIK, a pharyngeal sound.
>How that changed into an alveolar or even interdental,

Change to an interdental is easily explained - spelling pronunciation by
anglophones  :)

The Greek form ends in tau, not theta. Why -h got added in the Latin
'Elisabeth' is problematic.  Maybe it was the influence of 'beth' in some
well-known place names.  Anyway, the -h was silent.

>I don't know. I do seem to recall that the development
>from /h/ to /s/ is attested to in some languages
>(sorry, I forget which). Perhaps something similar

Change from [s] to [h] is common enough; change in the other direction is,
if it occurs, much rarer.

But I think we're looking in the wrong place.  The assumption being made is
that the name is borrowed directly from Hebrew; I doubt it.  IIRC the name
occurs only in the New Testament as the mother of John the Baptist.  The
Greek 'Elisabet' would surely be transcribing an _Aramaic_ form of the
name, would it not?

Does anyone know what the Aramaic form of would be, corresponding to Hebrew
/eliSeva/ ?


A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                   [J.G. Hamann 1760]