cognate language comparisons, was [b-hebrew] Offend/dealt corruptly - chet bet lamed (nehemiah1:7)

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at
Tue Jun 22 15:32:48 EDT 2004

Dear Peter:

This goes back to our discussion on list about the meaning of “to strike”—does it have one central meaning or are there many meanings?

I suspect that in Shakespeare’s day that it had only one meaning, or if there were derivitive meanings they were readily recognizeable. Not so today, such that some members of this group insist that it has many meanings to be used for different contexts.

The flowering of Arabic literature, from which we can recognize definitions, occured over a thousand years after Biblical Hebrew ceased to be spoken (let’s not get into Mishnaic Hebrew here). There are plenty of events that could have happened to make Arabic have two roots where Hebrew originally had one, that is assuming that Arabic’s meanings are derived from Hebrew. It is very easy for Arabic to have acquired new phonemes, mainstreamed dialectal phonemes applied to special uses, acquired loan words from other languages that have the same pronunciation as previous lexemes in Arabic, etc. So if five centuries in English can change the meaning of “to strike” that it leads to disagreement, how much more would a thousand years and a different language, even a cognate language, make?

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Kirk <peterkirk at>

> On 21/06/2004 14:23, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >Peter:
> >
> >Now we are getting back into a discussion of the evolution of the Hebrew language. I thought that was off list.

Sorry, I forgot to add the smiley         ;-)
> >  
> >
> No, this is evidence for understanding of Hebrew from cognate languages. 
> That is a well established method of understanding Hebrew which cannot 
> be ruled out of order on this list.
> >I disagree.
> >  
> >
> I thought you would. But if you do, you have to account for how there 
> are two different Arabic roots corresponding to this one Hebrew one - 
> and similarly with very many other Hebrew roots.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at (personal)
> peterkirk at (work)

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