The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Sigma
) (which in turn gave Latin S
and Cyrillic С
), and the letter Sha
in the Glagolitic
scripts (, Ш).
glyph, according to William Albright
, was based on a "tooth" and with the phonemic value š "corresponds etymologically (in part, at least) to original Semitic ṯ
(th), which was pronounced s
in South Canaanite".
The Phoenician šin
letter expressed the continuants of two Proto-Semitic phonemes, and may have been based on a pictogram of a tooth (in modern Hebrew shen
). The Encyclopaedia Judaica
, 1972, records that it originally represented a composite bow
The history of the letters expressing sibilants in the various Semitic alphabets is somewhat complicated, due to different mergers between Proto-Semitic
phonemes. As usually reconstructed, there are seven Proto-Semiticcoronal voiceless fricative
phonemes that evolved into the various voiceless sibilants of its daughter languages, as follows:
, where the use of shin
is well-determined, the orthography of sin
was never fully resolved.
To express an etymological /ś/, a number of dialects chose either sin
exclusively, where other dialects switch freely between them (often 'leaning' more often towards one or the other). For example:
Regardless of how it is written, /ś/ in spoken Aramaic seems to have universally resolved to /s/.
Hebrew spelling: שִׁין
The Hebrew /s/ version according to the reconstruction shown above is descended from Proto-Semitic *ś
, a phoneme
thought to correspond to a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative
/ɬ/, similar to Welsh Ll
Sin and Shin dot
The Hebrew letter represents two different phonemes: a sibilant
/, like English s
our, and a /ʃ
/, like English sh
oe. The two are distinguished by a dot above the left-hand side of the letter for /s
/ and above the right-hand side for /ʃ
/. In the biblical name Issachar
) only, the second sin/shin letter is always written without any dot, even in fully vocalized texts. This is because the second sin/shin is always silent.
, Shin represents the number 300. The breakdown of its namesake, Shin - Yodh - Nunh gives the geometrical
meaningful number 360
, which encompasses the fullness of the degrees of circles
Shin as a prefix
commonly used in the Hebrew language carries similar meaning as specificity faring relative pronouns
in English– "that (..)", "which (..)" and "who (..)". When used in this way, it is pronounced like 'sh' and 'eh'. In colloquial Hebrew, Kaph
and Shin together have the meaning of "when". This is a contraction of כּאשר
According to Judges
12:6, the tribe of Ephraim
could not differentiate between Shin and Samekh
; when the Gileadites
were at war with the Ephraimites
, they would ask suspected Ephraimites to say the word shibolet
; an Ephraimite would say sibolet
and thus be exposed. From this episode we get the English word shibboleth
The letter Shin is often inscribed on the case containing a mezuzah
, a scroll of parchment with Biblical text written on it. The text contained in the mezuzah is the Shema Yisrael
prayer, which calls the Israelites to love their God with all their heart, soul, and strength. The mezuzah is situated upon all the doorframes in a home or establishment. Sometimes the whole word Shaddai
will be written.
The Shema Yisrael prayer also commands the Israelites to write God's commandments on their hearts (Deut. 6:6); the shape of the letter Shin mimics the structure of the human heart
: the lower, larger left ventricle
(which supplies the full body) and the smaller right ventricle (which supplies the lungs) are positioned like the lines of the letter Shin.
A religious significance has been applied to the fact that there are three valleys that comprise the city of Jerusalem's geography: the Valley of Ben Hinnom, Tyropoeon Valley, and Kidron Valley
, and that these valleys converge to also form the shape of the letter shin, and that the Temple in Jerusalem
is located where the dagesh (horizontal line) is. This is seen as a fulfillment of passages such as Deuteronomy 16:2
that instructs Jews to celebrate the Pasach at "the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name" (NIV).
In the Sefer Yetzirah
the letter Shin is King over Fire, Formed Heaven in the Universe, Hot in the Year, and the Head in the Soul.
The 13th-century Kabbalistic text Sefer HaTemunah, holds that a single letter of unknown pronunciation, held by some to be the four-pronged shin on one side of the teffilin
box, is missing from the current alphabet. The world's flaws, the book teaches, are related to the absence of this letter, the eventual revelation of which will repair the universe.
" is sometimes said to derive from the Hebrew letter shin
, showing how both letters are nearly identical.
The corresponding letter for the /ʃ
/ sound in Russian
is nearly identical in shape to the Hebrew shin
. Given that the Cyrillic script
includes borrowed letters from a variety of different alphabets such as Greek
, it is often suggested that the letter sha
is directly borrowed from the Hebrew letter shin
(other hypothesized sources include Coptic
Sayings with Shin
was an old acronym for the Israeli Department of Internal General Security
, and name of the service is still usually translated as such in English. In Israeli Hebrew, the security service is known as the “Shabbaq”.
A Shin-Shin Clash
is Israeli military
parlance for a battle between two tank divisions ("armour" in Hebrew is שִׁרְיוֹן - shiryon
Sh'at haShin (the Shin hour) is the last possible moment for any action, usually military. Corresponds to the English expression the eleventh hour.
In the Arabic alphabet, šīn
is at the original (21st) position in Abjadi order
Šīn represents /ʃ/, and is the 13th letter of the modern alphabet order and is written thus:
A letter variant س
takes the place of Samekh
at 15th position.
The Arabic letter šīn
was an acronym for "something" (شيء
) meaning the unknown in algebraic equations. In the transcription into Spanish, the Greek letter chi (χ)
was used which was later transcribed into Latin x
. According to some sources, this is the origin of x
used for the unknown in the equations.
However, according to other sources, there is no historical evidence for this.
In Modern Arabic mathematical notation
, i.e. šīn without its dots
, often corresponds to Latin x
, this is U+069C ڜ ARABIC LETTER SEEN WITH THREE DOTS BELOW AND THREE DOTS ABOVE
- ^ Albright, W. F. (1948). "The Early Alphabetic Inscriptions from Sinai and their Decipherment". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 110 (110): 6–22 [p. 15]. doi:10.2307/3218767. JSTOR 3218767. S2CID 163924917.
- ^ The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon
- ^ Star Trek: The Original Series, episode #30 "Amok Time" (production #34), and I Am Not Spock, Leonard Nimoy, 1977.
- ^ Nimoy, Leonard (Narrator) (February 6, 2014). Live Long and Prosper: The Jewish Story Behind Spock, Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek Character. Yiddish Book Center. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- ^ Terry Moore: Why is 'x' the unknown?
- ^ Online Etymological Dictionary
- ^ Cajori, Florian (1993). A History of Mathematical Notation. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 382–383. Retrieved 11 October 2012. Nor is there historical evidence to support the statement found in Noah Webster's Dictionary, under the letter x, to the effect that 'x was used as an abbreviation of Ar. shei (a thing), something, which, in the Middle Ages, was used to designate the unknown, and was then prevailingly transcribed as xei.'
- ^ Oxford Dictionary (2nd ed.). There is no evidence in support of the hypothesis that x is derived ultimately from the mediaeval transliteration xei of shei "thing", used by the Arabs to denote the unknown quantity, or from the compendium for L. res "thing" or radix "root" (resembling a loosely-written x), used by mediaeval mathematicians.
Last edited on 14 May 2021, at 22:31
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.