A Comparitive Semitic Lexicon of the Phoenician and Punic Languages by Dr. Richard Tomback and Phoenician Dictionary Online

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A Comparitive Semitic Lexicon of the Phoenician and Punic Languages by Dr. Richard Tomback

Semitic Phoenician Lexicon
A Comparitive Semitic Lexicon of the Phoenician and Punic Languages by Dr. Richard Tomback

Ever since the beginning of the Twentieth Century, to the student of Semitic languages, the discovery of each additional inscription resulted in additional lexical material to be analyzed. In particular this became true in the sub field of Phoenician/ Punic Studies.

Not only have hundreds of Phoenician and Punic inscriptions been reanalyzed and restudied, but dozens of Neo Punic written documents, have been uncovered and subject to the most minute of analysis.

In writing the Comparative Lexicon to the Phoenician and Punic Languages, a specific methodology had to be used in order to restudy and reanalyze properly virtually the entire corpus of inscriptions available to date. The Lexicon would be in traditional Semitic Alphabetic order. Each lexical entry would list variant spellings from the standard acceptable form. This would be followed up with all realistic comparative data. The comparative material ranging from lexical items from Akkadian, Sumerian, Ugaritic, Biblical Hebrew, Mishnaic Hebrew, Classical Arabic, Amharic, Geez, etc Needless to say the author makes no claim at finality or completeness in the choice of related lexical data.

The major section of the Lexicon consists of translations of each major instance of a lexical item found in the mass of inscriptions. Needless to say, at times due to the use of photographic evidence and re-readings of older lexical evidence, a new reading of the data would result.

Each translation of a complete or fragmentary inscription was based entirely upon the lexical data available at the time of the printing of the volume. No revisions were made at a later time.

This dictionary can be purchased on line from Amazon.com and other book dealers.

The first of its kind in the world, Online English to Phoenician Dictionary with phonetic pronunciation in both Latin & Arabic scripts by Maroun KassabNote by the site author: With regret, Phoenicia.org does not guarantee the validity or scholastic veracity of this online dictionary.

"Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man."

Martin Heidegger

It is true that we have always understood language to be a medium of communication. If two people are conversing together, they are seen as transmitting information from the mind of the first subject, to the mind of the second through Language. Therefore, language has always been looked at as the object or tool of communication. But today, we are beginning to understand that language goes beyond the Subject/Object dichotomy. Instead of looking at language as a mere tool, we are beginning to understand that it actually governs the way we think. We are raised within language. When we argue, we argue within language, when we think, we think within the boundaries of language. When we debate the validity of these propositions, we are doing it within the framework of language. Therefore, language governs thought.

Each of the human languages has its own specificity, and none can replace the other. Every culture is determined by the language it speaks and this language defines its framework of thought. Therefore, it becomes of extreme importance to understand the language we speak, in order to understand the manner in which we think. In Lebanon , as well as in the larger Arab world, there is a lack in this domain. Some might find this statement strange, given the amount of scholars of the Arabic language, and the amount of books written on the subject. Yet, we have to realize here that there are actually two misconceptions at hand:

1- When people speak of the Arabic language, they are generally putting aside a very important aspect of this language. The Arabic language is not a spoken language. It is the literary language in the entire Arab world. In no single culture is the Arabic language a spoken language. It is the language of books and magazines. It is never the language that we use to open up our view of the world on a daily basis, and definitely, it is not the language through which we think. I could hardly imagine that someone who is going to a grocery shop would think to herself “سوف أذهب الى الدكان ”, whether this person is Lebanese or Saudi, Syrian or Iraqi.

2- The second misconception is that we in Lebanon speak Arabic. Now, I must admit that the nature of this argument has had its share of political connotations in Lebanon , especially that some Lebanese political groups have used it to distance themselves from the larger Arabic world and culture. As a result, other opposing Lebanese political groups that identify with the Arab world and culture have rejected this notion of language, and this subject became an extremely sensitive subject that everyone tries to avoid. My own conception of this matter is that this subject should be taken out of the political arena, and put back in its proper context, which is the scientific and linguistic context. I do not believe that Lebanese politicians have any right or the proper knowledge of the subject matter to make any determination on this issue. Now, the reason that I said that there is such a misconception in the beginning is due to the fact that the everyday Lebanese that we speak seems to share a lot of vocabulary with the Arabic language. But here we have to remember, that the Arabic Language and the Phoenician language are both Semitic languages and share a lot of common words. Browsing through the dictionary will give the reader an understanding of the extent that these terms are shared. Yet, the mere fact remains that the sentence structure of the everyday Lebanese is closer to the sentence structure of the Phoenician than that of the Arabic Language. Therefore, in Lebanon we can make neither the assumption nor the assertion that we speak Arabic. Neither can we on the other hand say that we speak Phoenician for that matter. We simply speak Lebanese, a very unique & hybrid language. We have our traditional poetry recited in this language, we raise our children within this language and we ask for a drink of water when we are thirsty in this language.

Having said this, it becomes clear that we have to strive to understand the language we speak in Lebanon , in order to better understand the way we think, the way we live, and the way we interact with each other. Yet, we cannot do so, before setting up the proper frame work for understanding. We must go back to the language of our ancestors, the original language that was spoken on these shores, and which still survives in our language structure, our dialect and our vocabulary. It has been transformed much since then, but a deconstruction of our Lebanese language will help to reconstruct our understanding of it. This means that research has to be done on this subject and disseminated to the public, as well as the scientific community, so that we can start to reconstruct the various elements of our language and thought. That is why one of my major concerns was to make this information available as an open source.

All the terms in this dictionary are taken from scientific resources and Phoenician inscriptions found in Lebanon and in Phoenician colonies. Therefore, this work is a scientific approach towards the Phoenician language, and a humble contribution towards the understanding of our Lebanese culture, language and heritage. I hope that this work will be put to a good use, and will shed a light on one of the dark corners of our thought.

-- Maroun G. Kassab

Online English to Phoenician Dictionary

Additional Resources

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Additional references, sources and bibliography (Please don't write and ask me for references. You can find them at the end of article or in Bibliography)

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