23 May 2011

D is for Del-ta

A possible clue to why 'Fryan' (the language of the OLB) is older than old-Greek.

(this was posted 26 april 2011 on the UM-forum)

This is what Wikipedia says about the name of the Greek letter D, Delta:

Delta (uppercase Δ, lowercase δ; δέλτα) ...
It was derived from the Phoenician letter Dalet. ...
A river delta is so named because its shape approximates the upper-case letter delta.


This makes me ask the following questions:

1. Could it be the other way around, that the Phoenician letter Dalet was derived from the Greek letter Delta, or could they both be derived from another alfabet?

2a. What does "Dalet" mean in Phoenician?
2b. Do "Dal" and "Del" mean anything in either language?

3. Could it be that the Greek letter D got its name, because the upper-case letter (triangle pointing up) looks like a river delta? In other words: Could the name "delta" for the lowest point of a river (where it floods into the sea) be older than the name of the letter?

A major clue to the main answer can be found in the OLB.

Let's have a look at the following fragments with the word "DEL", and "DELTA" which is derived from it.
Numbers between {...} refer to the fragments below.

DEL = down, downwards (Dutch: neder, neer, omlaag, naar beneden etc.) {1-22,24-25,28-29,31-32,34-35}
DEL = valley, plain (Dutch: dal, valei, vlakte) {23}
DELTA = lower part, lowness, lowlands, plains, delta (Dutch: laagte, Westfrisian: delte!) {26-28,30,33}

= = = = = = = = = = = =
{as usual: [.../..] pagenr. and line of original manuscript;
[O+S] pagenr. in 1876 translations Ottema (Dutch)and Sandbach (English)
with some suggested corrections, improvements and explanations by me}

1. [049/22]
ÔRA SVNKON IN HJRA SKÁT DEL
[O+S p.71] andere zonken in haren schoot neder
Some [others] sank [down] into [her lap] the bosom of the earth

2. [054/23]
HI WIL SIN HÁVED IN HIRA SKÁT DEL LEDSA
[O+S p.77]
Hij wil zijn hoofd in haren schoot neerleggen
He will lay down his head in her lap

3. [055/08]
VPPA SKORRA FONNA DÉNE.MARKUM DEL
[O+S p.77]
op de schorren van de Dennemarken [neer]
[down] upon the banks [shores] of Denmark

4. [065/09]
NÉIDAM NACHT MIDLERWIL DEL STRÉK
[O+S p.91]
nadien de nacht middelerwijl neder streek
as night came on [or: down]

5. [080/17]
STRÉK VPPET LAND DEL
[O+S p.11]
streek op het land neder
all over the country [or: came down on the land]

6. [080/30]
LÉI.N PLÔNK DEL VPPA SÉ
[O+S p.113]
legde een plank neder op de zee
laid a plank [down]upon the sea

7. [083/24]
THÉRNÉI IS HJU DEL GVNGON
[O+S p.115]
Daarna is zij nedergegaan
After that it went down

8. [083/26]
AS ER TWA SPÉKE JEFTHA 2000 JÉR DEL TRÚLED HET
[O+S p.115]
Als het twee spaken of twee duizend jaren nedergewenteld heeft
When two spokes, or two thousand years, shall have rolled down

9. [084/02]
GODE SÉDUM THÉR DEL LÉID WRDE IN THINRA SKÁT
[O+S p.117]
goede zaden die neergelegd worden in uwen schoot
good seed which is laid [down]in thy lap

10. [084/03]
JETA THÚSAND JÉR SKIL THJU SPÉKE THEN DEL NÍGA
[O+S p.117]
Nog duizend jaren zal de spaak naar beneden dalen
Yet a thousand years shall the spoke descend

11. [084/25]
THÁ HJU UTSPRÉKEN HÉDE SÉG HJU DEL
[O+S p.117]
Toen zij uitgesproken had, zeeg zij neder
When she had finished speaking she sank down

12. [086/31]
SKATON HJARA BARN PILLA VPPA THA FINNA DEL
[O+S p.119]
schoten hunne brandpijlen op de Finnen af
shot their burning arrows [down] at the Finns

13. [094/22]
FOL EN BLOMRÉIN DEL VPPIRA HOLE
[O+S p.131]
viel een bloemregen [neer] op haar hoofd
a shower [or: rain] of flowers fell [down] on her head

14. [095/03]
THIS SWIKT ÀND TRULDE VPPET GÀRS DEL
[O+S p.131]
deze wankelde en tuimelde op het gras neder
who staggered and fell [down] on the grass

15. [095/12]
ASER DEL KÉM WÉR EN RIDDER GÀRS.FALLICH
[O+S p.133]
toen het nederkwam beet [was] een ridder in het gras[-vallig]
and each time a knight bit the earth
[when it came down, a knight was 'grass-falling']


16. [106/25]
SIATH HWA FONÉRE TORE DEL
[O+S p.147]
Ziet iemand boven van den toren naar beneden
If one looks down from the tower

17. [115/24]
HJU SÉG DEL. ÔL LÉGOR ÀND LÉGOR
[O+S p.159]
en [zij] zeeg neder, al lager en lager
and [she] sank down lower and lower

18. [120/08]
SETTON HJARA SELVA [...] DEL
[O+S p.165]
zetten zich[-zelf] neder
set themselves down

19. [124/29]
WI SKOLDE VS DEL SETTA
[O+S p.171]
wij ons zouden nederzetten
[...] [we should settle down]

20. [129/11]
BIFÁRA THA EROSTE PIL DEL FALDE
[O+S p.177]
voor dat de eerste pijl [...] neer viel
till the first arrow fell [down]

21. [130/23]
VNDERA TIDA THÀT VS LAND DEL SÉG
[O+S p.179]
Ten tijde dat ons land neder zonk
When our land was submerged

22. [131/01]
LIN.RIUCHT SÉG.ER DEL
[O+S p.179]
Lijnrecht zeeg hij neder
and fall [it fell] straight [litt.: line-right] down

23. [136/12]
VPPET BERCHTA LÉID EN DEL
[O+S p.185]
op het gebergte ligt eene vlakte [of: dal?]
upon a mountain, lies a plain [or: valley?]

24. [146/29]
THISSA SETTON HJARA SELVA SÚD.LIKER DEL
[O+S p.199]
deze zetten zich [zelf] zuidelijker neder
they settled [down] more to the south

25. [151/30]
NÉI THÀT FLÍ.MAR DEL
[O+S p.205]
naar het Flymeer afzakken [letterlijk: neer, omlaag]
[down] to the Flymeer

26. [156/23]
GVNGON HJA WITHER NÉI THA DELTA
[O+S p.211]
gingen zij weer naar de laagte [of: delta]
they returned to the lowlands

27. [156/24]
NÉI THA DELTA OF.FÁREN
[O+S p.211]
naar de laagte afgevaren
descending [fared off?] towards the lowlands

28. [163/24]
FON THA HÁGA BERGUM NÉI THA DELTA DEL
[O+S p.221]
van de hooge bergen naar de laagte neer
from the high mountains [down] to the plains

29. [163/25]
THA BERGA HWANÁ SE DEL STRÁME
[O+S p.221]
Die bergen, waar zij van afstroomen
The mountains in which their sources lie [from where they stream down]

30. [164/04]
NÉI THA DELTA JEFTHA LÉGTE
[O+S p.221]
naar de delte of de laagte
to the [delta or] lowlands

31. [164/06]
VPPET SKUM THÉR HÉLIGE GONGG.À DEL GONGGEN IS
[O+S p.221]
op het schuim van de heilige Ganges naar beneden gegaan is
floated [had gone] down upon the foam [or: scum] of the [holy] Ganges

32. [164/26]
AN THA ÁST.LIKA OWER FON PANG.AB DEL SET
[O+S p.223]
aan den oostelijken oever van den Pangab neergezet
established themselves to the east of the Punjab
[settled down on the eastern shore of the Pangab]


33. [167/07]
THAT MITH.A STRÁMA FON BOPPE NÉI THA DELTA DRÍWETH
[O+S p.225]
dat met de stroom van boven naar de laagte drijft
that float down [with] the stream [from high to the lowlands]

34. [168/09]
THEN SKIN SE LIN.RJUCHT VPPA JOW HOLE DEL
[O+S p.227]
dan schijnt ze lijnrecht op uw hoofd neder
a man's body has no shadow
[litt.: then she shines line-right down up your head]


35. [201/14]
BY THA HELLINGA THÉRA BERGUM DEL
[O+S p.243]
bij de hellingen der bergen neder
down the slopes of the mountains

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Dutch:
dal = valley
(neer) dalen = to go down (-wards)
afdalen = to descend

Westfrisian:
delte = low part of land (see Ottema footnote, page 210)
(deel = working space in farm; related??)

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Now let's start with question 3.

Rivers flow from high- to low-lands, they flow downwards and if they reach a lake or sea, that is the lowest part. At the lowest part, they may split into several ends, as is the case at the Nile-delta, the Punjab (five rivers), and in Holland with the Rhine. Sometimes, specially with the Nile, a nice triangular shape is created.

It makes perfect sense that such lowest part of a river is named "delta", after "del", meaning down or downwards.

This construction, to turn an adjective into a noun, is still common in Dutch, and also (be it less) in English (see underlined examples):

diep (-te) = deep/ depth
droog (-te) = dry (-ness)
groen (-te) = green/ vegetable
hoog (-te, -heid) = high (-ness)
laag (-te) = low (-ness)
lang/ lengte = long/ length
leeg (-te) = empty (-ness)
lief (-de) = dear/ love
sterk (-te) = strong/ strength
stil (-te) = silent/ silence, stil (-ness)
ver (-te) = far/ distance
warm (-te) = warm (-th)
wijd (-te) = wide/ width

As far as I could find, the word "del" means nothing in Greek, and the words that mean low, down, valley etcetera down't have anything "del" in them:

Dutch to new-Greek:
laagte (lowness) = προστυχιά
dal (valley) = κοιλάδα
laag (low) = χαμηλής
neer (nether, down) = κάτω

This partly answers question 2, but since I don't have a phoenician dictionary, I'm not sure about that, but "Dalet" could very well be related to the Dutch "dal" as well, meaning low-land or valley.

Finally, the answer to question 1; both the name of the Greek letter Delta and the Phoenician letter Dalet can be explained by the Fryan language, which proves the latter (Fryan) to be the oldest.

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