Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The dumbest thing I saw today

I wish to publicly thank Josh Waxman for discovering one of the dumbest things I've ever seen on a Jewish website. It is a collection of bogus etymologies published here by someone seeking to prove that all languages can be traced back to Hebrew:

...most languages, including Latin derivatives, derive from the first universal language ever spoken, Biblical Hebrew. The Torah explicitly tells us that until the Tower of Babylon story, the world's populace spoke - only Hebrew (Braishis 11:1).

Here are some English words that most probably have their source in Hebrew: 
More examples:
"שרף" means "Serpent"(Devarim 8, 15).
Speaking of snakes,
"פתן" is "Python"  (Tehilim 91:13).

"מסתר"(as in Rashi: Shir Hashirim 1:2) means "Mystery"
a noun from the root verb "to conceal".

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh (lecture in 2005) says the word MURDER comes from 2 Hebrew words:
"Mered Or" (מרד אור), meaning - Rebellion Against Light [as in Iyov 24, 13]. Light connotes G-d, and murder is rebelling against Him Who created all people to live.

Where to start? OK here: The first spoken language was not biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew is itself derived from earlier spoken tongues. Moreover, our scholar gets his facts wrong:  Nowhere does the Torah "tell us that until the Tower of Babylon story, the world's populace spoke - only Hebrew." Had he bothered to check his own citation, Genesis 11:1, he'd have found: "Now the whole world had one language and a common speech". This is a claim that everyone spoke the same language. It does not claim that Hebrew was that language.

And what about the etymologies themselves?  Josh has already shown how easily they crumble. "Furnish" for example is one of several "ish" verbs like "Cherish" or "abolish" - in most of those cases the "ish" is a formative occurring in verbs borrowed from French. That fact that one of the resulting words - furnish - sounds somewhat like a Hebrew word - parnes - that carries a similar meaning is nothing but a coincidence.

Some of the other errors:

  • Pardes is not a Hebrew word. Its a Persian loan word (though it did develop into paradise) 
  • Mystery is derived from a word that means secret, not conceal
  • Murder is derived from a word meaning death, not rebellion



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