The torah tells us why G-d destroyed the earth with a flood. Rashi, on Bereshit 6:
In our transcription, the proto-Sumerians distinguished between the four vowel sounds known to the Semitic Akkadians, from whom we derive our knowledge of Sumerian. Quickly exhausting the symbolic Past extended essays ib of the vowels, the proto-Sumerians constructed symbolic analogies between what we call consonants, which involved impeding one's vocal production in various ways, and certain external objects and actions.
Our varying use of one or the other transcription represents a pronunciation distinction which has not yet been adequately clarified.
Certain sets of abstract ideas are associated with each consonant. Insofar as they can be synthesized from the concrete words found in the lexicon, following are the abstract ideas associated with each consonantal phoneme. Having identified the sets of ideas associated with each proto-Sumerian consonant, the question arises as to why these particular associations and not others.
The answer is foreign to the modern mind, accustomed as we are to words which are constructed of arbitrary consonants and vowels, words which we commit to memory as unbreakable morphemic sequences. In modern languages, except for a few words which are recognized to originate in sound symbolism, meaning is divorced from sound.
The sounds that make up modern words do not have meanings which everyone acknowledges. This was not the case for the inventors of the proto-Sumerian language because they were trying to use the mouth and the sounds that it produced to 'point' at objects and actions.
One can think of these sounds as 'mouth-gestures' or 'mouth-pictures'.
What one did with the mouth to produce the consonantal sounds had to have enough logical similarity to the referenced actions or objects to trigger a mental association. Thinking is based on stringing together parts which economically represent wholes. The mind can recall a whole object or action when presented with just a part of it.
Proto-Sumerian mouth-gestures tried to recreate enough features of part of an object or action to enable recalling the whole. The proto-Sumerians recognized the following articulatory symbolism: The lips required to produce a bilabial stop were taken to represent the mouth as a whole, that is, as a 'cavity' or 'receptacle'; while as prehensile organs, which furthermore demarcate the entrance to each person, their sound came to represent 'taking' or 'allocating'.
The closure of the oral cavity on all sides led to the meaning 'edge, side', which led to associated verbal meanings such as interaction between two parties or between one party and an 'edge' or 'boundary'. Since chewing with the molars is the mouth's primary activity, this phoneme also meant 'to act, do, perform'.
A velar stop is produced with the back of the tongue closed against the velum or palate. Of the stops it is the farthest back, so its meanings derive mainly from association with the throat. Such meanings include 'entrance', 'long, narrow', 'to consume', 'to kill', and 'to utter'.
The production of this phoneme at the base of the oral cavity is what led to the meaning 'site, base'. This is a bilabial nasal resonant, in which the oral cavity closed by the lips provides a resonating chamber for the voice which is directed out through the nasal cavity. The idea of a chamber may have led to the idea of a 'woman' in her child-bearing capacity and thence to the meanings 'to cause to be' and 'to go out'.
It should be noted that ama means 'mother' in many other languages besides Sumerian and thus presumably derives from baby talk. The resonating cavity of this alveolar nasal resonant is foreshortened by the tip of the tongue touching the alveolar ridge.
The light touch of the tip of the tongue inspired the idea of 'discrete individuality', while its position at the roof of the mouth led to the meaning 'to be high'. This sound is called a velar nasal resonant.
The sound resonates mainly in the throat, sinus, and nasal cavity. As the most internal of the resonants, the sound came to mean 'self'.
A lateral oral resonant is produced like a vowel except that the tip of the tongue contacts the alveolar ridge, which laterally displaces the air flow. The effortlessness of producing this consonant caused it to be associated with 'happiness', 'abundance', and with those tireless producers of abundance, 'males'.
This oral resonant is also produced like a vowel except that by raising the tongue to the palate a narrow passageway is created to control emission of the sound. The controlling action and the position of the tongue relative to the palate led to the meanings 'to send forth, emit' and 'to protect, shelter, support'.
A dental-alveolar voiceless fricative is generated by closing the oral cavity with the tongue while directing air past the grooved tip of the tongue held against the alveolar ridge proximate to the teeth with resulting audible friction.
The difficulty of this operation led to the meaning 'skill'.Extended Essay Resources. Every IB diploma candidate must submit an extended essay. This link has the IB specifications for EE online.
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