CHAPTER 46

THE PRONOUNS

THE PERSONAL PRONOUNS

Semitic etymologists believe the Hebrew first-person, singular pronoun, ani589 = "I" is composed of two elements. The first element is an575, a contracted form of ayin369, = "to be nothing," "to not exist," "a nonentity." The second element is ee = "island." Brown, Driver and Briggs classify the latter under the general form of Ah, and its several derivatives: as an adverb, "whence" or "where," as an interjection, "alas," and as a different adverb, "not," and "nought335-339." One might assume that the "island" meaning came from a geographical entity which does not amount to much in comparison to the continental land masses. We saw ee used by St. Columba in the naming of his island we know as Iona.
 

Literally, in Hebrew, ani means "an island nonentity," or perhaps "a lonely nothing."
 

Confusion may exist on the linguistic origin of "island" because it is represented by the Hebrew yod and one cannot simply write yod by itself in Hebrew script. It is written with the help of aleph. The origin of ani also may not be simple because the ee (yod) ending is found on all words which indicate the first person singular, both nouns and verbs: moothee = "my death," libbee = "my heart," lamadtee = "I study."
 

OED has a lengthy dissertation on the form of the "I" letter in English, and its ultimate origins through Greek and the Puni (Hebrew) yod. The English "I" was earlier pronounced the same as the Hebrew yod, as a long ee.
 

In the Mediterranean and eastern European languages "I" was sounded with a hard "k," "kh," or "g" sound, found in Greek and Roman ego, German ich, Gothic ic, Norwegian eg, and so on. Again, English shows reversion to the more original Semitic phonetics.
 

(In Greek, the name yod became "iota" by shifting the "d" to a "t" and adding an "a." We know it in English as "jot.")
 

The Greek and Roman e(g)o is composed of the Semitic "ee" married with the Indo-European "o" first person ending, found in Latin amo and in Greek philio = "I love." The form of the pronunciation was more like i'o, with the glottal stop. This marriage suggests that Greek and Latin did not abandon the IE first person singular "o" form, but retained it under the Hebrew/Semitic "ee" influence.
 

Although the English first person, singular "I" may show a correlation with the Hebrew first person singular inflectional ending, the third person, singular pronouns are far more interesting.
 

Consider the following tabulationEOH:
 

THIRD PERSON SINGULAR PRONOUNS

Language

Masculine

Feminine

English

he

she

Hebrew

hu

he

Aramaic

hu

he

Arabic

huwa

hea

Mehri

he

se

Minean

su

se

Akkadian

shu

she

Assyrian

shu

she

Egyptian

siu

si

 

It is plainly evident that the third person, singular pronouns in modern English are identical to those of the ancient Semitic/Hamitic languages. The masculine "he" is found in the masculine Mehri, and the feminine "she" is found in both feminine Akkadian and Assyrian. It can be seen also that in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic, the feminine took on the masculine "h" while losing the feminine "s." It can be seen further that the predominant Semitic masculine ending is "u," while the feminine is "e."
 

In 1936, E. A. Speiser, a noted Hebrew scholar who wrote the Anchor Books volume of Genesis, published a detailed study of these formatives (affixes), and their origins in the Semitic languagesOBS. From his study Speiser proposed that the original Semitic mother tongue used "h" for the masculine, and "s" for the feminine. Individual languages which had swapped the initial phoneme, identification was still possible because of the masculine "u" and the feminine "e" inflectional endings.

Are the parallels of modern English third person pronouns with the ancient Semitic third person pronouns a linguistic accident?

 

Consider use of English forms in various dialects over the past 1500 years.
 

EXAMPLES OF ENGLISH HE AND SHE 
(Not indication of evolution.)

  Masculine Feminine

Old English

hu

he

Old Frisian

hi

hio

c. 1200

he

heo

c. 1300

hu

shu

Went to:

he

sio or sie

English

he

she

 

It is immediately obvious that Old English had the identical form of the Semitic third person pronouns, both masculine and feminine, found in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. If the origin of the Old English pronouns was Semitic that origin was Hebrew, and not Akkadian, Assyrian, or Egyptian.
 

This list has many forms common with the Semitic list. They include not only "he" and "she," but also "hu," "sio/siu," and "shu." The linguistic forces which led to variations in the Semitic languages were apparently the same as those which were at work in the Teutonic languages.
 

What is our understanding of the origin of the modern English "he" and "she?"
 

OED states that an original Teutonic demonstrative stem hi = "this" supplied not only the pronouns him, his, her, and (h)it, but also the adverbs here, hence, and hither, Old English he, and Old Saxon hi. Other Teutonic languages apparently dropped the "h" to build upon a stem i, illustrated in Old High German ir, er, and Gothic is.
 

This does not explain how the hu got into Old English, except through a linguistic process commonly at work on the personal pronouns in both Semitic and Teutonic languages. The swapping back and forth between the "u" and "e" inflectional endings, which Speiser identified respectively as masculine and feminine in an original Semitic mother tongue, shows a fluid state of evolution in the English language. Did the Hebrew personal pronoun he serve as the origin of the Teutonic demonstrative hi? Is it possible the Semitic third person pronouns were carried into the Teutonic languages in their actual application, and that the demonstrative pronouns derived from them, not vice versa? Our ability to rigorously determine these relationships is buried in the obscurity of available linguistic evidence.
 

A similar difficulty faces us in attempts to understand the origins of the English feminine she. OED remarks that she is "of difficult etymology, but probably an altered form of the Old English demonstrative sio, sie. ...The phonetic development (of she) is exactly parallel to that of the Old English feminine personal pronoun hio and he." In other words, etymologists are uncertain of that evolution, although similar parallels between he and she are indicated in the historic record. Evolution into she is assumed due to a conflict on meaning between the masculine and feminine forms. "...The phonetic development of various dialects had in the 12th and 13th centuries rendered the pronouns he (masc.) and heo (fem.) almost indistinguishable in pronunciation." This was a strong motive for resorting to the demonstrative sio (shu) and sie (she).
 

The ability to trace these developments is complicated by related words. Under etymology of the word the OED states that sie (she) may be "...the reduced and flectionless stem of the Old English se and seo..." which later shifted to the, theo, and thaet, with the last our modern that. A related sa demonstrative was a common Teutonic and Indo-European stem found in Old Saxon se, Old Norse sa, Gothic sa, Sanskrit sa, and Gaelic so, all related to a shifted tha found in Slavonic ta, Greek to, Sanskrit ta, Latin tam and tum.
 

Obviously, the different forms of the pronouns, both demonstrative and personal, have a complex interrelationship and evolution, in phonetics and meaning, in both the Semitic and Indo-European languages.
 

The curiosity once again is the reversion of the English third person singular pronouns to Hebrew phonetics and meaning, a reversion which is not found in other Teutonic languages.

 

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS

Hebrew has the following demonstrative pronouns:
 

Singular

Plural

English

Hebrew

English

Hebrew

this 
(m)

ze (za)

these

elle

this 
(f)

zoth

 

 

that 
(m)

hu

those (m)

hem

that 
(f)

he

those 
(f)

hen

yonder 
(m)

hallaze

yonder

hallaz

yonder 
(f)

hallezu

 

 

 

The masculine and feminine of the Hebrew singular that are the same as the personal pronouns, "hu" and "he." The masculine and feminine of the Hebrew plural those are the same as the inflectional endings on the Hebrew third person, plural nouns, "-hem," and "-hen." Thus, they are mere borrowings from the pronoun and noun inflections. If these forms came into the European languages as demonstratives we would not be able to easily distinguish them from the personal pronouns and noun inflectional influences.
 

However, the masculine this = "ze," a word heightened in sound from a lost accusative "za," finds parallels in Teutonic Europe. The plural these = "elle," finds strong influence in Latin and the Romance languages.

In the statements I quoted above from OED about the origin of the English the, it was noted that a proposed original Teutonic stem sa was the nominative singular masculine and feminine base. In a Kentish dialect of the 14th century this shows up as ze masculine and zy feminine. In the course of evolution the "t" also shifted to "d," found in modern German der, die, and das. Thus much evidence exists for a fluid swapping through time of "t," "d," "s," and "z" sounds, among the several Teutonic languages and dialects.
 

From this evidence we see there are no formidable linguistic barriers to propose that the Hebrew za demonstrative could have been the source of the Teutonic sa demonstrative. The resulting complex of English "the," "this," "these," "those," "that," and similar words, would have resulted from that one ancient Hebrew stem. However, the underlying influence of a more ancient Semitic demonstrative sa cannot be ignored. If it existed prior to the separate development of the Indo-European and Semitic languages a proposal of influence from Hebrew za upon the Teutonic languages may be amiss. The Hebrew za was merely part of the linguistic heritage from the more ancient Semitic mother tongues. The evolution of these linguistic paths is far too complex for us settle on a definitive origin.
 

On the other hand, the related se may have come out of the Hebrew ze.
 

More enlightening than the Teutonic demonstratives are those found in Latin and the Romance languages.
 

Frederick Bodmer, in The Loom of LanguageTLL, provided graphical illustrations of the influence upon the Romance languages of the Latin nominative singular demonstratives ille and illa = "that," and the plural llli, and illae, together with the accusative plurals, illos, and illas = "those." Refer to the pictures below.

 

 

How the Latin Singular Demonstrative Pronouns went into the Romance Languages

 

How the Latin Plural Demonstrative Pronouns went into the Romance Languages

 

We can recognize immediately how the Latin demonstratives went into French, Spanish, and Italian third person personal pronouns, both singular and plural. This is a process parallel with the Teutonic sa and se demonstratives going into English third person personal pronouns. It is the reverse process as Hebrew third person personal pronouns or inflections becoming demonstratives.
 

Important to this discussion is the origin of the Latin ille = "that," the singular, masculine, nominative demonstrative pronoun. Illi = "those" is the plural. The feminine forms are illa and illae. The Hebrew nominative, plural demonstrative pronoun is elle = "these," both masculine and feminine.
 

If the Latin ille, with its inflections blossoming out into the Romance languages, derived from Hebrew elle, this single word had far reaching impact upon the European languages.
 

A difficulty exists with assignment of the particle words which Bodmer used. As simple particles they could have other origins. For example, Hebrew also used a simple el = "these" as a demonstrative. This particle is found eight times in the Pentateuch. Did the Spanish el and the French il have origins other than through elle? The Hebrew preposition la = "to" is used in a wide variety of applications. Did the French, Spanish and Italian la words have an origin through other paths? Did the Hebrew adverb lo = "not" somehow find its way into the Spanish and Italian words?

We saw how the hem and hen third person inflectional endings of the pronouns were used in Hebrew for demonstratives. Other Hebrew inflectional endings show in the European languages. Consider the following Hebrew personal pronouns.


 

SINGULAR

PLURAL

I

ani

we

anakhnu

you(f)

atte

ye(f)

atten

you(m)

atta

ye(m)

attem

she

he

they(f)

hen

he

hu

they(m)

hem

 

The Hebrew second person singular feminine -te ending is found in the te second person singular feminine personal pronoun of Greek, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian it. The Hebrew second person singular masculine -tah ending is found in the second person singular masculine pronoun tu in Greek, Latin, Spanish and Portuguese.
 

The same Hebrew -ta and -te endings are found in Old English and English thou and thee. The plural hem and hen endings have parallels in English them and then.
 

Thus we find many forms of the personal and demonstrative pronouns in the European languages which could have had origin in Hebrew.
 

One could go on and on with these fascinating relationships. For example, in two pages following I tabulate some of the parallels in the prepositions and conjunctions. It is not my purpose here to do an exhaustive linguistic study. I wish merely to illustrate how the influence of the migrating Iberi tribes infiltrated into all levels and groups of the widespread European people.
 

There was a master force at work to bring this blood and cultural power to European people, and even a more subtle force to return English to many of the more original phonetics and meanings. We should not underestimate the power of God.


 

PREPOSITIONS AND CONJUNCTIONS 


A number of parallels exist between Hebrew and the European languages. 
The following tabulation shows more outstanding ones.

ENGLISH AFFIX

LATIN MEANING

HEBREW MEANING

AD-

Motion, direction, change to or toward; 

adherence, addition, proximity, intensification. 

To duplicate or repeat. 

Even to, for, into, till, so that, so long as, toward, until, thus far, unto, again, further, etc. 

Used also for duration, terminus, perpetuity.

DE- 

DI-

From, down, away; denotes separation, intensification, completeness, reversal 

This word is used in many Keltic and Romance surnames: de Leon, Dimaggio, D'Arco, and so on.

DE: enough, ability, too much, sufficient, after, among, from, in, since, etc. 

DI: but, for, that, until, which, whom, whose, when, therefore, etc.

IN-

In, within, into, toward, on; 

not, non-, un-

From ayin = in, en: be nothing, not exist, non-entity, come to nought, fail, was not.

-AL

Belonging to, pertaining to, have the character of, appropriate to.

Denoting motion towards, often in general to, occasionally quiescent; 

against, as far, near, toward, unto, with, among, etc.

OF, OFF

Teutonic Origins

AUF: primitive root, to cover, to fly, also, moreover, furthermore, but, yet, even, etc.

AS

Teutonic Origins

AZ: at that time or place, therefore, at which time, now, then, yet.

 

PERSONAL PRONOUNS

English

Antique 
English

Old 
English

Hebrew

Aramaic

Assyrian

Arabic

Greek

Latin

Spanish

German

Russian

SINGULAR

I

 

ic

ani

ana

anaku

anah

ego

ego

yo

ich

ya

you(m)

thou

thou

atta

atte

atta

anta

tu

tu

tu

du

ti

you(f) 

thee

thee

atte

atte

atti

anti

te

te

te

tebe

he

 

hu

hu

hu

shu

huwa

ou

 

 

er

on

she

 

heo

he

he

she

hiya

 

 

 

 

ona

PLURAL

we

 

we

nakhnu

anakhnu

anini

nakhnu

noo

nos

nosotros

wir

nas

you(m) 

thou

thu

attem

anttun

attuna

antum

 

vos

vosotros

ihr

vi

you(f) 

thee

thee

atten

antten

attina

antunna

 

 

 

 

 

they(m)

 

hie

tem

innun

shunu

hum

 

 

 

sie

oni

they(f)

 

hira

ten

innen

shina

hunna