Friday, August 16, 2013

Spelled naar, but vocalized as naara.

In the whole Torah we find just one place where the word נַּעֲרָה is spelled plene (malei). Everywhere else the word appears as נַּעֲרָ, that is with consonants of the words naar, but vocalized as naara.

One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that a semantic shift occurred. Once a word with the consonants of our naar (we can't guess how it was vocalized) was a general world for child, or perhaps tween, with context indicating if a male or female child/tween was intended. Gradually, that word changed, or narrowed, to mean "male child/tween", with the original word preserved in the Torah.

This sort of narrowing has occurred many times in the English language. A famous example is the world "girl" which once was a gender-neutral word meaning child.

Interestingly enough, it follows from this explanation means that Deuteronomy is older than some of the books of Nach, where the word naarah is spelled in the more modern way.

 Search for more information about ###

No comments: