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A word for "pineapple" in Hebrew is "אננס" and in German is "Ananas". The pronunciation of "אננס" in Hebrew and "Ananas" in German are so similar that I wonder if it is merely a coincidence or there are some reasons behind it.

Since Hebrew should be older than German as it was spoken Adam and Eve and there should be pineapples in the Garden of Eden, I tend to believe אננס is older than Ananas; therefore it is impossible for אננס to be a transliteration of Ananas; on the other hand, is Ananas a transliteration of אננס?

Edit: A further research shows that in many other languages such as Bosnian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finish, French, Italian, Polish, Yiddish, the sound of this word is similar.

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    When did אננס first appear in Hebrew though? – Keelan Jun 11 at 15:56
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    Pineapples didn't reach Europe until the 17th century, and most languages other than English use a word derived from the Tupi language. And the idea that Adam and Eve spoke Hebrew is not Biblically supportable and is not accepted doctrine in Judaism or Christianity. – curiousdannii Jun 11 at 15:59
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    Adam and Eve have good etymologies in Arabic. Anyway, everyone knows that Adam and Eve spoke Arabic in Paradise and Syriac after their expulsion – fdb Jun 11 at 22:08
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    "Adam" also makes sense in Akkadian and Ugaritic; "Eve" has a cognate in Classical Latin of all places (via Punic) and I'd assume it shows up in Akkadian too though my dictionary is failing me. Akkadian, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Ugaritic, Aramaic, etc are all part of what linguists call the "Semitic language family", so you'll find a lot of correspondences between them. – Draconis Jun 11 at 22:36
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    In this board, we can only give scientific answers based on linguistics. From that perspective, we cannot include religious arguments based on Torah, only on what can be deduced through scientific investigation. From that point of view, no natural language (with the possible exception of creoles) natively spoken today is any older than any other and, more generally, you are likely to find that any answer we give contradict your own beliefs. Mi Yodeya (judaism.stackexchange.com) may be a better forum for discussing how to handle those contradictions – Tristan Jun 12 at 9:06
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Ananas is not from Hebrew. It is from a South American language, Old Tupi, from the same area where the fruit is native – the Amazon rainforest, not the Middle East. Tupi natives called the fruit naná, and made a fermented drink from it, naná’y. The European invaders took the fruit to the rest of the world and borrowed the word as ananas, as described by the French monk André Thevenet in 1555. From there the Tupi word spread to most languages of the world, including Hebrew. Rare exceptions include English ‘pineapple’ and Portuguese abacaxi (from a different Tupi word, ybakatí, ‘fragrant fruit’).

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  • Thanks! In easter Asian languages, the word sounds like "pineapple" in Japanese and Korean and has a very different sound in Chinese. – Zuriel Jun 11 at 21:25
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    Yes Modern Japanese and Korean use the English word, and Mandarin Chinese uses a number of native words depending on the country, iincluding fènglí (phoenix pear), huánglí (yellow pear), and bōluó (a bit of a complicated origin but ultimately from the Sanskrit word for 'jackfruit'). – melissa_boiko Jun 12 at 9:00
  • Pfeifer (via DWDS dwds.de/wb/Ananas) states that the word reached European languages via Portuguese ananás. Ananás and abacaxi seem to mean slightly different things in Portuguese today. – Carsten S Jun 18 at 10:15
  • @CarstenS I wouldn’t use the word ananás at all, only abacaxi (Brazilian Portuguese native, dunno about the Europeans). My source for Thevenet as the first citation was the OED. – melissa_boiko Jun 18 at 10:54
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    I found this, no idea how accurate it is: quora.com/… (I am not expecting to tell you anything that you do not already know, of course.) That Portuguese is the source of the word in many European languages and that at the same time Portuguese distinguishes more finely between related fruits and does not use ananás for what is now an Ananas (German) to me is not surprising. I just thought that it was worth pointing out that the Portuguese ananás exists. – Carsten S Jun 18 at 11:05
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Melissa and user6726 addressed the word Ananas quite nicely. But to respond to this part of your question:

Since Hebrew should be older than German as it was spoken Adam and Eve and there should be pineapples in the Garden of Eden…

Regardless of beliefs about Edenic/Adamic/etc (I don't know enough about scripture to argue that), it's easy to show that Hebrew has changed over time: for a straightforward example, modern Ashkenazim and Sephardim pronounce certain letters very differently, which couldn't happen if their language was static and unchanging.

Over time, Hebrew has adopted quite a lot of loanwords from other languages, for a wide variety of reasons. Even if Hebrew had a word for "pineapple" dating back to Eden (again, I don't have the scriptural expertise to argue that point), it never appears in scripture. Hebrew-speakers most certainly had no contact with pineapples for a few millennia, so any such word would have died out. And when they encountered pineapples in modern times, they would have needed to come up with something to call them; borrowing the word the pineapple-merchants were using for them was the obvious choice.

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The origin of the word (and the fruit) is probably a Tupian language, hence the similarity across languages. Incidentally, languages don't have meaningful ages. People (taken as a whole, not specific individuals) speaking German these days learned it from people speaking German in the past, ad infinitum; and the same with Hebrew. There is a tendency to get confused over the language, versus the name of the language. The name of the language known as "Hebrew" is attested before the name German, which isn't the German word for German, anyway. The word Deutsch comes from an older word meaning "people", and we don't really know how "old" that word is.

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  • same with Hebrew – Really? Didn’t Hebrew die and was revived and is half a constructed language? – ˈvʀ̩ʦl̩ˌpʀm̩ft Jun 12 at 9:09
  • @ˈvʀ̩ʦl̩ˌpʀm̩ft it died as a community language, but there was never a time when it wasn't studied in schools and used as a literary language. This makes it similar to Latin and Sanskrit, and differentiates it from Sumerian, which ceased to be understandable even by scholars for several hundred years until it was deciphered. – Robert Columbia Jun 12 at 17:46

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