Friday, February 20, 2009

I gently correct a 143 year old spelling mistake, or, how should "Peshitta" be spelled in Hebrew letters?

I've posted some things about the Peshitta (aka ܦܫܝܛܬܐ, Peshitto, Peschito, ' וגו) a few times. If the name doesn't ring a bell, the Peshitta is what the Syriac Bible is commonly called, Syriac being a dialect of Aramaic used by Eastern Christians.

Since the word is generally written out in Latin letters as "Peshitta" (if we are talking about this century and from a bit of an Anglo perspective) most people probably don't realize that the /tt/ represent two different Syriac letters. In Hebrew script, they are טת; that is, פשיטתא. Since in Syriac grammar, as I understand it, the ת here is pronounced רפה, that is, soft, the word is really pronounced Peshittha (with the /th/ being like the word /with/). If you like havoro Ashkenazis (for all you Ashkenazi Syriacs) then you'd say "Peshitsa," the same way an Aramaic baalebuste is an "itsa," איתתא. However, under the classical scholarly and modern Israeli convention of following allegedly Sephardic pronunciation, most people just wrote "Peshitta," and consequently a lot of people pronounce it that way instead of "Peshittha" or "Peshitsa" (which is not Syriac, so I don't know that it's more correct).

So it was with great fun that I found the following:

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Okay, granted he is technically correct that the תרגום סורי is מכונה פשיטא. Like I said, that's what loads of people call it!

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