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41 votes

How did שְׁלֹמֹה (shlomo) become Solomon?

For the vowels, pay close attention to the nəquddoth (vowel dots)! Between the shin and the lamedh is a shəwa mark; sometimes this indicates an extra-short vowel, sometimes no vowel at all. But ...
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38 votes
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Why is there (almost) no variety to the Hebrew accent in Israel?

English has been spoken in New York for hundreds of years while Hebrew was only revitalized in the late 19th century. The British Isles are said to have more varieties of English than the rest of the ...
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29 votes

Why is there (almost) no variety to the Hebrew accent in Israel?

You’re right that there is very little regional variation in Modern Hebrew accents (though there are a few street market and schoolyard slang differences). Israel is a small, well-connected country ...
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  • 1,152
26 votes

When did Hebrew start replacing Yiddish?

Did Hebrew replace Yiddish? I would say the decline of Yiddish and the rise of Hebrew are separate. Yiddish declined suddenly because of the Holocaust. It arguably would have declined anyway, but ...
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25 votes
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Why did some Hebrew words beginning with Yod become transliterated into Latin as "hi?"

Greek had the /h/ phoneme only at the beginning of a word, and it was marked with a diacritic (rough breathing sign) rather than with a letter. Koine Greek lost the /h/ phoneme and early manuscripts (...
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24 votes
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Why was the name תאומא transliterated as Θωμᾶς (Thomas) rather than Τωμᾶς (Tomas)?

It is because, at least in the later borrowings, Semitic ṭ ט is regularly represented by τ [t], while t ת is represented by θ [th]. It has to do with the fact that the Semitic emphatics are ...
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18 votes

Origin of "boor"

It's just a coincidence. The Hebrew and Arabic words come from a root B-W-R "to lie fallow"; compare the Arabic verbs بَوَّرَ (bawwara) and بَارَ (baara). The metaphor of "thoughts = ...
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18 votes
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When did Hebrew start replacing Yiddish?

It's an even more complicated story than that! In fact, in the 19th C, there was a strong literary scene of modern novels in Hebrew among European Jews before there was a strong Yiddish literary scene....
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17 votes
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How Standard Average European is Modern Hebrew?

Modern Hebrew is not SAE by any stretch. Going through Haspelmath's criteria: Definite and indefinite articles: Modern Hebrew (MH) has only a definite article (-ה), which is inherited from Biblical ...
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15 votes

Latin "vivere" vs. Hebrew "aviv"

Arnaud Fournet's answer is correct: there's no evidence for a relationship. But to add a bit more evidence that there isn't a connection… The Classical pronunciation of vīvere was something like /...
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14 votes
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Why is "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" transliterated with a Chi in Matthew and Mark?

The Aramaic word שבקתני would probably have been pronounced /ʃabaqtani/. Usually, as you note, the /q/ of Aramaic is transliterated as κ, so σαβακθανι /sabaktʰani/ would be expected. However, in Greek,...
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13 votes

How Standard Average European is Modern Hebrew?

In his article "Is Modern Hebrew Standard Average European? The View from European" (in "Linguistic Typology", Volume 17; 2013) Amir Zeldes lists 13 typological features defining SAE. Modern Hebrew (...
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13 votes
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Which is closer to Biblical Hebrew - Modern Hebrew, or Modern Arabic?

Modern Hebrew is closer to Biblical Hebrew than modern standard Arabic is, by almost any measure of closeness. Educated modern Hebrew speakers can read Biblical Hebrew, typically better than educated ...
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13 votes
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If Hebrew is written without vowels can there be multiple interpretations?

While there can always be some ambiguity, Hebrew and other Semitic languages have a system of triconsonantal roots, in which each sequence of three consonants suggests the meaning of the word. For ...
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  • 148
13 votes

Why is there (almost) no variety to the Hebrew accent in Israel?

Also note that most of the growth of Israely Hebrew follows the invention of the radio and telephone. Radio and television are believed to be major harminizors of accents.
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  • 231
12 votes

Why the words for pineapple sound so similar in Hebrew and in German?

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 ...
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12 votes
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If Hebrew is not related to Slavic, why there are apparent sound correspondences?

Just as you cannot compare two random species today to accurately assess their taxonomy (otherwise we would conclude all crabs form a single family when they actually form at least five distinct ...
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11 votes
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Relation between Hebrew 'סמפוניה' and English 'Symphony'

They both come from Greek συμφωνία.This was used in ancient and mediaeval times as a name for various musical instruments, including a type of drum.
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11 votes

Why does Hebrew transcribe Akkadian š inconsistently?

Yes, some people think Akkadian š was pronounced [s]. For the sibilants, traditionally /š/ has been held to be postalveolar [ʃ], and /s/, /z/, /ṣ/ analyzed as fricatives; but attested ...
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11 votes
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What is the term used for the opposite of a construct form?

In Semitic linguistics it is customary to refer to the "absolute state" and the "construct state", or their Latin equivalents "status absolutus" and "status constructus".
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11 votes
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How Hebrew Vowels Work

Perhaps it is helpful to understand some of the history behind this mixed system. Originally, Hebrew was never written with niqudot (diacritics added above, below, or within consonantal signs; ...
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  • 3,085
10 votes

What is the concept of verb agreement with passive-active level in Hebrew?

Although I haven't heard of the term "degrees of passive/active" before, they are almost certainly talking about the verbal stems. This is a concept indeed alien to Western European (or broader) but ...
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10 votes
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Are there any Latin and (ancient) Hebrew words with common origins?

Definitely! The most common are direct loanwords from one language into another, or Wanderwörter, words that spread over long distances via trade. For the first category, look at sabbatum, the Latin ...
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10 votes
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Name of horizontal line below character in Hebrew

That symbol represents the furtive pataḥ or פתח גנוב - it says so right in the linked document: "The only exception is the pataḥ furtivum as in רוח" There is no Unicode symbol for it, because it's ...
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10 votes
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Why is the question mark like this in Hebrew language?

This is likely to be an unsatisfying answer, but… Historical accident. That's just the way it is. Hebrew imported various punctuation marks from various other languages of Europe fairly early, and ...
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10 votes
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Is it OK to render Hebrew words with the final form missing?

N, yo nee t spel ou you word completel. I fina letter ar trul no a optio, yo ca us th no fina form. Fo exampl, yo ca writ: ראשונ Thi doesn' loo righ, bu shou b understandabl. Omittin th las lette ...
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9 votes
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Is there any relation between the Hebrew word שד for 'demon' and the English word 'shade' for ghost?

Probably not. The etymology of English "shade" (newest to oldest) is something like: Modern English "shade" Old English sċeadu (shadow) Proto-Germanic *skađwaz (shadow) Proto-Indo-...
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9 votes
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What about the hypothesis that the Hebrew and Arabic definite articles both evolved from a proto-Semitic word for "god"?

The present answers are in principle correct, but do not explain the fundamental issues with this idea. In short: The "God" lexeme is relatively infrequent to develop into a definite article. ...
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  • 3,085
9 votes

Does Biblical Hebrew have a plural of majesty?

Hebrew has a plural of excellence or majesty for nouns, but not a royal we for pronouns. Some people are confused about this because the terms are not kept separated correctly. Based on what you write,...
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9 votes
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What is the best romanization of ח?

There are several different standards, so which one you want to use will depend on your goal. For the purpose of conversing on the internet, for example, most people use ch; for linguistic purposes, ḥ ...
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