b-hebrew digest: September 01, 1999

Bill Rea cctr114 at its.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Sep 2 18:00:46 EDT 1999

Paul Zellmer wrote:-

>We may only have a semantic disconnect here, but these are two
>completely different items in my understanding.  The root is the lexical
>base (in hebrew, generally three consonants) that bear the basic
>semantic meaning of the lexical entry.  

When I was in Hebrew class we were cautioned in no uncertain terms
that this approach was purely for convenience. We were taught that
the root was a theoretical entity extracted from the fact that
actual words which share the root often have similar or related
meanings. But in reality the root doesn't actually have a meaning and
the lexical meaning of actual words always takes precedence over any
theoretical meaning one might derive from the root. 

So which is right? I wouldn't normally ask this question, but Paul
posts so intelligently here I feel need to clarify this. Also,
in my experience people who speak about the root meaning of words
often are trying to load extra meaning onto a word which in reality it
cannot bear. So we need to be careful with roots even if Paul's

Bill Rea, Information Technology Services, University of Canterbury  \_ 
E-Mail b dot rea at its dot canterbury dot ac dot nz                 </   New 
Phone   64-3-364-2331, Fax     64-3-364-2332                        /)  Zealand 
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