Saturday, January 14, 2006

Boanerges and B(w)oston

The name 'sons of Thunder', variously written Βοανεργες, Βοανεργης, or Βοανηργες in mss of Mark 3:17, shows an interesting phonetic feature that may give insight into our Lord's accent. Whereas one might expect merely /bane/ as the construct of 'sons' in Hebrew here we may have /bwane/ with a bilabial semivowel between /b/ and /a/. At least to someone from the Eastern side of the Atlantic this seems analogous to the way that the toponym Boston is sometimes pronounced with a glide between the 'b' and 'o', the latter of which is of course closer to /a/ in US rather than British English. Are there other examples of such a glide?


  1. Yes.
    In the Dagomba tribe's Dagbani language in the Dagban kingdom of the Northern Region of Ghana, there is a dialectical variation of the name, spelled 'Dagbanli'.
    A neighboring tribe in the same kingdom, the Konkomba, call their language by several related names, among which one is spelled Liquan. A linguist there wrote the following:
    "The language name, Likonl, is pronounced somewhat like 'lick-wall'. The difficult part about it is that the vowel in the second part of the word is nasalized. This is why the 'n' is in the official spelling of the word, even though it isn't really pronounced."