Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jonah's Whale

Some of the Facebook people, this morning, were attempting to deal with the incongruity of a Jonah's dag being widely considered to be a whale. After all, a dag is a fish.

As I wrote the whole thing is a non-starter. First, who says its a whale? Perhaps it was a fish. A big fish, just as the verse says. Second, even if I agree that the author likely had a whale in mind (I do by the way) its possible that dag was originally any type of animal that swims in the sea, but via a semantic shift called "narrowing" the words meaning became less general.

Examples in English include hound (narrowed from any kind of dog to dogs specifically used to chase game) meat (narrowed from any kind of food) and girl (original meaning was any young person.)

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