HEBREW AND UTO-AZTECAN LANGUAGES COMPARED
Three years ago Brian Stubbs, then a doctoral candidate in linguistics at the University of Utah, received a grant from F.A.R.M.S. to find out if elements of Hebrew could be detected among native tongues of the Uto-Aztecan family of western North America. He has now prepared a technical report summarizing his extensive research.
In his paper "Elements of Hebrew in Uto-Aztecan: A Summary of the Data" Brian Stubbs compares two language families. From the Near East, he deals with Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Babylonian, and Ugaritic, all Semitic languages. From the New World, he examines Uto-Aztecan tongues, which range from Northern Piute and Shoshoni in the Great Basin, Hopi and Papago in Arizona, Tarahumara and Yaqui of northern Mexico, to Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs of central and southern Mexico.
The data include sound correspondences, vocabulary relationships, semantic patterns, fossilized verb forms and other morphologies. For example, Hebrew yasav, "he sat or dwelt," is very similar to Hopi yesiva, "to sit."
The paper presents 203 equivalences between the two language families. Material still being analyzed contains more than 200 additional Hebrew roots with apparent reflexes in the Uto-Aztecan family. This quantity of potentially significant correspondences raises the prospect of identifying some historical connections between the Near East and Mesoamerica.
Stubbs does not conclude that Uto-Aztecan descended from Hebrew alone. Rather he suggests that the Uto-Aztecan language family may have evolved by a process called creolization, the formation of a new language from the mixing of two or more active ones. Those interested in technical linguistic research will find this paper stimulating and informative.